Member Profile: Charles Tyler, MWRA Process Operations

Charlie Tyler 5S Influent Integrator

Charlie Tyler
5S Influent Integrator

In this issue, we profile a man of many talents and a one of a kind, NEWEA Past President, Assessment and Development Committee Chair, Executive Committee Parliamentarian, photographer extraordinaire, and operator’s operator, Charles Tyler. Charlie has been an active member of NEWEA since 1984, and is presently employed by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority as a Program Manager with the Process Group at the Deer Island Treatment Plant. He is a licensed Grade 7 Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator. His work activities are focused on process efficiency, optimization, startup, and troubleshooting at one of the largest and most complex wastewater treatment plants in the world.

As anyone who knows Charlie would expect, his journey through our water industry is quite fascinating and revealing. Charlie grew up on a farm in western New York in South Byron, located between Buffalo and Rochester. Hoping to escape from pitching manure for a living, he attended the State University of New York at Geneseo where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications. During Charlie’s formative years, after college, in the mid-1970s, the United States was experiencing a significant recession and jobs for graduates were scarce. Charlie being resourceful and open minded about his future career path, took advantage of a program available at that time, the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) program, which was developed to help Americans find jobs that matched their individual skillsets. Charlie passed a Civil Service examination and found that he had an aptitude for wastewater treatment. At the time, the EPA was funding work across the nation to upgrade existing plants and build new ones, and many plants were seeking operators. Charlie found himself in the middle of this perfect storm, and seizing the opportunities that were available, became a licensed operator at the City of Batavia NY wastewater treatment facility (he never did escape that manure after all).

_CWT6305After serving several years at this 2 MGD activated sludge secondary treatment plant, he found out through his sister that an opportunity at a small plant at Regis College in Weston, MA was available. He applied for the position and was hired, so he relocated to Massachusetts to take on a new challenge running a dilapidated 50,000 gpd sand filter and lagoon facility. After a brief time at Regis, a new opportunity at the Town of Marshfield’s 2 MGD new wastewater treatment plant became available. After several years there, like many of his colleagues in the late 1980s, Charlie took on a new assignment with the Construction Management team of PSG/ICF Kaiser/ Stone and Webster for the Boston Harbor Project where he worked on operations planning and input to the design, construction, and startup of the Deer Island Treatment Plant and related facilities. After participating at ground level (and well below) on this massive and critically important project for several years, Charlie decided to return to the public sector and accepted a process position during start-up activities at the Deer Island Treatment Plant with the MWRA where he has been since 1994.

Charlie was fortunate that his employers at the time recognized the value of involvement with professional associations; in 1980 he became a member of the Massachusetts Water Pollution Control Association and later became more active by joining their Safety Committee. Shortly thereafter, he was encouraged to join the New England Water Pollution Control Association (NEWPCA, now NEWEA) and participated on its Safety Committee as well.

Charlie has always been a willing, active, and engaged volunteer, and his efforts were soon recognized by the NEWEA leadership. In 1996, he was nominated to serve as the NEWEA Massachusetts State Director. After finishing his term as State Director in 1999, he was nominated to serve as Vice President, and subsequently served as NEWEA’s President in 2001. During his presidency, Charlie emphasized the importance for NEWEA to be a friendly and welcoming organization and to encourage young professionals and women members to be active and to serve in leadership roles. After finishing his term as Past President, he served as a WEF Delegate for three years. He continues to be active on WEF work groups and committees. Charlie is a member of the Select Society of Sanitary Sludge Shovelers (5S) and his contributions to NEWEA and his professional achievements have been recognized with the William D. Hatfield Award, Clair N. Sawyer Award, E. Sherman Chase Award, and Quarter Century Operator Club.

What Charlie finds important in our industry is the connection we have to each other, our care and commitment to the work we do and its vital importance to society. Charlie feels our industry is filled with people with high character and spirit that are second to none. He finds it very rewarding that NEWEA provides all of us with a forum to meet and interact with a broad spectrum of colleagues from the consulting, regulatory, manufacturer’s representatives, utility management, and operations sides of our industry.

WP_20140807_001When Charlie is not helping guide the NEWEA ship on a straight and focused course, he enjoys working on many handyman projects at his antique farmhouse in Sherborn MA and playing his guitar. Charlie is a self-taught musician and especially enjoys playing folk music. He is active with his community’s recycling program and can be found at the transfer station coordinating their swap shop and hazardous materials collections. He also excels at photography and is responsible for catching many of the great shots at NEWEA events that are featured in the Journal and Newsletter.

The Newsletter Committee, on behalf of the entire membership of NEWEA, sincerely thanks you Charlie, for your efforts and dedication to NEWEA, your guidance, wisdom, and leadership, your mentorship of so many of our members, your sense of purpose and unwavering spirit, and for being a cherished friend and colleague to so many of us. We wish you the very best in your upcoming retirement from MWRA, but we look forward to your continued active participation and presence with us in NEWEA for many more years to come. We would have it no other way!

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