Renee- women of wastewater winer

Taylor Troutman

Position: Wastewater Operations Specialist

Company: Pennsylvania Municipality

Time in the Industry: 5 Years in May

“One thing about the wastewater industry that surprised me and continues to surprise me everyday is that you never ever stop learning. All of the people in the industry are so willing to learn and also, so willing to teach you.”

What does a typical day look like for you on the job?

A typical day for me begins with calibrating all the lab instruments & equipment in preparation for sample readings. I collect numerous samples from different stages in the process throughout the entirety of the day. I analyze and record results of the pH, DO, Chlorine, MLSS, etc. With the recorded results taken from the wastewater samples, I am responsible for submitting the reports to DEP monthly. I also oversee and manage all plant operations from the dewatering process to the disinfection process. I wear many hats in the wastewater industry. Day to day operations vary for me. For example, I serve as the Townships’ SEO (sewage enforcement officer), so I could be checking on lot disposal systems one day, to inspecting grease traps for the Fats, Oils & Grease Pretreatment Program and the next day I could be down in an aeration basin performing maintenance. The variance in the daily workload is actually refreshing and keeps the job fun!

Have you enjoyed educating the public about your job? What has been the response from your community?

I have enjoyed educating the public about my career. It is humorous to see their faces when you tell them that when they flush their toilets or take a shower, it doesn’t just go underground and disappear forever, it eventually ends up going back into the creek. Most communities are uneducated on wastewater. But, the bits that are educated, I think do take away something from it and are more mindful about what they flush or what they pour down the drain. Outreach is a huge part of my career. Making people aware of what they do effects what we do is huge. We send out quarterly newsletters in the Township and always try to include something education regarding wastewater.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in the wastewater field? Did you always want to work in this field or was there a defining moment in which you chose this path?

I decided to pursue a career in the wastewater field because it is never going away. There will always be a need for proper means of sanitation.  It is so satisfying to see where you start with the influent wastewater and to know that the quality of the effluent you are putting back into the environment is excellent. Also, I love the outdoors, fishing, boating & swimming and without wastewater treatment, those recreational activities would not be permitted. I always wanted to go to a trade school and get into trades rather than a 4-year college.

What thing about your career in wastewater has surprised you most?

One thing about the wastewater industry that surprised me and continues to surprise me everyday is that you never ever stop learning. All of the people in the industry are so willing to learn and also, so willing to teach you. If you think you know it all in the wastewater field, then you do not belong in the field because you learn something new EVERYDAY it doesn’t matter what position you are from Operator to Manager.

Lessons from parents/role models that still ring true?

Do not give up and never say “I can’t” because you can. There really is no such thing as failing, but if there was you must give yourself permission to fail. If you never fail, you never learn. If you never learn you will never grow.

“I would like to see effluent from a wastewater plant go right to the influent of the water treatment plant be a more common thing. Talk about renewable resources.”

What advice would you give other women looking to pursue a career in this field?

Pursue it. Do it. This is the best career ever. I will never regret my decision of pursuing a career in the wastewater field. There are not many women in the field and that can look to be intimidating but it is not. If anything these men may be more intimidated by us ladies. It would be amazing to see more women in the field because by nature, we do look at things differently then men. This may sound stereotypical but, overall consensus states “men think more logically and women think more empathetically. This in return brings great diversity to the workforce which in the end allows teams to work better together from my experience. A quote a saw in a magazine once says, “ Our male counterparts may initially question our skills as women. But working hard and doing the job well ends that conversation pretty quick.” But in closing, if you are looking to pursue a career in this field, do not look back, just do it.


Inspiring Women of Wastewater™

In 2017, Aquafix has launched a new campaign to honor the hardworking female wastewater operators that make up only about 5% of the industry. We want to use our platform to project these voices, and introduce the women of tomorrow to a whole new set of role models. To learn more about the Inspiring Women of Wastewater™ program, and to sign up or nominate another outstanding female operator follow the link below!