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Why Water: A Journey with Sergio Pino-Jelcic

Why Water

In a conversation with Sergio Pino-Jelcic, Product Group Manager at Ovivo USA, Municipal, he shares an interesting story that traces his life from the dry landscapes of the Atacama Desert in Chile to becoming a professional in the water treatment industry. Growing up in Iquique, Chile, where water scarcity was a daily reality, he developed an early awareness of the preciousness of water.

His Journey: 

Sergio vividly recalls growing up in Iquique with the concept of water scarcity “There were years when we used to set up jugs to collect water. It was available at very restricted times of the day.” Inspired by his childhood, Sergio moved back to his hometown after earning his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering in Santiago, to work for the water utility company, marking the beginning of his journey addressing water scarcity issues. The turning point came when he saw the transformative impact of providing a constant water supply to a neighbouring town “I just made people’s lives better because we brought water to the desert, I saw how grateful they were.”

Sergio then pursued his master’s in biological treatment in Madison, Wisconsin, USA in 2003. Developing a profound connection with biology, he discovered a passion for understanding the complex workings of bacteria in wastewater treatment, “we are enabling, and promoting the growth of certain bacteria in wastewater, so they can address the pollutants, they do the work for me.”

This passion led him to work for global water companies and eventually, he joined Ovivo in 2020, where he spent the last four years focusing on the advancement of biological treatment technologies.

The Significance of Water: 

Sergio explains that in the face of water scarcity, awareness is crucial, not just for ourselves but also for the well-being of future generations: “Whenever I talk about water I always start with this quote by Loren Eisley: If there is magic in this planet, it is contained in water.”

Sergio believes that he discovered his future in water when he started addressing water-related issues in his community in Chile. He explains how the environment is essential for sustaining life, progress, and economic growth “In my field, I have the privilege of directly impacting people’s lives.”

Why Water with Ovivo?

Working with Ovivo, Sergio appreciates the company’s long-term vision, employee-centric culture, and collaborative technical expertise.

He believes that this culture of recognition and value has positioned us as industry leaders “We made a mark in the water treatment industry.”

What Does the Future of Water Treatment Look Like?

Sergio sees a focus on water reuse and the need for advanced technologies to address emerging pollutants like PFAS and microplastics. He emphasizes the need to recruit new operators for treatment plants, especially with the next generations.

Looking back at his profound connection to biology he expresses how that became his drive to work in water treatment: “I felt connected with life. It’s amazing how you study bacteria, and then suddenly you understand the wonder of life – we can do so much from a sustainability perspective.”

Posted on April 9, 2024