Portrait of Kristine Sommers, NEBC member profile November 2019

November, 2019 – What drew you to working in the environmental sector? I grew up on the water wakeboarding and have so many memories on the lake that it’s been a passion of mine for some time.  That’s what drew me to the environmental sector. As I moved to Washington and began to understand the industry, I learned how passionate the locals were about the environment – it didn’t take me long to realize that environmental work was what I wanted to do.  To be honest – I didn’t think I would love working in the water treatment industry so much, and I haven’t had any regrets thus far!

What is your educational background? Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from the University of California, Santa Barbara. I’m also a Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC) and Qualified Industrial Stormwater Practitioner (QISP). For the past two years I’ve also served as President of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) chapter of the International Erosion Control Association (IECA).

In one word, describe yourself. Driven.

What’s one interesting fact about you that most people don’t know? I play professional rugby. My main hobby (which is more than a hobby) is rugby. If it was possible – I would commit 100% of my time toward it. I currently compete with the USA Women’s Rugby Team and play for a local team in Seattle. Rugby takes up a lot of my time outside of work, and I’m okay with it.

Kristine Sommers Playing RugbyHow do you balance your career and family? If you were to ask my fiancé, he would tell you I balance my work and rugby and he’s on the sidelines being my best supporter. I try my best to balance not one, but two (2) full time jobs: being a Business Development Manager and Rugby Player. Most of my balancing efforts comes with lots of travel, while also trying to be home with my fiancé and puppy.  Ideally – when I’m home, I’m home.  I try to stay present and leave work at work.

KRISTINE ON BUSINESS

What drew you to your company originally?  In all transparency – I found Clear Water Services on Craigslist in 2012. I came in as a treatment technician, working in the field and operating water treatment systems for the construction industry. Since then, I have changed roles and our company has had some definite growth.

Has your company changed significantly since you started working there? Our industrial program has expanded immensely from 2010. We now have a line of permanent industrial treatment system installations all along the west coast. We’re focused on growth and industry development in different states as well. We’ve recently added another location in Rodeo, CA, as well as expanded internationally with projects in Canada. The company itself has seen lots of progression in the backend engineering and design as well. Our manufacturing capabilities have expanded, and we’ve developed smarter, scalable systems as well as streamlined our back-end data management programs.

What are three words to describe your company? Professional. Innovative. Culture.

What is Your favorite part about working for your company? The ability to work in so many different parts of the company at once. It’s rare for one of us to only be a project manager and not have influence in the field and/or lab. You’re always wearing so many hats and working on different projects in different industries. It keeps you on your toes and keeps the day-to-day interesting.

What has been your favorite project at your company? There have been a few favorites of mine – but my favorite would be a project in Nanaimo, Canada that was purely design-build for a new permit and new industry standards. It was our first project outside of the United States that involved treatment of wood waste and wood leachate at a log yard facility. The client was really involved in the design and implementation of the treatment system, and the client had a lot of passion and pride behind the installation and optimization of the system.

How has your company helped you in your career development? Clear Water has helped me excel my career in so many ways. They’ve been completely supportive not only in my professional career, but in my athletic career. There are not many companies that would allow me to work completely remote from another country to support my athletic passion. I am forever thankful for the opportunities Clear Water has supported me on.

KRISTINE ON THE INDUSTRY

What has your involvement been with NEBC? The past 3-4 years I have been assisting with the planning committee on both Washington and Oregon NEBC events. It’s really expanded my network and understanding of different parts of the environmental industry.

What advice do you have for prospective candidates who want to work at your company or in the industry? Wear different hats until you decide what you want to do with your career. There are so many avenues in the ‘environmental science’ and more entry level roles are opening every day for different positions that are developing based on industry regulations and industry need. It’s ever evolving.  Also, find networking activities that are in your career pathway to expand your network.

What is on your wish list for the next 5 years for your industry? Currently most of my work extends from Washington to California, the most environmentally forward states in North America when it comes to water quality and water regulation. In the next 5 years, I hope these states can continue to drive the standard. As a water treatment vendor, it keeps us on our toes and keeps us evolving to meet more strict water quality benchmarks and limits.

As a part of the industry what sort of trends do you see? The water treatment industry is expanding so quickly. There is more competition now than there was 5 years ago. I think water treatment will start to become more of a standardized BMP and not so much of an emergency BMP, especially with the change in weather and increase in high-intensity rain events.