Rural Water - Quarter 2, 2018 - 37
A Day in the Life of a
Dale Barrie, Circuit Rider West, Iowa Rural Water Association
What was your first job?
I grew up on a farm in Iowa doing
chores and working for neighbors baling
hay and walking beans. My first "paying"
job was working for a local nursery doing
landscaping. I started in the water and
wastewater industry by taking a job with
my hometown during the winter while
being laid off from working construction.
My "just for the winter" job has turned
into a 43-year career.
What does your typical day
as a Circuit Rider entail?
One of the real joys of this job is that
there is no typical day. You may be helping
a new system specialist just starting out,
a system dealing with a compliance issue,
looking for a leaking water main, working
with someone preparing for an exam or
helping a city clerk with rates. Every day
brings a new set of challenges and new
folks to work with.
What's your favorite thing
about being a Circuit Rider?
One of my favorite things is working
with system operations specialists who
are new to the industry and learning the
basic tasks they face each day, from
permit requirements, sampling/testing to
system maintenance. There is something
very gratifying when you are able to help
someone who has been "handed the
keys" to a system get an understanding
of the importance of what they have
What's the most challenging
job you've ever undertaken
as a Circuit Rider?
The most memorable challenge was
assisting a community following the total
destruction of a major portion of the city by
a F4 tornado. Water loss was an issue due
to service lines running in the destroyed
and damaged houses and business, so
one of the jobs that needed to be done
was to locate and shut off the curb stop
valves to the properties. Initially we were
given a list of addresses to shut off, which
was difficult (impossible) since all traces
of street signs and address numbers were
gone. Once that problem was addressed,
the building debris started to be piled on
the curb to be removed, which was right
on top of the valves needing to be shut off.
How do you think rural
water systems could
operate more effectively?
Most systems could benefit by learning
better communication, from the top down
and back up there a lot of issues which
could be alleviated or eliminated by having
the lines of communication open. Whether
it's from the manager to the lowest level
staff, decision makers and state regulator,
the places that do the best and have the
least amount of problems and issues are
the ones that talk to each other and have
respect for everyone's opinion.
What's the best advice
you could give to rural
Use the tools available to you.
Systems don't operate in a vacuum, and
there is no problem you face that another
system or person has not already gone
through. Don't be afraid to ask for help,
whether it's other system specialists,
technical assistance providers, state
associations, regional and state regulatory
personnel-there are a lot of people
willing to give you a hand.
What advice would you
give to a young person
who wants to embark on a
While it's a hard and sometime
unappreciated job, it can be one of the
most interesting and satisfying careers
you can have. It's one where you literally
never stop learning and there is always
a new problem and solution just around
the corner. ●