Kevin Street, City of Riverside Public Works Department, Wastewater Division
How did you get your first job in the wastewater sector?
My first career oriented job was with a local air pollution control district. It afforded me the opportunity to inspect and become familiar with wastewater treatment plant processes and equipment. Wastewater quickly piqued my interest; it was technical, offered longevity, and based on those I interacted with, seemed to be very fulfilling work. One day I happened to see a recruitment for a regulatory compliance analyst at the City of Riverside’s wastewater treatment plant. The position ideally meshed my science education background, regulatory experience, and wastewater interest. I pursued it and was fortunate enough to be selected.
How did you get involved as a CWEA volunteer? What do you enjoy about being a volunteer?
I responded to an invitation from CWEA. I enjoyed seeing first-hand the level of effort CWEA has recently invested in revising its certification programs and working with peers from across California to help in this effort. Witnessing CWEA staff and exam consultant’s expertise on display, their attention to detail, and overall receptiveness to stakeholder feedback evoked an even greater sense of confidence in the certification program.
What does it mean to you being a certified Collection System professional?
To me being a certified Collection System professional attests to my experience and achievements in the wastewater field. Most importantly, it demonstrates to other CWEA certified professionals that I understand, recognize, and appreciate, by way of their own certifications, their accomplishments and expertise.
Why is it important for the profession?
Certification helps assure regulators and public alike that those in the industry possess the skills and expertise necessary to manage public assets efficiently, effectively, and in the best interest of the public and the environment.
Advice for test takers?
Don’t shy away from taking a preparation course, but also don’t let them be the extent of your preparation. There are many local section CWEA volunteers who dedicate their time to helping others prepare for the certification exams. If you are nervous about test taking, these courses are a great way to help quell your anxiety. If you are already confident, you might be surprised to learn something new or find information you can share with your peers.
Is there something you think is surprising most people don’t know about the Collection System profession you’d like to share?
In addition to generally not even knowing it exists, most people would be surprised to know the profession is filled with smart, steadfast, professionals, at all levels, who choose to be here and love the work they do. I often feel those of us in the profession are part of a secret club, with only us knowing how rewarding it is and the caliber of folks within.
Any other advice for new people entering the sector on how to get ahead and be successful?
Learn about the industry, not just your discipline. There are countless career paths within the wastewater sector. Collections, treatment plant operations, maintenance, engineering, regulatory compliance, administration, and on and on… Seek to understand how these pieces work together; organizations such as CWEA or people you may already be working in close proximity to are great resources for this. Moderate insight into everyone else’s responsibilities adds context to day-to-day assignments and can help one understand why certain limitations exist. And ultimately, people appreciate when you show a genuine interest in who they are and what they do.