Jessica Ahlstrom is the Water Conservation Program Manager for the City of Bozeman. Her work focuses on demand management and drought contingency planning, which includes community outreach and engagement and the development of regulatory measures to ensure that Bozeman has a reliable water supply for the future. She graduated from Montana State University with a B.S. in land rehabilitation. She went on to work at the University of Arizona's Water Resources Research Center. She earned a graduate certificate in Connecting Environmental Science and Decision-making. She studied social and institutional barriers to data-driven decision-making, focusing on stakeholder involvement in environmental policy decisions.
Chris Allen obtained his Ph.D. in environmental engineering from Montana State University (MSU), investigating nitrogen transformations and removal in treatment wetlands. Since 2009 he has been researching and working on wetland treatment systems that provide both primary and secondary treatment for wastewater and natural systems designed for nitrate abatement. He is a researcher, instructor and faculty advisor for the MSU chapter of Engineers Without Borders. He is a senior scientist with the WGM Group.
Collette Anderson is a registered professional engineer with 18 years of engineering experience in municipal water and wastewater infrastructure and has worked with numerous Montana communities on such projects. Collette is a project manager at Great West Engineering, where she has worked for the past 14 years. Collette manages the Great West Engineering Helena Municipal Group. In addition to managing the engineers in the Helena Municipal Group, her responsibilities range from preparing preliminary engineering reports, grant writing, and funding applications to design project management and construction management. Collette is a graduate of Montana Tech with a bachelor’s degree in general engineering with a civil option and a minor in technical communications. She is a member of the Montana Section of AWWA and is the Past Chair of the MSAWWA board.
Pete Boettcher and Josh Viall lead MDEQ's wastewater technical assistance program. They are responsible for field operations support and will provide operators with training to prepare for the successful completion of the certification exam.
John Donahue is the recently retired CEO of the North Park Public Water District in Machesney Park, Illinois. He began his career as a small system operator and still holds operator certifications in water and wastewater treatment in Illinois. John’s career has spanned over 40 years, during which he was actively involved in AWWA at the section and association level in many capacities, including the president of AWWA in 2014. Although he is retired, John remains active in the water industry as legislative chair of the AWWA Water Utility Council and chair of the ISAWWA WUC. In addition, John has twice testified before the U.S. Congress on drinking water issues.
Kim Dyches has over 35 years of water industry-related experience. He is a certified Level 4 water distribution and treatment operator. Kim also served a four-year apprenticeship as a welder and served on the OpFlow Advisory Board. He was a water distribution system coordinator, instrumentation technician, general maintenance technician and mechanical maintenance supervisor at Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District. Kim is also an adjunct faculty member at Utah Valley University, teaching water treatment, water hydrology, pumps and treatment plant maintenance courses. He was the shop manager for Great Western Valves and Automation. For the last 20 years of his career, Kim was an environmental scientist and field services manager for the Utah Division of Drinking Water, where he managed four programs for the state.
Craig Erickson is a certified grant writer with significant experience helping local governments throughout Montana and Idaho fund infrastructure projects. Craig has 24 years of planning, facilitation, grant administration, and grant writing experience. Craig has facilitated the funding and administration of hundreds of projects throughout Montana, Idaho, and Oregon. Craig has helped communities fund water, wastewater, stormwater, solid waste, senior center, nursing home renovation, library, sidewalk, trail, landscaping, and disaster mitigation projects. Craig is a graduate of the Broadcast Communications Program at Brown College in Minneapolis. He resides in Helena.
Ross Hanson is the I&C regional manager for Montana at AE2S, where he has worked for the past 14 years. His experience includes instrumentation and controls and project management. He is also a licensed MT water and wastewater operator.
Kyla Jacobsen is the recently retired utility director for Elgin, Illinois. She has been in the water industry for over 35 years. She started as a bench chemist in the water quality laboratory, worked as the chief chemist in charge of water quality and eventually became the utility director in charge of drinking water, sewer collection and conveyance and stormwater. Kyla fulfilled many roles during her career at the utility and as a volunteer for the American Water Works Association (AWWA). She served as the chair of the Illinois section of AWWA, as a director on the board for the AWWA in Denver and has chaired many committees at the state level (outreach, water utility council, diversity and inclusion) as well as committees at the national level. In addition, she has served as a trainer for the Illinois section of AWWA for water operators for over 15 years. Kyla received her bachelor’s in chemistry from Southern Illinois University, a master’s in biochemistry from Northern Illinois University, and a master’s in Environmental Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology.
