Craig Elitharp, Keeping an Open Mind is the Key to Success in Wastewater

Craig Elitharp has worked in water for over three decades. In addition to serving on CASA’s Board of Directors, he has been a member of the Vallecitos Water District’s Board of Directors since 2014. Craig is a Registered Civil Engineer in the State of California and holds California State Water Resources Control Board Division of Drinking Water certifications as a Grade 5 Water Distribution Operator and Grade 3 Water Treatment Operator.

Over his 30 year career, Craig has seen a marked shift in mindset within the wastewater industry. The traditional view that wastewater agencies exist simply to dispose of undesirable waste products, he says, has transitioned toward a more positive and proactive attitude around maximizing resource recovery wherever feasible, including areas like energy, biosolids and water recycling for potable and non-potable uses.

One of his favorite projects took place when he was an operations manager for a large retail water and wastewater agency. He fondly recalls his role as project manager for the implementation of a state of the art Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition System, or SCADA system. His hard work paid off, as the system was named an Energy Efficiency Showcase by the California Energy Commission.

Once he retired, Craig became a Vallecitos board member, which gave him the opportunity to start attending CASA events more regularly. He feels his CASA membership has provided him with an outstanding networking forum for the California clean water community. CASA provides him an impressive informational resource for technical, regulatory and legal advocacy issues.

Craig takes pride in Vallecitos Water District’s talented and hard-working staff and enjoys his own personal interaction with this dedicated group. His advice for professionals looking to join the wastewater industry is to work diligently to obtain as many operator certifications as possible. He truly hopes people take advantage of employers’ continuing education programs, of which there are several within the wastewater industry. Elitharp believes that being willing to expand your comfort zone to take on new challenges can lead to a satisfying and successful career in wastewater.