Emerging Leader: Liz Durbin, Ojai Valley Sanitary District

Emerging Leaders, Members in the News

LIz Durbin, Project Manager, Ojai Valley Sanitary District

It’s a safe bet that Liz Dubrin will spend the rest of her career providing clean water for her community. As project manager for the Ojai Valley Sanitary District, she brims with enthusiasm  for her work and colleagues, and can’t see herself doing anything else in the future.

“I love my job,” she says. She enjoys the challenge and the variety as she oversees a range of assignments from manhole cover replacementss to sewer lining main rehabilitation to wastewater treatment expansion.

“There are only 20 of us here in both treatment and collections,” she says. “I have a hand in all of our work, helping determine what needs to be done, where the inefficiencies are, and what’s the best use of our funds.” It’s a challenge that excites her. “There are a million ways to find a solution that’s simple, makes sense, and cost effective,” she says.

Dubrin graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in environmental engineering, and first took a job in the oilfield. But five years ago, she joined the OVSD staff. She calls the move “lucky” because it enabled her to return to her chosen field –wastewater, fresh water, and sustainability. “It was a perfect fit,” she says.

The district serves 20,000 constituents and operates a biological treatment facility which discharges to the Ventura River. Biosolids are composted for community use.

Expansion of the plant to meet new TMDL requirements for nitrogen is on Dubrin’s list of major challenges. “It’s important that we make sure the new system works as intended, and that it’s operator-friendly,” she says. “It’s an awesome thing project to be part of.”

Dubrin appreciates the quality of the small staff at Ojai Valley, and the chance to collaborate with treatment, distribution and collections specialists, as well as personnel from other agencies and contractors.

She doubly appreciates her mentors. “I have some really smart mentors,” she says. “I want to learn and apply as much as I can. I can’t imagine ever leaving this industry.”