Category Archives: Employee Spotlights

Something To Be Grateful For

We’re grateful for our Charlotte Water employees who work 24/7/365 so that the rest of us can enjoy the holiday.

As you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal and you are pondering a unique thing to be thankful for, you can be grateful for running water and safely managed sanitation. According to the WHO and UNICEF’s Progress on Household Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Report, only 74% of the world’s population has safe drinking water. That means more than two billion people are without consistent access to clean drinking water.   

Additionally, only 54% of the world’s population has access to safely regulated sanitation services. We are incredibly fortunate to have safe, high-quality water and well-maintained wastewater systems.

Charlotte Water is one of the largest water and sanitation service utilities in the Southeast with over 1,050 employees to support the more than one million residents.  To keep over 9,000 miles of water and wastewater pipes, three water treatment plants, seven wastewater treatment plants, and several water storage, water towers, and facilities all maintained and running 24/7/365, many Charlotte Water employees must work on and through holidays or stay on-call in case of emergencies.   

Leaks and backups happen on holidays, too!

Crystal Josey works as a dispatcher for Charlotte Water. She shares her experience working over holidays:

“My job during the holiday is no different than it is during normal working hours. Water leaks still happen and sewer backups still occur. These incidents happen any time of any day. My job is to take the correct information from the reporting person and send the correct crew to investigate and/or make necessary repairs. A crew must be paged in from home, get everyone together, and get to the truck and the work site.”  

Barbara Armstrong is a Sr. Water Service Technician. She is first on-site for leaks and breaks. She describes her role:

“Water service leaks are unpredictable, and they could happen at any given time including during the holidays. I can repair some water service leaks in an average timeframe of approximately, 10-30 minutes. However emergency main breaks or emergency water service leaks can typically take 2 to 4 hours to complete, and they are completed by a Field Operations Construction Crew. For the most part, we don’t want to interrupt the customers’ holiday, and we only make emergency repairs on the holidays.”  

Don’t wash grease down the pipes

When families making meals wash grease down the sink, the risk of pipes backing up or clogging increases. As the weather gets colder, the grease hardens into solid masses that cause problems.

“Sewer complaints are always handled as an emergency and we seem to receive more sewer calls over the holidays for various reasons. A lot of cooking and grease/food down the drain is not a good thing,” Josey comments.  

Keep this in mind as you prepare your holiday meals! When grease hardens in pipes, it can cause messy, smelly back-ups. These back-ups can cause sewer overflows or even come back into your house. So, wipe your pans out with paper towels, throw them away, and our pipes will continue to flow free.

Say “Hi!” if you see our trucks

Charlotteans wouldn’t be able to appreciate the holiday without dedicated Charlotte Water staff serving the community. Take a moment to thank those who are working diligently to manage these systems and those who are ready to jump in if there is an emergency while you’re celebrating. If you see Charlotte Water trucks in your neighborhood, wave and say hi! Armstrong shares:

Working on the holiday is an added bonus for me because I enjoy serving the community, and it makes me feel proud when customers see me driving a Charlotte Water vehicle throughout their neighborhoods. Customers are very happy to see me arrive at their residence on a holiday. Most of them can’t believe that I am working on a holiday, and then they are very thankful for my service. I take pride in what I do, and I’m always there to help our customers. I try to put their worries at ease and let them know that Charlotte Water will take care of any issue that they may have as long as it’s not on the private side.”  

* Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020: five years into the SDGs. Geneva: World Health
Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2021.

Veterans Day: Highlighting Our Charlotte Water Veterans

We are grateful for the contribution and sacrifice of Veterans and their families everywhere. We have many Veterans who work for Charlotte Water, and their service is invaluable. This Veterans Day we are highlighting some of our staff members who have shared their insights, experiences, and perspectives they have gained from their service, and the influence it has made on how they work and serve our community today. We appreciate their service and their continued dedication to the community.

William Lee

U. S. Army: 10 years of service; Drill Sergeant (Instructor) 

Current Job:

Field Ops Zone Manager: William is currently responsible for the daily operations and leadership for thirty-five employees in Zone 1 which services three townships and the City of Charlotte. 

What I learned from my service:

“In my experience of serving my country, it allowed me to gather a vast amount of knowledge and skills that were transferable to me becoming a productive citizen and leader in the civilian world.” 

Nathan Kamphaus

United States Coast Guard: 2000-2004 Active; 2004-2008 Reserve 

Current Job

IDS Plans Reviewer: Nathan is responsible for New Service Plan Reviews 

What I learned from my service: 

“For any public service, I think integrity and honesty whether it be with your shipmates or coworkers is the base of a successful career and reputation. Always try to better yourself….no matter how hard any task looks stay positive and you will make it through.” 

Michele Duval

US Air Force: 20 years 

Current Job

Technology Support Specialist: Michele provides technical support for the department. 

What I learned from my service:

“In the Air Force, we are all there to support the jets, the pilots, and their mission. My role in that was tech support and now I am providing tech support for the men and women dedicated to providing clean water to the Charlotte community. I’m very proud to be a part of this.” 

Michele Duval (center)

Mark Goodman

Army: 11 years; Army Reserve: 31 years 

Current Job

Utility Management Systems Manager in CLT Water Technology: Mark is responsible for planning and leading a variety of billing and customer service technology projects and efforts. 

What I learned from my service: 

“I learned how to apply an array of leadership skills in very challenging technical environments.” 

Tamara Byers

US Army

Current Job:

Human Resources Manager for CLT Water

What I learned from my service:

Leadership – I learned how to lead a squad and work with people with all types of backgrounds, attitudes, and personalities. This experience has prepared me for my role as an HR Manager. You have to have confidence in the decisions that you make 

Team player – In the military you always had the “Buddy System”. You need others in order to accomplish a mission. Each person has their own role but collectively we have the confidence to make it happen. 

