Shar Maglione Retires After 28 Years at NSD

December  28, 2012

Sharleen Maglione retired from the Napa Sanitation District this week, after 28 dedicated years. Not one to find a comfortable niche and then stay there, Sharleen started at the District as a secretary/clerk in the administrative office and worked her way to Treatment Plant Manager, with several other positions in between. Her intention was to work at the District while completing an accounting degree at night, but wastewater treatment captured her imagination and she never looked back.

“Shar’s depth and length of experience in wastewater treatment has been an invaluable asset to the District,” confirms Tim Healy, General Manager. “Her institutional knowledge and informed leadership will be greatly missed.” 

When Shar started at the District in 1984, the wastewater treatment plant was located on Imola Avenue, near the base of the present day Maxwell Bridge. Shar worked in the administrative office initially, but the plant manager at the time quickly recognized her potential and encouraged her to apply for a position in the water quality laboratory.

After only a year as a lab technician, a position opened in treatment plant operations. Even though it was a step down in pay, Shar took it. “I could see more potential for advancement in the treatment side of the operation,” explains Shar. “I had an interest in biology and wanted to learn more about the biological treatment processes.”

After learning the ropes and working on various aspects of plant operation for eight years, Shar was promoted to plant manager in 1999.  She was the only woman on the plant operations staff when she arrived, and was a rare breed when she was promoted to the top position. “There were only five other woman managing wastewater treatment plants in California when I started,” Shar points out.

Working at and running a wastewater treatment plant is a physically demanding job that sometimes requires weekend or late night work. These traits can add stress to family life, but Shar credits her husband Bob for the support that allowed her to press forward with her career while he took on additional responsibilities with their children.

What are the biggest changes she’s seen during her 28 years at the District? “The advance in technology, hands down,” confirms Shar. Although the plants treatment capacity stayed the same over her tenure, treatment processes became more advanced and complex as the District added the ability to produce recycled water and reclaim biosolids.

Along with increasing complexity in the treatment process came increased challenges. Shar’s creativity in solving complicated treatment system problems became well known at the District. One particularly vexing problem was solved late at night at a conference in Orlando, FL, when Shar met with a consultant and sketched her proposed solution on a dinner napkin. “And yes, I still have that napkin!” laughs Shar.

Over her years at the District, Shar has been responsible for the treatment of over 45 billion gallons of wastewater and 10 billion gallons of recycled water. She has seen the District thought changes in technology and management and met the challenges of increasing regulation, all the while protecting public health and water quality in Napa. “Looking back, I don’t think there’s any other line of work that would have provided me with the same level of challenge and satisfaction,” declares Shar.

Shar’s plans for retirement are as ambitious as her career has been. She plans to return to school to finish her Master’s degree, and then press onward for a PhD. She has applied for and received a grant to support her studies, examining the potential role for algae in wastewater treatment. She also plans to fit in more time with her husband and grandchildren, and will also be available to lend her expertise to the District when needed.

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