For Lisa Arroyo, wastewater systems manager for the City of Santa Barbara, the hardest part of being a women in the clean water profession is balancing family with a job.
“I have two small children,” she explains. “Sometimes it is hard to turn off work and concentrate on being a mom. Changing your focus is not always easy.”
She says having a flexible employer, who allows her to telecommute at times, is important to her success. “I am fortunate that my employer provides that flexibility,” she says, adding it helps the city has excellent role models, including other females in key positions. “We have people who believe in me and know how hard I work so that I can balance the two,” she says.
Arroyo has a civil engineering degree from Cal State Northridge, as well as a degree in mathematics, and started with the city in 2001. She rose to a supervisory position, and in 2010 began to focus on water resources.
In 2016, she became manager of the system, responsible for Santa Barbara’s 11-mgd-rated treatment plant, 257-mile long collections system, plant laboratory, and 55 employees.
Having reached a position many in the clean water field would aspire to, Arroyo has even further aspirations. “I want our system and program to be one of the best in California,” she explains, “and to be a leader in best practices. I want to take us to the next level in energy efficiency and resource recovery.”
Arroyo is passionate about bringing more women into the wastewater profession, and has this advice for female prospects: You can be anything you want to be if you stay focused and are determined to succeed. “Even though this is not a female dominated field” she says, “I haven’t missed out on any opportunities. We just need more women who say ‘I can do it,’ because they can.”