MJ Serratos has gained a fresh outlook about her area’s water since becoming general manager of Culligan of Santa Clara (Calif.) in July 2019. We talked with MJ about what she’s learned, how Culligan helps solve water problems, and why she says she has “a really cool gig.”
Describe the water in the area you serve, which includes Santa Clara, San Benito, San Mateo, and San Francisco Counties?
We are a very hard water area in our South Bay—San Jose down—and then we are more of a heavy chloramine or chemical waterway municipal system upwards toward the North Bay. Hetch Hetchy is a renowned water source that is located in Yosemite National Park. We have customers who are very happy they get to take advantage of that source, but what they don’t realize is that there are heavy levels of chloramine, which is a chlorine-ammonia mixture that is added to make the water free of contaminants.
I was a tap water drinker in the past, and I’ve had a really cool awakening in the sense of what’s in our water and what our municipal systems are putting in our water, albeit to make it better, but it’s still far from great.
Are there other issues you come across besides hard water and chloramine?
Our technicians have testing kits on their trucks for hydrogen sulfide—the gas that smells like rotten eggs—as well as chlorine, rock in the water called total dissolved solids, and clay.
Is there a fact about local water that might surprise customers?
Our southern customers may not know that their water source changes over the course of the year. They may also not know we have products that can help them save water when it changes. For example, our High Efficiency Water Softener has a smart sensor that will take into account the different hardness of the water so the softener only regenerates when necessary.
What are some benefits of treating hard water?
When you take a shower, you’re going to feel your skin and hair feel softer. You can also spend less money on cleaning products because you can use less of them—they won’t need to first treat your hard water before treating your countertop. Softeners can also make appliances last longer.
What do you like most about your job?
I like the opportunity to work with great people and for great people. I have a really cool gig because I get to support our sales team as they educate and take care of customers in my community who may not have realized prior that they are drinking, bathing, or cooking with water that isn’t as good as they had thought.