Nilaksh Kothari is the CEO of Preferred Consulting, LLC, which provides leadership, management and technical services for utilities. Nilaksh has served as CEO and general manager of Manitowoc Public Utilities (MPU) and managing director of Great Lakes Utilities (GLU) since August 2000 and has more than 35 years of leadership experience in the electric and water sector. MPU is Wisconsin's largest municipally owned electric utility and the sixth-largest water utility. Nilaksh reported to a seven-member board of directors (commission members). GLU is Wisconsin's second-largest municipal electric company, focusing on providing reliable and low-cost power to its 12-member communities. Nilaksh is the past president of the American Water Works Association (2007 to 2008). He holds a master’s degree in sanitary engineering from South Dakota State University in Brooking. He has served on boards for the American Public Power Association and the Water Research Foundation and currently serves on AWWA’s International Council. Nilaksh is a registered professional engineer and a certified operator in Wisconsin.
Michael Kropp has an industrial engineering degree, and has worked for an engineering firm, construction firm and has been self-employed. For the last 22 years, he has worked for the Montana DEQ Public Water Supply Bureau. He primarily performed sanitary surveys, technical assistance visits, and level 2 assessments from the Kalispell office until beginning his new duties as the Capacity Development Coordinator and Technical Assistance Specialist for Montana DEQ Public Water Supply Bureau. Mike firmly believes that the bureau should work to help water systems optimize their operations and not just regulate without insight.
Rika Lashley is an environmental engineer who works in Morrison-Maierle’s Helena office. Her experience includes the planning, design and construction of water and wastewater conveyance and treatment systems. She specialized in wastewater process design for biological nutrient removal and lagoon systems. In addition, Rika has extensive experience with MPDES permitting, including data requirements, calculation of reasonable potential and permit limits. She is actively involved in recent efforts of the Nutrient Work Group, which is working with DEQ in revamping effluent permitting for nutrients. Rika is also well-versed in federal 40 CFR 503 regulations for land application and other disposal methods for biosolids.
Ted D. Meckes, P.E. has served the water industry for 34 years. He started his career fresh out of college as an engineer for City Water, Light and Power (CWLP) in Springfield, Illinois. He served as the Superintendent of Water Treatment for CWLP until November of 2012, when he became CWLP’s Water Division Manager. He retired in August 2020. Ted graduated with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ted has been a member of the American Water Works Association (ISAWWA) since 1986. He is a past chair of ISAWWA, a registered professional engineer and a Class A water operator in Illinois. Ted received the 2010 Illinois Public Water Supply Operators Association (IPWSOA) Surface Water Operator of the Year Award, the 2018 Water Professional of the Year for the ISAWWA and the George Fuller Award from the ISAWWA in 2019.
Greg Montgomery has been with MDEQ for four years and is the Lead in School Drinking Water Rule Manager. He was also previously the Lead and Copper Rule Manager. Before that, he worked for environmental consulting firms for 19 years and specialized in groundwater and soil remediation. He worked on projects across the Northwest, Northeast, Montana, Hawaii, and Alaska.
Kevin Morley is the Manager of Federal Relations for the American Water Works Association (AWWA). He works closely with multiple organizations to advance the security and preparedness of the water sector. This includes supporting the development of several ANSI/AWWA standards that represent minimum best practices for water sector risk and resilience management, including cybersecurity guidance. He is a leading expert on §2013 of America's Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018 and multiple resources enabling water systems to advance their security and preparedness for all hazards. Dr. Morley is a member of the President's National Infrastructure Advisory Council. He earned his Ph.D. at George Mason University for research on water sector resilience and developing the Utility Resilience Index (URI). He holds a M.S. from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry and a B.A. from Syracuse University.
Carol Reifschneider, a retired professor in environmental health technology, earned her Ph.D. in environmental health science at the University of Kansas and spent her career at Montana State University-Northern, where she taught microbiology, water treatment, wastewater treatment, general chemistry, and general biology, eventually earning full professorship. In addition to her teaching, Dr. Reifschneider served as chair of the College of Education, Arts & Sciences and Nursing from 2005-2010, co-chair from 2021-2022, and interim dean of the College of Education, Arts & Sciences and Nursing from 2011-2012 and 2014-2018. She also served 12 years on the Water and Wastewater Operator’s Advisory Council.
