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CSD general manager named Wastewater Operator of the Year

Samantha P. Hawthorne
Staff Writer

Although the word “service” carries many different meanings, all of the definitions speak to the work wastewater operator Jesse Lawson has strived for in his life.

Through “acts of helpful activity,” “providing accommodation and activities to the public” and “supplying utilities required by the public,” Lawson, the general manager of Indian Valley Community Services District, earned the right to be called this year’s California Rural Water Association’s Wastewater Operator of the Year.

Lawson was recognized as such during an award ceremony held in South Lake Tahoe on April 29.

Board chairman Brad Smith, who presented the award to Lawson during the ceremony, said Lawson’s dedication and technical expertise have brought both the Greenville and Taylorsville wastewater systems into full compliance with state regulations.

Lawson also introduced innovations to the district’s wastewater and water systems that have since saved money and resources, said Smith.

“We recognized his technical skills and knew he had the ability to solve problems,” said Smith. “Lawson has brought a welcome stability to the district in both operations and management.”

Lawson said the statewide recognition is particularly rewarding because it comes at a time when the district is returning to fiscal health after a series of challenges. He thanked the staff for their dedication to the successful operation of an aging infrastructure and the many long days and months — “now years” — of hard work.

Lawson also thanked the community for its support and the many letters of recommendation that contributed to his recognition. “Jesse received more letters of support from more people in the whole history of the award,” said CRWA Executive Director Dan DeMoss.

Lawson was asked what contributed to his success, to which he responded “Service. I believe it is important to give back to my community. You can contribute or your can complain, I choose to contribute … I want to raise my sons here and I want this to be a place they are proud to call home.”

CRWA circuit rider Angela Wendele said, “After having had the privilege of working with him this past year, and seeing the progress he has made both personally and professionally, as well as the immense improvements IVCSD has experienced under his leadership, I can honestly say there is none more deserving of this award than Jesse Lawson.”

In closing Lawson assured district residents, “We face a long road ahead but the future is full of promise.”

History of service

Lawson has a long history of service. Over the years he has played many volunteer rolls within the community, including establishing a training program to help one high school student per year qualify to become a certified water operator.

In his younger years, Lawson earned 39 Army commendations during his eight years of service as a UH-60 Blackhawk crew chief. The commendations acknowledged him for exemplary service to not only his country, but also his family in arms. Prior to beginning a full-time career with the district in February 2007, he worked as a volunteer with IVCSD.

As soon as he was hired as an employee of the district he took his future by the reigns and enrolled himself in Sacramento State University. Within less than a year he earned several occupational certifications including those for T-2 water treatment operator, D-2 distribution operator, Grade 1 sewer operator and backflow assembly tester.

His dedication and hard work, coupled with his industry certifications, helped him climb the ladder of success and in 2008 he was promoted from laborer to chief operator of the IVCSD water treatment and distribution systems.

In December 2012 he was hired as the district’s interim general manager and by May 2013 the board voted to make the position permanent.

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