| AWWA Member Spotlight – Barry King, PE, PMP, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority
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AWWA Member Spotlight – Barry King, PE, PMP, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority

Barry KingPosition: Director of Engineering and Construction 

Education: B.S., Environmental Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI); M.S., Environmental Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)
How did you get involved in the water sector? I always excelled at math and science and loved problem-solving and all things environmental, especially as related to water. In fifth grade, I participated in a science competition in Rotterdam, N.Y., that was facilitated by RPI. Several engineering students helped support our solar energy project. The competition culminated in a final field trip to the RPI campus. This glimpse of a true, hands-on engineering program, combined with my interests, inspired me to pursue environmental engineering at RPI.  My experience is one reason I am a big advocate of current generations in the workforce (all disciplines) making themselves available to mentoring and inspiring future generations.

Describe your involvement with Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s (PWSA) Water Reliability Plan. This is the most memorable engineering project I’ve been involved with in 27 years of experience. I’m responsible for managing our team of internal and embedded design engineers, project managers, construction managers and construction inspectors on these and other active capital and operating projects.  The Water Reliability Plan involves a series of eight critical projects that will be implemented sequentially over five years to restore large components of our water pumping and distribution systems built at the turn of the 20th Century. These are genuinely once-in-a-generation projects. The final and largest project will replace the existing Water Treatment Plant Clearwell, a century-old water storage facility critical to operation of the entire system. We are investing nearly $470 million in the reliability plan to create a resilient and redundant water system, providing for an uninterrupted supply of safe, quality drinking water now and for future generations.

King family at Top GolfHow do you think passage of the U.S. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) will impact the PWSA and the water sector as a whole? $48.4 billion of the $1.2 trillion IIJA was appropriated to address water-related infrastructure, with $35.7 billion for drinking water and $12.7 billion for wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. These funds will be distributed through the Drinking Water and the Clean Water State Revolving Funds. The State of Pennsylvania anticipates receiving $1.4 billion from this appropriation over the next five years. PWSA will pursue this potential funding to support several of our most critical water and sewer projects by applying for capital improvement PENNVEST grants and low-interest PENNVEST loans from both state revolving funds. Between October 2018 and April 2022, we secured the award of more than $210 million in low-interest PENNVEST loans and grants, allowing us to replace aging water mains, remove lead service lines and rehabilitate sewer lines throughout Pittsburgh. These awards will save our ratepayers approximately $187 million to date in comparison to issuing a revenue bond. (Pictured right, King with family at Top Golf)

King with kids at Pittsburgh ZooWhat motivates you as an environmental engineer? I’m drawn to opportunities for positive change and love taking on challenges that others deem unsurmountable or impossible. Anyone who works with me eventually realizes that I genuinely love taking on an opportunity -- another way of saying “challenge” -- and seeing it through to completion. Over time, I’ve learned to enjoy the process and trip as much as the destination. (Pictured left, King with kids at the Pittsburgh Zoo.)

How have you benefited from being an AWWA member? I have valued participating in and utilizing software and guidance that AWWA has developed for benchmarking and water auditing. This has given me a far better technical and quantifiable understanding of how my organization stands in comparison to others in this field, driving the attention and focus of capital in the areas that are most critical. Access to AWWA’s incredible training resources goes way beyond fulfilling professional continuing education requirements and provides up-to-date knowledge, technical guidance, regulatory insights, and attention to emerging and current issues. Networking capabilities at the local and regional levels have been critical for my career growth and path-setting.

Barry at daughter's fencing contestPlease describe your family and/or hobbies and interests. My wife, Heather, and I have been married for 20 years. She is a school psychologist. We have two children, Emily, 13, and Ethan, 9. Emily is an avid fencer and Ethan enjoys playing soccer. We all enjoy outdoor activities. For the first time in too many years, we’ve started cross-country skiing again. As the kids are getting older, we are spending more time with their sports, practicing and spectating. I also like undertaking home improvement and re-landscaping projects. (Pictured right, King with daughter at a fencing event.)

What is something that people would be surprised to know about you? I’ve always had an appreciation for adrenaline-increasing activities and have been known to take on an experience without much prompting. A good example was combining my first plane ride with my first skydive, jumping at 14,000 feet over the Finger Lakes in New York.