Meet Emerging Leader: Anna Bell, Valley Sanitation District

CA Water Pros, Emerging Leaders, Members in the News, Wastewater Life, Women in Water

Anna Bell not only knows her laboratory, she understands the treatment process and how the lab data affect plant operations. 

That’s because she’s not only a certified laboratory analyst, she’s also a grade V wastewater operator, and that enables her to know exactly what the analytical data mean out there where the wastewater meets the tanks. 

“I understand what the numbers mean, and I can translate them into the actual treatment process,” she says. “I can help troubleshoot issues and optimize our treatment process.”  

Anna studied biology and majored in zoology at Oklahoma State University. She worked in a commercial lab, then for a wastewater treatment facility in Nevada where she earned her operator certification. She’s been at Valley Sanitation (Indio) for seven years. Until recently, when the district hired a lab assistant, she has been responsible for all testing, chain of custody, all ELAP and QA-QC testing, and contracted lab work. 

The Covid-19 pandemic means Bell has to be creative with schedules and division of tasks.  

We are a small, two-person lab. Many bench work stations are close by or overlap space, making a six-foot radius difficult to impose,” she says. “We have had to find inventive ways to try maintaining normal laboratory functions, productivity, and performance to minimize our potential impact to operations. With my lab technician being new and still in training, we have had to put demonstrations on hold. We are constantly planning for what our next steps will be if one or both of us is put in quarantine. 

Bell’s experience and dedication mean a lot to her district. “Her knowledge of wastewater operations is a huge benefit,” says plant supervisor Beverli Marshall. “She gets involved in plant trouble-shooting, and works closely with the chief plant operator to make sure the process control information is communicated to the operations staff. 

 “She is as much operations team as she is lab technician.”

Such double duty will only help Anna achieve her professional goals down the road. She wants to be a general manager and play a role in helping the public understand the importance of the clean water profession.


We are looking for accomplished water professionals who are making a significant, positive impact on California’s water and they have not yet been recognized for that effort.

Emerging leader describes an individual who:

  • Has demonstrated the potential to assume a leadership role in an organization.
  • Are strong performers who have the potential, ability, and aspiration for continuing their impact on the profession in a leadership role.
  • Show commitment to the organization, exert influence, and demonstrate a willingness to step up and take on more responsibility.
  • Have desire to grow both personally and professionally through networking with like-minded professionals and volunteer work in our profession.
  • Impact will last for a couple of years or more.

Nominators need to be a CWEA member. The nominee does not have to be a CWEA member but should be involved with California water and should live in California. Self nominations are eligible – make your case for the impact you’ve had and you might get picked!

The Emerging Leaders will be selected by a panel of seasoned industry leaders and will be interviewed and profiled in Clean Water.

Nominations due April 1!

Submit application.