AWWA Articles

AWWA Member Spotlight -- Hélène Baribeau, Ph.D., P.E., San Diego, Calif.

Job title and employer: Distribution System Water Quality Leader, Brown and Caldwell (BC)

Educational background: B.S. degree, Civil Engineering, École Polytechnique Montreal, Québec, Canada; M.S. degree and Ph.D., Civil Engineering-Environment, École Helene BaribeauPolytechnique Montreal (Photos courtesy of Baribeau)

Job duties: I provide distribution system water quality technical support for drinking water and potable reuse projects. This includes evaluating the effects of treatment strategies on distribution system water quality and the impact of system engineering and design on water quality; addressing regulatory compliance requirements; contributing to master planning; supporting the development and implementation of distribution system water quality monitoring programs; and contributing to BC’s Treatability Laboratory.

How did you get involved with the water industry? I worked with a research group from École Polytechnique Montreal and the City of Laval in Québec, Canada, as an undergraduate summer intern through the completion of my Ph.D. studies. The project was based at Laval’s Ste. Rose Water Treatment Plant and focused on the use of biological filtration in cold water. Researchers included Prof. Raymond Desjardins and Dr. Michèle Prévost. I contributed to data and lab analyses, including physical-chemical tests, and chlorine residual and chlorine demand analyses.

What led to your focus on drinking water quality? My original career plan was to focus on wastewater, but my research work and interactions with water treatment operators and staff gave me the opportunity to discover drinking water and see first-hand the purpose of our work. The vision, leadership and feeling of unlimited possibilities provided by Prof. Desjardins and Dr. Prévost, my research advisors, as well as the quality and dynamism of the research group, contributed to my interest in the field.
 
What water quality challenge are you most focused on right now? Many of my projects pertain to corrosion and metal release in distribution systems, often resulting from blending water from different sources or introducing a new water source in an existing distribution system. This is something we see more in areas affected by recurring droughts. With the recent publication of the revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule, this topic has truly become the focus of my work.
 
How have you benefited from your AWWA membership? I joined AWWA in 1992 and presented at ACE94 in New York. I still remember the excitement of discussing my findings with established researchers like Stuart Krasner, Howard Weinberg, Scott Summers and many others. The opportunity to mingle with like-minded water professionals and to learn from the high-level presentations at AWWA conferences and through AWWA publications is immeasurable.
 
Outside interests: I started riding motorcycles in 1997 after moving to California. I was part of the original Water Buffalos that started Ride with Purpose, a charity that raises Water buffalosfunds for water-related causes like Water For People through donations to water professionals (Water Buffalos) riding their motorcycles to ACE and other water-related conferences. In addition, I am a hang-glider pilot, a paraglider pilot and a scuba diver. (Pictured front from left, Sharon Camp, Chris Sheridan, Judy Grycko; 2nd row, Louann Thomas, Hélène; 3rd row, Gene Camp, Bill Persich, Mark Stratton, Ken Howe, Harold Thomas, Leon Kerr)

What is something that people would be surprised to know about you? I started playing classical music when I was four years old, so I learned to read music before reading words! My main instrument is piano, and I also play the pipe organ, French horn, flute and classical guitar.

 


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