Water: Brought to you by Camille Champion, Right-of-Way Specialist

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CAP Employee Camille Champion

CAP employees work each day to ensure Arizona’s allotment of Colorado River water flows through our 336-mile aqueduct to reach our municipal, agricultural, industrial and tribal customers. Learn more about Camille from our Lands and Survey Department via her words below and by watching this video.

Q: In a nutshell, what do you do for CAP?

A: I am a Right-of-Way Specialist.

As you travel along the 336 miles of the CAP canal, you will see a multitude of utilities like transmission lines, communication towers, roads and bridges that cross the canal. There are also numerous underground utilities like fiber optic cables, sewer and water lines that also cross the canal. These were constructed by companies such as Arizona Public Service, Cox Communications, Arizona Department of Transportation, just to name a few.  My job is to license/authorize these facilities and manage their long-term use on the property.  The process involves a knowledge of land rights using various resources like survey data, GIS maps, county assessor’s data, plat/tract drawings, etc.  

With the increase of urban growth, I also authorize temporary water withdrawal licenses that allow customers to use CAP water for activities related to construction projects like dust control. I also manage temporary water authorizations to livestock users.

My job requires a high level of coordination among CAP’s engineers, inspectors, water operations, legal and safety to review, analyze and find solutions that will ensure that the proposed use of CAP property will not adversely impact the canal.

In addition, because we manage the canal on behalf of Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) there is constant coordination between each organization on our lands cases.

Q: How did you get into this line of work? 

A: I studied Geology and Environmental Sciences, starting my career as a geologist at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  While working for the BLM, I did crossover work with the right-of-way specialists on land rights for large-scale powerline and gas line projects.  At some point I was doing more of that work than geology and the rest, as they say, is history.  This job combines a little bit of everything I’ve learned from both education and work history.

Q: How does the work you do on a daily basis affect our water supply?

A: It’s really more of an indirect impact.  The canal is located in areas of major development requiring infrastructure – utilities, roads, etc.  In many of these cases we collect land use fees (rental) which is used towards the repayment for the construction of the canal.

With the introduction of these facilities crossing the canal, both over and under, I work to find solutions that will allow all parties to operate successfully without interfering with CAP’s operations and overall mission.

Q: What are some of the technical advances that allow you to do your job more effectively and efficiently? 

A: Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Google Earth or any mapping system.  It’s great to have current information at your fingertips. Before the technical advances, you would use rolls of maps that were hand drawn, cross your fingers and hope for the best.  With mapping systems like GIS, you can get the true representation of what’s happening on the ground. Of course, there will always be a need to complete field work for survey, etc. but it’s a great resource for baseline data.

Q: What’s the most challenging part of your work?

A: One of the most challenging parts of my job is that CAP does not own all the land in fee.  As a result, there are more complex issues to resolve while managing the various land rights.  Research, consulting multiple resource experts and some level of subjective interpretation is usually required. It seems like a treasure hunt to find all the information to piece the mystery together.

Q: What’s the most gratifying part of your job? 

A: I am fortunate to work with a team of individuals with various backgrounds that value everyone’s input and perspective; being free to share thoughts, ideas and frustrations alike with no judgments or criticisms. 

There is a level of professionalism and comradery that makes me truly appreciate my work. Our hearty discussions come from a place of passion for the work and a genuine desire to do the right thing the right way, whatever that may be. I am always learning from others and would like to think that I can rub off on them as well.

Q: What is your favorite part about working at CAP?

A: I love when I have family or friends that visit from out-of-state and as we drive by the canal I explain to them about CAP and the magnitude of facets it takes to operate so that water is delivered.  It really impresses them and it makes me appreciate being a part of it.