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News: Member Portrait

Member Portrait: John Dodson

Monday, December 18, 2017  
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Originally published in the Summer 2017 issue of NC Currents magazine.

 

John Dodson always knew he did not want a desk job. “I wanted something where I could be outside,” said the Wastewater Superintendent for the City of Durham. “I toured a wastewater plant before I entered college and decided this is what I wanted to do. It was a good mix of indoor and outdoor work. I could feel like I was making a difference and it was a good, stable career.”

 

Dodson’s career started at the City of Durham. In 1998, after graduating from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Resource Management, he accepted a position as a plant operator at the North Durham Water Reclamation Facility.

 

Not long after starting as an operator, Dodson became actively involved with the NC AWWA-WEA’s Wastewater Schools Committee, teaching at the annual Biological

Wastewater Operators and Physical/Chemical Operators Schools. He has continued ever since. “I really enjoy teaching and networking with other folks in the business,” he says. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people at different conferences and seminars. My experience with the NC AWWA-WEA has really helped me advance in my career.”

 

One such opportunity for advancement arrived in 2004. After a brief stint as the reclaimed water coordinator for the Town of Cary, Dodson became the plant manager at the City of Greensboro’s T.Z. Osborne Waste-water Treatment Plant, a facility with the capacity to treat 40 million gallons per day.

 

Two years later, the City of Durham came calling. It was clear they wanted him back, this time for the role of Superintendent. But that did not mean that Dodson would be spending all his time behind a desk. A true hands-on leader, he serves as the Opera-tor in Responsible Charge (ORC) for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit as well as the land application permit.

 

He also supervises a staff of 16 operators and mechanics, overseeing the day-to-day operations. Dodson is also responsible for managing the operations and maintenance budget.

 

Although he enjoys his work with compliance, he admits that it can also be quite challenging. “Compliance is totally dependent on the biology in the plant and what comes down the pipe,” says Dodson. “It’s something different every day.”

 

As for being outdoors, there are plenty of opportunities for that as well. He still remembers his first experience seeing both the inside and outside of a plant, and it’s something he wants to share. “I really enjoy giving tours, whether it’s for kids or adults,” he explains. “I love talking about what we do and how we do it.”

 

Dodson knows it’s important to prepare the next generation to step in and assume responsibility for keeping water and the environment safe. It is one of the reasons that he continues to teach at the waste-water schools and give tours of the plant.

 

Dodson realizes that he won’t be working forever. After finishing his career with Durham, he and his wife plan to retire in the mountains, either in North Carolina or in Pennsylvania. Until then, he looks forward to continuing his work as a superintendent, keeping the plant running smoothly, both inside and out.


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