CASA turns the spotlight on members who are making an impact in the clean water community. These members exemplify CASA’s mission. If you are interested in being highlighted or nominating another member, please contact Debbie Welch at email@example.com.
Beverli A. Marshall
General Manager, Sewer Authority Mid-Coastside
Years in our industry?
How would you describe your job?
My job is to make sure that my board is informed, my staff are trained and supported and the necessary resources are available to meet our NPDES permit requirements.
What does a typical day look like?
As a general manager, no two days are the same. My faithful, four-legged companion Ginger and I start the workday around 7:30 and greet the staff before they head out into the field. At this time of year, I am working on the upcoming FY budget. Staff stop by my office as needed or just to say hello. My door is literally open to them at all times.
Unless I have an off-site meeting, I am in the office when the staff end their day. This gives me the chance to touch base and ensure I tell each of them their hard work is recognized and supported. This is one of the benefits of working at a small agency. I get to personally interact with each of my employees every day.
What attracted you to this type of work?
I have always wanted to work in the public sector. In 2009, when I was given the opportunity to work at West County Wastewater District, I jumped at the chance to see how special districts function compared to cities, counties and other public agencies. Once I understood the importance of the wastewater industry and the environment, I knew I had found my purpose.
How have you seen the agency/industry change during your career?
Although I have not been in the industry long, it seems like the influence of global warming, droughts and other water related events have really placed recycle and reuse issues at the forefront of the industry. These issues allow the wastewater industry to talk to the general public and get noticed. Prior to that, no one really wanted to talk about what we deal with on a daily basis.
What do you most enjoy about working with your agency?
I get great satisfaction in seeing the impact of my energy and effort at the local level. I greatly enjoy being part of the larger water and wastewater industry groups, such as CASA. There is nothing like seeing the fruits of your labors as directly as you do when you live and work in the same community.
What is a project or accomplishment you consider the most significant in your career?
I noticed right away there was a significant disconnect in communications between San Mateo County’s efforts managing water, wastewater and storm water issues and the individual agencies on the coastside. I created the Coastside One Water workgroup to get representatives from approximately 12 agencies and county departments together on a regular (quarterly) basis. The workgroup allows us to talk about outreach and education opportunities and ways to ensure that everyone is included in the broader countywide efforts. We have since participated in several coastside events and received positive feedback.
What types of trends do you see in the wastewater industry in the coming year, five years and 10 years?
I believe we will see a greater focus on collaboration between the public and private sectors managing water, energy, air quality and related resources. The wastewater industry is entering a new era of infrastructure needs and it will be too expensive to shoulder that load on the backs of the ratepayers. Finding ways to leverage our resources (recycled water, energy production, etc.) will give us a way to offset our increasing operating and maintenance costs as well as public/private partnerships for infrastructure improvements.
What advice would you give to employees starting their wastewater career?
Get involved! This is a fantastic time to be in this industry. The new generation of operators and maintenance technicians will have the opportunity to be part of setting the direction and implementing the changes. The best way to do that is to get involved with organizations like CASA who are focused on the future.
I think it is also imperative to invest in non-traditional workforce opportunities. Women make up a small percentage of the current water and wastewater workforce. We need to get more women in high profile (general manager, district engineer, department head, etc.) positions so the next generation can see the career path opportunities.
What activities do you enjoy?
I have spent the past 20 years balancing my career and raising my daughters. Now that they are moving on to college and their own careers, I am working on new ways to be involved in my community outside of work.
I am currently writing a professional paper on neurodiversity in the public agency workforce and being a spokesperson for Neurodivergent employees’ rights. I plan to present my paper (at upcoming conferences) and discuss how my recommendations can benefit public agency management and human resource practitioners.
I also enjoy working on my family’s genealogy and spending time with my furry children.
Why did you initially become involved in CASA?
I became involved in CASA when I was appointed to the Mt. View Sanitary District Board of Directors. I joined because I understood how important it is for elected officials and decision makers to have a broad understanding of the industry and emerging issues.
Even though I had to step down from my elected position when I accepted my current position, I have maintained my involvement in CASA for the same reasons.
What has your membership with CASA provided?
The Sewer Authority Mid-Coastside is a Joint Powers Authority providing conveyance and treatment of wastewater to its member agencies. The agency is functionally and financially different than most of the water and wastewater special districts or departments within cities and counties.
CASA has provided the opportunity to network with general managers and directors of other JPAs to discuss the challenges we face that other types of agencies do not share.
I have also enjoyed serving on CASA’s Utility Leadership Committee and the opportunity to share and receive the benefit of the experience and advice of my fellow committee members.