Employee Spotlight: Al Rich Celebrates 45 Years

This employee spotlight features Al Rich who just celebrated 45 years of working for Charlotte Water. As a Project Coordinator in the Engineering Division, his experience has allowed him to go on an incredible career journey. Learn more about Al Rich and his time with Charlotte Water in this Q&A.

Al Rich, 2023

Tell us about yourself. What drew you to Charlotte Water originally? And how has Charlotte Water changed since?

I was born in Hampton, VA, in 1953, and I was raised in Marietta, Georgia, where my parents moved to in 1954. My Dad worked for Lockheed, all his life as an aeronautical engineer. I attended Southern Technical Institute in Marietta, GA, and got a BCET degree in 1975. I started my career with the City of Charlotte in October of 1978 in the Design Division of the City Engineering department as a Drafting Tech III when we were at the Cameron Brown Building.

I was promoted to Civil Engineer 1 in 1986. I was a rotating E-1 and worked in the planning, contracts, public service, and design divisions. I was right-sized in 1993 and had a choice of working at the airport or at Charlotte Water. I chose Charlotte Water because I like design work that involves checking out project sites in various parts of the county versus just designing items for one particular site, and the Brookshire office is closer to home.

Charlotte Water has changed a lot since I first got here. We had a place called the vault where you had the as-builts. Walk right in and get a real paper or velum of the as built. Now, of course, it’s on a computer, and the vault room is a gym. Now, designs are done on AutoCAD instead of by hand, and instead of having a draftsperson, for the most part, the engineer drafts and designs the project. When I started, most of the paperwork was done on real paper. Now it’s on a computer.

Could you please share your current job title and the story of how you got to where you are today? What was the name of your first position when you started with Charlotte Water?

The name of my first position here was Civil Engineer 1. At some point, they changed the name to Project Coordinator. I have been in this position since I started here in 1993. I like designing the sewer and water along the street because each job is unique, with different challenges to getting the service to the customer.

What does your job entail?

I design water and sanitary sewer extensions along streets with the help of my draftsperson and team when an applicant pays a tap fee and water, or sewer is within 1000′ of the applicant’s property. I help obtain the necessary encroachments and permits for the project. I answer customer questions about the project. I review plans done by consultants for us. I help other members of Design and Construction with their projects.

Carl Wilson (left) and Al Rich (right), 2023

What do you love the most about your job?

What I love most about my job is that the sanitary sewer and water mains we design provide a valuable service to the community by providing water to drink and use in our various economic and recreational endeavors. We return the water to the river in excellent condition. I love riding my bike in Mint Hill and seeing all the sewer and water projects I helped design with my fellow teammates.

Outside of work, what are your favorite things to do?

Outside work, I enjoy riding my bike around Mint Hill and the greenway with a friend. I ride it to Church when the weather cooperates. I have a classic 1964 Corvair convertible, which is currently being completely restored. I grew up with this car when Dad bought it back in 1965. I have two other cars that I enjoy working on and keeping in good shape, and of course, they are American.

Al Rich, 2018

What’s your favorite memory working with Charlotte Water?

I will always enjoy how the Design and Construction teams work well together and all the good people I have met throughout Charlotte Water. When I do retire, I will miss the people here.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve seen on the job?

Observing the installation of the pipe I had designed, and seeing a jack and bore being installed.

What’s the best advice you can give to someone who just started their career with Charlotte Water?

Take advantage of the opportunities to further your education. If given the opportunity, check out the various divisions/sections of Charlotte Water and, decide which part you enjoy doing the most and go for it.