Nicole-Greenwood, City of Riverside

Emerging Leader: Nicole Greenwood, Wastewater Resource Analyst

Roni Gehkle, Clean Water Magazine Editor, Emerging Leaders

Nicole Greenwood, an aquarium marine biologist turned Wastewater Resource Analyst, has successfully transitioned into an industry she never expected to be a part of. Despite having no prior knowledge of the water/wastewater industry laboratory positions, she has quickly gained expertise and thrives in the dynamic work environment of the City of Riverside Wastewater Treatment Plant laboratory. Each day presents exciting new challenges and opportunities for growth, making for an engaging and fulfilling career.

“It’s so cool to work in this industry,” Greenwood said. “We flush the toilets and don’t think of all that data going down the drain.”

Greenwood kicked off her professional journey in California and later relocated to Miami. Wanting to return to California, her job hunt led her to a rewarding opportunity in an environmental lab. She diligently worked her way up the ladder to a managerial position and eventually transitioned to the City of Riverside, where she has been for three years. She also obtained her CWEA LAB certification grade 1.

“When I started, I was the sole person in the lab on Saturdays,” she said. “I had to take care of all the analysis and call in any issues.”

The city of Riverside operates two wastewater treatment plants, one using activated sludge to tertiary treatment and the other using MBR technology. These plants serve a population of 300,000 in the city and surrounding area. Over 800 miles of public sewers transport the wastewater to the Riverside Regional Water Quality Control Plant, where it is treated and recycled for irrigation or discharged into the Santa Ana River.

“Nicole demonstrated immense troubleshooting abilities while working solo on the weekends and was someone her supervisor could rely on to accomplish all tasks assigned in a timely and efficient manner,” said Robert Eland, Technical and Compliance Manager for the City of Riverside.

Eland went on to say that Greenwood was quickly promoted to the Environmental Compliance department due to “her exceptional laboratory skills in sampling and holding times.” She took on the task of inspecting facilities and quickly completed Sac State’s Pretreatment Facility Inspection course. As a result, she was promoted to the position of Wastewater Resource Analyst, where her extensive knowledge and skills in Environmental Compliance and laboratory work are essential to achieving the mission and goals of the position.

“Nicole continues to achieve high-performance standards and accomplishes all tasks presented to her with a positive attitude and smile,” Eland said. “She is always willing to assist when needed in her previous departments and has been a pivotal force in bringing on a wastewater surveillance program to the plant and lab.”

Greenwood said that she appreciates that her boss allows her to dip her toes into different things, work with various agencies, bring in new technology, and pursue her work with wastewater surveillance.

“There is so much to be learned through wastewater surveillance,” she said, citing testing being completed in opioids and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Recognize accomplished water professionals who are making a significant, positive impact on California’s water by nominating them for an Emerging Leader feature in CWEA’s Clean Water Magazine. Details here >