Member Profile: A 20 Year Journey in Wastewater Management

Members in the News

At this year’s Annual Conference in San Diego, we had the honor of interviewing Rachel Lather, an industry professional and dedicated CWEA member. With over two decades of experience in wastewater, Rachel currently serves as a district engineer at Carmel Area Wastewater District. Her journey started with a promotion to the role of sewer sanitation engineer, and she attributes much of her success to the knowledge gained from attending CWEA’s annual conferences. In this Q&A session, Rachel shares her member experience with a career in the field of wastewater management.

Can you tell us about your career journey and how you became involved with CWEA?

I was promoted to a position in public works as a sewer sanitation engineer and I wanted to learn more so I started going to CWEA conferences to learn how to do my job and how to be good at it. That was 20 years ago. I can’t believe it’s been that long. It was 2001 when I got that promotion.

How has your CWEA membership benefited your career and professional development over the years?

CWEA has been instrumental in my professional growth. I’ve learned about innovative techniques and methods required for sewer replacement and manhole lining. Additionally, I gained insights into cutting-edge technologies for inspection, such as using smart balls. This technology played a vital role in a successful project involving our force main. CWEA provides a platform to explore various aspects of wastewater management beyond just installing pipes in the ground.

As an active member of CWEA, what are some of the most valuable experiences or opportunities you’ve had within the organization?

I’ve had the privilege of serving as the President of my local section, chairing the Collection Systems Committee, and I was also on the northern regional Board. I’ve had the opportunity to speak at conferences and moderate discussions, which has enhanced my public speaking and leadership skills. It has been a stepping stone for my personal and professional growth.

Can you share an example of how CWEA’s networking opportunities have positively impacted your career?

CWEA’s networking events led me to change jobs; I was offered a position after someone I met at the conference recommended me. I didn’t even have to put together a resume. Before that even, as a consultant, I met someone here that I called up and she said she would love to work with me.

What advice would you give to individuals looking to join CWEA and pursue a career in wastewater?

I recommend joining CWEA as a student. The organization provides a valuable platform to learn and grow in this field. The next conference is in Sacramento, so students from schools like UC Davis and Sac State should consider attending. Becoming a part of the CWEA family can open doors to numerous opportunities and connections within the industry.