| AWWA Member Spotlight -- David G. Miller, Manchester, N.H.
AWWA Articles

AWWA Member Spotlight -- David G. Miller, Manchester, N.H.

Job title and employer: Deputy Director, Water Supply, Manchester Water Works

David MillerEducation: B.S., Civil Engineering, and B.A., Psychology, University of New Hampshire; U.S. Air Force Veteran

Job duties: Manage daily water supply division operations, including fiscal and budgetary issues, construction projects, organization structure, operational and maintenance activities, and waterworks emergencies.

How and why did you get involved in the water sector? I’ve always been fascinated with water and went back to college to study civil engineering after working a few years in a completely unrelated field. Classes related to water were my favorites, including fluid dynamics, water treatment, wastewater treatment, design of water transmission systems, and water chemistry. I grew up in the Boston suburbs and spent summers with my family at our Sebago Lake cottage in Maine. I loved being in and on the water – swimming, fishing, water skiing, boating, etc. 

I was amazed and a bit shocked at how the lake level dropped several feet throughout the summer. I learned that Sebago Lake was the water supply for the city of Portland and local industry, including a paper mill that used a lot of water. This early experience with the water cycle contributed to my interest in water. I was fascinated by the science of how watersheds are delineated and uniquely contribute to water quality, as well as environmental challenges to water supply, water treatment and distribution, and much more. Establishing a career in the water sector felt right to me and I’m very thankful I followed my instincts. 

What led to your focus on drinking water supply operations? After graduation, I got an entry-level civil engineering position with a Boston-area consulting firm. I was on the design team of a small (1MGD) water treatment facility in Lincoln, N.H. I got a lot of experience completing tasks leading to the production and advertising of contract documents for public bidding. I also coordinated with other specialized consultants that our company didn’t have in-house at the time (architectural, structural, electrical, plumbing/HVAC, instrumentation). Once the project was awarded to a general contractor, I took on contract administration duties. I enjoyed a variety of civil/environmental engineering projects as a consultant. Then I switched to a utility engineering and management position at the largest treatment facility in New Hampshire. I thrive on the hands-on experience of managing treatment operations and interacting with dedicated and passionate drinking water professionals locally, regionally and nationally. 

Manchester Water Works staffWhat is a challenge you’re focused on right now? Lake Massabesic has been the sole source of drinking water supply in Manchester since 1874 and we’ve known for decades that an additional source will be needed to supply a growing population. We are about to begin construction of a new facility to treat water from the Merrimack River that bisects the city of Manchester. It will match the high quality produced at the Lake Massabesic plant and be blended into our distribution system. This will provide an additional 7.2 MGD and take the strain off our Lake Massabesic facility currently operating at about 90% of its safe yield. The challenge is to manage our existing facility at a continuously optimized level while bringing on the new plant with the same goal. We’re fortunate to have an extremely talented staff (pictured right) who take ownership and constantly look for ways to improve.

How have you been impacted by your work with the Partnership for Safe Water? It’s been very gratifying to join the Partnership as a charter member utility, use the tools and guidance to collect baseline and annual operational data, go through the self-assessment process to identify performance-limiting factors, develop and implement action plans to mitigate or eliminate these deficiencies, and see measurable results. This work has had a significant impact on my career and success as a water supply engineer and plant manager. Taking the next step to optimize treatment and receive the Partnership’s Phase IV Excellence in Water Treatment recognition has been equally gratifying and a source of pride for Manchester Water Works. As long-tenured operators retire and new operators are brought on, the Partnership “excellence” philosophy is passed down as the best way to ensure that the highest quality of water is delivered to our customers every day. (Read his article about Partnership principles in the January/February 2021 issue of Opflow)

How have you benefited from being involved with AWWA and the New England Section? AWWA, and particularly NEWWA, are my second family, and I’ll bet a lot of you reading this know exactly what I’m talking about! I have so many great contacts and have made so many friendships over the course of my career through involvement on committees, at conferences, in meetings, project presentations, professional development/training, and active association with the Partnership for Safe Water. I was honored to be elected to the NEWWA Board of Directors and serve as section president in 2018-2019. Having access to such a large and diverse pool of water professionals allows me to be secure knowing I can get feedback or answers to just about any water-related issue or question.

David Miller and wife, CarolDescribe your family and personal interests: My wife, Carol (pictured left with David), and I were married in 1987 and have raised three wonderful kids who are now in their 20s and establishing their own careers. Carol is a fifth-grade teacher in our hometown of East Kingston, N.H. Our oldest daughter and her husband blessed us with a grandson and granddaughter, and we visit them often. We also have two Boxers, Rosey & Riley, to keep us company now that we’re empty-nesters. I enjoy reading, golf, skiing, woodworking, home improvement projects, athletic training, hiking and hunting.

What would surprise people to know about you? I went back to college to study civil engineering at the age of 30. Before then, I worked in a private, in-patient psychiatric hospital as a counselor treating primarily drug and alcohol abuse patients and others dealing with a variety of psychological disorders. I use these skills every day!
(Photos courtesy of David Miller)