Karmjit Singh — One Team, One City, One Water

Image credit:
Jody Berndt, Community Outreach Specialist

When Karmjit Singh arrived in Madison from Singapore in 1980 with one suitcase, he only planned to stay for fourteen days. Fast forward to 2024 and the wealth of knowledge he holds about the City of Madison’s water distribution system could fill at least 37 suitcases, the number of years of service he holds with the Madison Water Utility. 

With previous experience as a parachute packer, power plant operator, FFA license holder, and computer science environmental engineer, Karmjit has always been the classic Jack of All Trades. Not only is he one of a handful of shift operators who carefully monitor Madison’s twenty-three wells and thirty-three reservoirs from a wall of computers in the water utility’s central office, he also places all chemical orders, sends data reports to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, provides general maintenance, and serves as an on-call rounder whenever needed. 

Rounders are the water utility’s primary line of defense. They are the first team members on the scene to collect data, triage breaks, and identify any repairs or changes needed to keep the system working smoothly. They put into place a plan of action, lining up the necessary people, materials, and equipment to keep Madison’s over 900 miles of pipes flowing with safe, drinkable water. 

For Karmjit, access to drinkable water and taking action against the intrusion of PFAS and other chemicals are at the forefront of everything he does, “It’s easy to take water for granted. We go to the tap and expect it to be there. Doing all we can to keep our water safe is important.”

If he had one wish, it would be to eliminate the use of disposable water bottles and jugs, “How do we know where the water in those plastic water bottles comes from? How do we know what’s in that water and how much of the chemicals from the plastic end up in our bodies?”

In reflecting on almost four decades with the utility he notes, “I love what I do. The people here are helpful, friendly, and most importantly so many of my coworkers seem to be interested in learning. They are eager to understand all aspects of the water utility, not just what they do for their own jobs. I also have a great boss in Joe DeMorett. He is respectful and a good listener.”

Karmjit continues to keep an eye on the present while looking ahead to his future. As retirement nears, he is considering packing his suitcase once again to return to Malaysia where he can be closer to family. 

From taking the call to come in at a moment’s notice to taking note of the little details that make a big difference, Karmjit is a role model for doing whatever it takes to provide the highest level of service to the people of our city. For 37 years, he continues to exemplify what it means to be one team, one city, and one water.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison Water Utility.

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