Pump stations, lift stations, and piping layouts were nothing new to Bob Stiles when he took a collections system job at the Novato Sanitary District six years ago.
He’d worked with his dad on construction projects involving these kinds of jobs since he was a teenager.
But he says he still had a lot to learn about operations and maintenance of the wastewater infrastructure. “I was pretty green,” he says. “But I’ve learned a lot from my co-workers about our collections system, the hydraulics, wiring and electronics, and how to diagnose problems.”
Knowledge is important to Stiles. He says you shouldn’t always rely on yourself; you can learn a lot from others. “Sometimes it works if you just do it yourself,” he says. “But it’s good to exchange ideas, to share knowledge and be flexible.”
The training has paid off. His award nominator, collections superintendent Jeff Andress, wrote that Stiles took on a valve repair project himself and saved the district money. “He noticed two check valves at a critical pump station,” says Andress. “After trying to get a qualified contractor to make the repair to no avail, Bob asked if he could take on the repair himself.
“Once he explained his plan and showed the quotes for the valves and parts needed to make the repair, he was given the opportunity to make the repair. Bob was able to make the repair in a timely manner, and complete the project well under cost of contractor’s estimates we had received.
“Bob also spends a lot of his personal time volunteering to help others in need.”
That’s Bob’s style. He’s married with two young daughters, but he’s always available: “If someone needs help on stand-by, or has a question, I am always willing to assist any time night or day,” he says. “I can learn from my mistakes and take pride in not repeating them. I find myself continuing to grow, and learning from myself and others in turn I can share my knowledge with others.
“It’s my desire to continue to work hard to keep the collection system flowing and prevent any incidents that would put public health or our environment in jeopardy.”