Warren H Coen
Mr. Warren Coen applied for a clerical/administrative SEE Program position to support the Water Program at Region 8 EPA after seeing a classified ad in a Denver, Colorado newspaper. He felt his 21 years of clerical/records management experience in the banking and insurance sectors definitely met the stated qualifications. Warren’s interest in water began early on when he lived on a farm in eastern Kansas, “It had two good wells while a farm less than a mile away had to depend on a cistern fed by roof catchment. During drought years water had to be hauled from a community well. I learned firsthand just how precious our water was,” Warren explained.
Warren supports the EPA’s direct implementation of Wyoming’s Public Water System Program. Although his duties include data entry for the surface water treatment rule, most of his time is devoted to maintaining the files for the State of Wyoming drinking water program. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires testing drinking water for various possible contaminants and pathogens. The Denver EPA office monitors compliance of these tests from laboratory reports sent in from EPA-certified labs. “I enjoy gaining an ongoing knowledge of public water systems: the reporting requirements and problem-solving by plant operators large and small are part of what I need to know to sort and file drinking water program records,” he explained.
Storage of this increasing mass of information about public water systems is held in special hard-backed classification file folders divided into eight categories: enforcement for public water systems in violation of federal regulations; informal enforcement for systems advised of potential enforcement action; regulations affecting systems that use surface water as a supply source; system descriptions (including permits for drilling, well drilling logs, sanitary surveys, security information); general correspondence (including required annual consumer confidence reports); ground water rule data where microbial testing results are filed; laboratory reports of chemical and radionuclide tests; and copper laboratory test results.
One of the potential challenges Warren foresees is, “Diminished filing space will become a priority problem. I feel responsible for awareness and motivation of the decision makers regarding this. It can be compared to climate change; slow but never ending; not noticed as a daily occurrence, but needing attention.”
Warren confessed though that, “Maintaining records at home is in direct contrast to the detailed work I do at EPA. Basically, it’s control vs. chaos. At work, what I do is filing; at home, what I do is piling. The only organized thing about piling is the automatic nature of saving any paperwork. Chronological sequence determines location in any given stack but not the location of a pile that could be anywhere in the house, including the basement. I once spent several days searching for the title to a 1965 VW bug and eventually found it sticking to the wall where a backless bookcase had been.”