AWWA Articles

AWWA Member Spotlight – Tyler S. Converse, Canton, Ohio

Job title and employer: Superintendent, Canton Water Department

Tyler ConverseEducation: B.S., Biology/Microbiology, University of Akron; M.B.A., Walsh University; Ohio EPA, Class III Water Supply

Job duties: Manage a municipal drinking water system that includes three water treatment plants, 650 miles of water distribution system pipe, three storage water reservoirs and a utility billing department. The Water Department employs 105 drinking water professionals, has an annual budget of $18 million, and serves approximately 100,000 people in the greater Canton area. I have participated in labor/management contract negotiations on multiple contracts for two mayors. (Photos courtesy of Tyler Converse)  

What is an interesting project you’ve worked on? The Canton Water Department has completed many significant projects over the past decade, including a system-wide water meter replacement program and AMI installation; three water treatment plant renovations; a storage tank renovation; a leak detection program; a valve exercising and maintenance program; water line repairs, replacements and extensions; development of a comprehensive source water protection plan; and development of a system wide Geographical Information System. I find it interesting and rewarding to work with a team to successfully navigate the logistics and complexities of a project from conception to completion. This includes proper execution and completion, on-time and within budget. 

What is one of your proudest accomplishments? I’m proud of our Section’s work during my three-year term as Chair of the Water Utility Council (WUC) for the Ohio Section, which began in late 2014 on the heels of the Flint, Mich., lead crisis and the Toledo, Ohio, harmful algae bloom crisis. During this time the regulatory environment became hypersensitive, and Ohio’s Gov. Kasich was in the news as a presidential candidate.

The Ohio EPA began releasing potentially onerous regulatory initiatives in front of supporting science, drawing the Ohio WUC into the fray. The Ohio Section does not have a paid lobbyist, so as OWUC Chair, I found myself in the middle of fast-paced legislative and regulatory politics. A loose consortium of Ohio water professionals and lobbyists representing parties with similar interests was formed to respond to actions of the Governor’s Office, the Director of Ohio EPA and the state legislative body. We reviewed proposed regulatory language, wrote responses, and testified before state House and Senate committees. It was an intense period of “trial by fire diplomacy” and a tremendous learning experience. I thoroughly enjoyed representing Ohio’s public water systems at the state level. During and after my time as OWUC Chair, I received many compliments from utility colleagues, lobbyists we partnered with, and Ohio EPA leadership for our robust and professional representation of Ohio’s drinking water utilities. I believe this bolstered the reputation of Ohio AWWA as a representative of Ohio’s public water systems.  

Why did you join AWWA and how have you benefited from your membership? I joined AWWA to expand my professional development beyond the confines of my workplace. My participation has without question been the most important contributor to my learning and professional growth, including exposure to learning opportunities, peer interactions, and professional relationships I’ve developed over the last 24+ years. My suggestion to peers is often “Get your staff out and get them involved with their peers. It will be the single most valuable thing you can do for their professional growth.”

Tyler's wife, Lucy, and their sons Shane and JacobDescribe your family and personal interests:  My wife, Lucy, and I are high school sweethearts who have been married for more than 30 years. We have two fine sons, Jacob and Shane, one of whom played football and one baseball. We spent a lot of time with sports activities during their school days. When not working, I enjoy fishing, as it soothes my soul. I especially like introducing others to the world-class walleye fishery on Lake Erie. If you’re ever in town and want to go, drop me a line! Beyond that, I appreciate good food, good drink, and good conversation and laughter with family and friends. I also enjoy traveling and new experiences. (Pictured at left, Tyler’s wife, Lucy, and their sons Shane and Jacob)

What would people be surprised to know about you? My grandmother, Frances Converse, established that our family was on the roster of Ohio’s First Families, meaning we were settled in Ohio by 1820. Also, I was a member of the undefeated Division I state champion Canton McKinley Bulldog High School football team in 1981. Ah, the good ol’ days.