Adaptability – You have to learn how to adapt in any situation. You learn how to be creative and think outside the box no matter what is thrown at you. This is essential in any job. 

Integrity – Being in the military, you have to adhere to a strict moral code. In my role, being an honest person, trustworthy and dependable is essential to the role I currently hold.” 

Jason Bromirski

Army Reserve: 2009 – present 

Current Job

Senior Engineer in the Field Operations Division: Jason’s group, Strategic Operations Support, provides condition assessments on our sewer infrastructure by testing our sewer lines for blockages.

What I learned from my service:

“The biggest thing I learned is probably remaining calm under pressure. It doesn’t matter if it is a large break in a sewer line that is dumping into a creek or a large water main that has ruptured, remaining calm and thinking through the problem and the steps needed to repair the situation gives other people confidence that we as a team can get things back to normal. Another important piece is constant communication with staff on-site, so they know the plan, our public affairs staff, compliance personnel, Chiefs of Operations, Deputy Directors, and the Director. They all update internal and external entities with current information, and you would rather have that be an information push than an information pull.”

Jason Bromirski (right)

Ron Wallace

US Army and Army Reserves: 23 years; retired 

Current Job

Treatment Plant Maintenance Supervisor: Ron is currently working on Special Projects for the Maintenance Division (Cathodic Protection, Engineer Parcels, and CityWorks).

What I learned from my service:

“I learned how to be patient with people and listen to their concerns.” 

Ron Wallace (right)

Employee Spotlight: O’Brien Walls

This employee spotlight features Flemming “O’Brien” Walls who just celebrated 40 years of working for Charlotte Water. O’Brien currently works as a Planner Scheduler in the Field Operations Division, and in this Q&A session, he shares with us what his career path has looked like over these past 40 years, and recognizes those who have helped to shape his career.

O’Brien Walls, Case Manager in 1998

Tell us about yourself and how your career began with Charlotte Water?

I’m happily married, Debbie and I have five grown adults and seven adorable grandkids. We attend Millennium Temple Baptist Church where I serve as chair trustee. I graduated from West Charlotte High School back in 1979 and continued my education for two years at The Winston Salem State University. I joined the City of Charlotte Utilities Wastewater Collections Division on December 9, 1981, as a Laborer I. While there my parents advised me to always check the vacancy sheet, and with me knowing I was starting from the bottom, my motivation was to learn all that I could because I knew I aspired to be in management one day.

Can you provide an overview of your career path with Charlotte Water?

I quickly started climbing my career ladder. In 1983 I was promoted to Laborer II and transferred over to the Customer Service Division off of Patton Avenue. In 1988, I became a Water Service Technician, and then my next move was into the supervisory position in 1989 as a Crew Chief I. In 1996, I became a Crew Chief II Large Meter Maintenance Supervisor, where I supervised four of our two-men crews that were responsible for keeping our commercial water meters running accurately. In 1998 I became a Case Manager where I was responsible for two Water Quality Technicians and half of the county water quality, and high- and low-pressure complaints. Lastly, in 2004, I transitioned to my current position as a Planner Scheduler in Field Operations.

O’Brien Walls, in 1989 and 1996

What do you love the most about your job?

The enjoyment of working for CLTWater and the public, the camaraderie at CLTWater, the stability in this industry, and my personal growth.

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

The main break we had several years ago on Freedom Drive where the street buckled up for approximately a quarter of a mile; it looked like an earthquake had commenced.

What is your favorite memory of working with Charlotte Water?

My co-workers and managers; I have met a plethora of friends that have become family!

Throughout my tenure I’ve had several mentors and influential people that I would like to mention: Curtis Mingo, Jean McClain, Dowd Yandle, William Mason, Charles Pluchinsky, Angela Charles, Ed Dehlin, Claudette Beatty, Kelly Dixon, Marion Sanders, and David “Doc” St. Laurent.

Engineering Week & Black History Month Spotlight: Carl Wilson, Chief Engineer

This double feature spotlight is on Chief Engineer, Carl Wilson, who is the first African-American male Chief Engineer for Charlotte Water. Check out our Q&A with Carl, as he shares some of his story with us.

Tell us about your background and career path – what inspired you to become an engineer?

“I am from the great state of South Carolina where I earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of South Carolina. I always wanted to pursue a career in the science field but allowed people to talk me out of it. However, after graduating and working for Bank of America as a Research Analyst, I didn’t feel satisfied, so I quit my job, moved to Charlotte, and started working for a temporary agency where I was introduced to surveying and the civil engineering field. I was eventually hired in the newly started Storm Water department. After working there, I was promoted to a position in CDOT and eventually promoted to a position with CLTWater (CMUD at the time). Since joining CLTWater, I have been in six positions as I worked my way through the organization, starting as an Engineering Assistant in New Services (Account Services) in 1995 to my current job, Chief Engineer of Capital Projects and Operations Support.”

How long have you been working for Charlotte Water?

“I have been working for CLTWater for 26 years.”

Can you provide an overview of the work you do – a brief “day-in-the-life” description?

“Unfortunately, I no longer am involved with project management activities. Instead, my day is filled with various meetings and decision-making on various topics, ranging from project updates to departmental and/or City strategic discussions.”

What do you love the most about your job?

“I enjoy being a part of a department that’s responsible for providing a vital service to the community.”

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

“I’ve seen quite a bit over the years, so where do I start?? I would say how much our department has changed over the years in response to the tremendous growth of our service area.”

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I love spending time with my family, riding my motorcycle, and playing golf.