First Poo & Brew & Stormwater Too!

In July, the NEWEA Young Professionals Committee, in tandem with the Maine WEA (MEWEA) Young Professionals Committee, hosted a Poo & Brew event in South Portland, ME. This specific event was our first “Poo & Brew & Stormwater, Too” event, in which a tour of local stormwater BMPs was incorporated between the WWTF and brewery tours.

The event drew a crowd of 25 attendees to the South Portland WWTF, which sits along the Fore River and is capable of treating 22.9 MGD with three clarifiers online. The majority of attendees convened at Foulmouthed Brewing in South Portland after the event for a peek inside the beer brewing process and to network with young and seasoned professionals alike.

The WWTF tour was led by young professional Dylan Leslie. He was coming into his sixth month as a Wastewater Operator at the WWTF. We took a moment to delve a little deeper into his interest in the field, how he got to be a wastewater operator, and, coincidentally, his interest in brewing beer.

Leslie first became interested in the wastewater industry during his undergraduate studies at Central Connecticut State University. Courses like wetland ecology and soil and water resources really piqued his interest, as well as employment and life experiences after school. He credits his Thru-Hike on the Appalachian Trail as incredibly influential in his interest in the water industry: “I was exposed to the hiker’s outhouse, aka anaerobic and aerobic composting toilets. The trail also made me cautious of where I obtained my water source as well as the treatment of water,” says Leslie.

After his stint on the trail, he became employed as a Field Operations Assistant position at Casella Organics. “After Casella, I dipped my toes in the clean water side as a lab technician for a water quality lab.” It was there, he says, that he learned about “the JETCC (Joint Environmental Training Coordinating Committee) program…and that South Portland Water Resource Protection was hiring for Operator positions.”

During this time, he also found a passion for brewing beer, an interest in which he finds “resounding similarities” with his career: “The most striking similarities are the environmental conditions needed to stimulate bacterial growth in the plant’s biomass and yeast production, including light exposure, ambient temperature, pH, Dissolved Oxygen, Total Dissolved Solids, Total Suspended Solids” and more.

We also asked him his advice for other graduates or young professionals looking to get into the water industry. His response? “There are plenty of awesome people working in the industry, and many different facets of it to work in”. He looks forward to learning and growing as a professional in the industry, and we anticipate he will lead by example to encourage other young professionals to do the same.

Both the NEWEA and MEWEA YPs are grateful to Fred Dillon for his stormwater expertise, Paul Collins for his in-depth knowledge of the WWTF, Dylan Leslie for his tour of the facility, and to all for their time and participation that made this such a successful event!

Article Courtesy of Allison Fisher, Young Professionals Committee Member.

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