Female engineers climb leadership ranks at EP Water

With six female engineers at the helm of EP Water, diversity in leadership for women in the water sector can be described as a rising tide at the utility.

Irazema Rojas, Capital Improvement Program Manager, and Aide Fuentes, Wastewater Treatment Manager, are happy to welcome new engineers entering the fold at EPWater.  Rojas and Fuentes are only two of the six female engineers in leadership roles at the utility.

  • Water Production Manager Veronica Galindo
  • Engineering Division Manager Amy Castner for Water/Wastewater Engineering
  • Engineering Division Manager Adriana Castillo for Planning and Development
  • Engineering Division Manager Gisela Dagnino for Stormwater Engineering

All play an important role in the design and maintenance of EPWater’s water and wastewater systems and policy-making.

At EPWater, both Fuentes and Rojas found that stepping outside their initial job descriptions altered their career paths significantly.

Fuentes has been promoted in management twice at EPWater, first as Water Production Manager to her current role as Wastewater Treatment Manager. In her career, every day has been different, with not a dull moment in sight.

“It’s been fun,” Fuentes said. “I have seen construction, design, how we operate wells on the production side, how water distribution works and now I am getting to see the wastewater side.”

“I have had to be flexible – big time – and open to learning,” said Rojas, who rose from early ranks as an engineering co-op to becoming the highest ranked female engineer at EPWater. Rojas has held varied positions in management at EPWater, including Reclaimed Water Manager, Environmental Compliance Manager and her current position as Capital Improvement Manager.

Fuentes and Rojas are grateful for many opportunities and have relished each role at EPWater, including their current ones. They both concede they still have a lot to learn.

“As Wastewater Treatment Manager, I get to work with wastewater plants that are alive,” said Fuentes, adding she has enjoyed working with a variety of employees – from trades helper to engineers. “Seeing superintendents tweak their plants when troubleshooting and then seeing how the plant reacts in five to seven days has been interesting.”

“I have been part of changes in management, and I am very excited about the emphasis senior leaders are putting on safety; on knowledge, skills and abilities; as well as supporting employees to further their careers through education,” said Rojas, who has discovered through her many leadership roles that she is a numbers and people person. “It’s something that makes me proud to be part of this current management team.”

Both have similar advice for female engineers looking to make their mark at EPWater.

“Have fun,” Fuentes said. “If you are flexible and enjoy what you do, you will advance.”

“Life is full of surprises, and you never know what’s in store,” Rojas said. “I am taking opportunities as they come. You just have to be able to take chances.”