Member Spotlight: Richard Finger

richard finger

The Member Services Committee is excited to promote our amazing volunteers in our section of the monthly digest. If you know someone we should feature in the “Member Spotlight,” send an email to committee Vice Chair Jen Murphy. For our next spotlight, we would like to introduce you to Richard Finger. Take it away, Richard.

What would you recommend for folks wanting to get involved in PNCWA? WEF?
Talk to your peers who are members of WEF and/or PNCWA to see where you might “fit in.” Also, check out the PNCWA website to see which committees are involved in your area(s) of interest. Don’t be shy about volunteering.

Where did you go to school, what was your degree, and did you have any focus areas?
Got a BS in Chemistry from the University of Washington and an MS in Chemistry from San Diego State College (now University). My primary focus was Analytical Chemistry.

What has been your career path (employer(s)/role(s)), and how has it changed over time?
I began work as a Chemist with Metro in 1968 and then worked at the Renton Plant as Process Control Supervisor from 1969 to 1996, and as West Section Manager from 1996 to 2005. I retired in July 2005 but continue to work on various projects as a self-employed consultant. My areas of focus include wastewater process control, odor control, water reuse, and wastewater O&M.

What was your first introduction to PNCWA?
It was too far back to remember specifically. I got involved in WEF and probably PNCWA in 1972. I was encouraged to become involved by people with whom I worked.

What is your current volunteer role within PNCWA? WEF?
I am presently serving on the WEF Air Quality Impacts Committee, Utility Management Committee, Plant Operations and Maintenance Committee, and Reuse Committee, as well as several WERF Project subcommittees. I am also a member of the PNCWA Resource Recovery, Residual and Biosolids, Member Services, Plant Operations and Maintenance, and Odor Committees. In addition, I am involved in reviewing abstracts for both the WEF and PNCWA conferences and other workshops.

What projects, programs, or initiatives are you working on and excited about?
Keeping active in multiple committees in both organizations. One fun activity is serving on the WEF Plant Operations and Maintenance Subcommittee developing operator essential articles for the Water Environment Technology publication.

What is something that you love about your job/the water industry?
My formal education was in chemistry and local options were primarily in the industrial area. I “stumbled” into a position with Metro in the water quality division as a chemist. I then moved over to operations in Process Control (still lots of chemistry). I ended up learning wastewater treatment technology through various formal and informal ways. The greatest thing working in the water industry is that I am helping to protect the environment.

What’s an example of how 2020/2021/COVID changed what you do?
Like everyone else, the transition to virtual meetings was the biggest impact. Due to family issues, I am unable to travel, so, to an extent, I have been less directly affected than many. Being retired helps, too.

What’s one of your goals for 2022?
To be honest, at my age, it is to stay active and survive into 2023 and beyond. As one of the individuals with whom I worked used to say, “Every day is a bonus.”

What is a hobby or favorite activity? Any pets?
When my wife and I could travel, it was cruising. Over the years, we racked up more than 30 cruises and have been around the Horn, visited Iceland, Greenland, St. Petersburg, and many other places. At this point, we are down to one elderly cat, but, over the years, have had multiple cats and dogs. Back in the day, we bred and showed Siamese cats.

Do you have any off-the-beaten-path recommendations for visitors to your city?
There are lots of things to see and do, so do your research to find what you are interested in.

What is next for you in your career, PNCWA, WEF, and/or outside of work?
I intend to keep active in WEF and PNCWA and am always open to consulting projects that can be accomplished remotely. Since retiring, I have been involved in several Value Engineering projects and other consulting activities, so I hope to find other opportunities where I can contribute remotely.

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