Josh Seekins is the Surface Water Treatment Rule Manager for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. He is currently the co-lead for AWOP (Area Wide Optimization Program) in Montana. Josh has over 13 years of experience in surface water and wastewater treatment and over 15 years of analytical experience. He completed his undergraduate studies at Dickinson State University in Dickinson, North Dakota.
James Sletten is an I&C technician at AE2S with a decade of control system experience in water and wastewater. He specializes in integrating valves, pumps and sensors with PLCs and SCADA systems to control various water and wastewater processes.
Mike Tate is a licensed engineer who worked in various capacities at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) for over 30 years, retiring in 2015 as the director of KDHE’s Bureau of Water. He started a second career with EPA’s Region 7 Office after retirement. He enjoyed working across multiple water programs – drinking water, wastewater, nonpoint source, etc. Mike spent nearly six years with EPA before retiring at the beginning of 2022. Mike was active in the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA) for over 15 years, having served as the co-chair of the Nutrients Policy Committee, helped initiate the Nutrient Working Group with ACWA and EPA, and represented ACWA in numerous workgroups and taskforces dealing with water quality issues including three National Academy of Science panels and multiple workgroups sponsored by EPA, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Johnson Foundation, and others. He is a member of the Water Environment Federation and the American Water Works Association and a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a B.S. in civil engineering and an M.S. in bioenvironmental engineering.
Mike Uthe is the current Northwest area manager for Mueller's Water Management Solutions group. He has spent the last seven years working in municipal water as a technical resource for utilities and engineers. His expertise includes asset management, control valves, and non-revenue water. He has a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering from Montana Tech and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Montana State University.
Kurt Vause is co-founder of StreamlineAM, LLC, an Alaskan and Montana-based consulting service dedicated to utility management, asset management and engineering for the water sector. From 1998 - 2017, he was engineering division director of Anchorage Water Wastewater Utility (AWWU), then special projects director for strategic utility initiatives. During his tenure at AWWU, he was responsible for AWWU’s capital construction program, its Grants and Loans section, and the Strategic Asset Services and Planning sections of the utility. Kurt chaired the American Water Works Association (AWWA) Asset Management Committee from Fall 2016 to July 2020 and served as chair of AWWA’s Water Utility Council from 2016 to 2019. He also served on the 2012 International Water Association (IWA) - Water Supply Association of Australia (WSAA) Asset Management Best Practices Benchmarking Project Steering Committee. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil and environmental engineering and a master’s degree in civil engineering.
Josh Viall and Pete Boettcher lead MDEQ's wastewater technical assistance program. They are responsible for field operations support and will provide operators with training to prepare for the successful completion of the certification exam.
Grant Weaver is a licensed wastewater operator and professional engineer. For the last 22 years, he has taught wastewater nutrient optimization classes for the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and applied his expertise to treatment facilities statewide.
Dave Weihrauch is the principal of H2O Compliance Strategies, LLC and has been certified as an Ohio EPA Class II Water Distribution System Operator, Ohio Class IV Water Treatment Plant Operator, and Arkansas Class IV Water Treatment Plant Operator. He has 37 years of experience in the municipal service industry, including construction, operation and maintenance of stormwater, wastewater collection, and water distribution systems. He retired as the Water Treatment Plant Manager for the City of Oxford, Ohio, where he served for 26 years. H2O Compliance Strategies, LLC is primarily involved in asset management program development for community water systems. The company is currently engaged in developing and implementing a comprehensive enterprise asset management program for Beaver Water District, serving one of seven Arkansas residents with potable water. H2O Compliance Strategies, LLC has previously supported Parsons Corporation as a team member in developing regulatory compliance strategies within a water utility asset evaluation report for the Ohio Department of Transportation. In addition, he has held many volunteer positions with the Ohio Section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), Chairman of the AWWA Ohio Section Water Utility Council and Legislative Chairman of the AWWA Water Utility Council. David is the recipient of the Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana Regional Council of Governments “In Motion” Award, Ohio Section AWWA Operator Meritorious Award and the 2015 AWWA Volunteer of the Year Award.
Craig Woolard is a professor and head of the Department of Civil Engineering at Montana State University and the Montana Water and Wastewater Operators Initiative director. Before returning to MSU, Craig served as the director of public works for the City of Bozeman. Craig has served as the treatment operations director and then general manager of the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility in Anchorage, Alaska. Craig has been active in professional associations throughout his career and served as the national president for the American Water Works Association in 2008. Craig grew up in Kalispell, Montana, and earned a bachelor’s in civil engineering from Montana State University and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Notre Dame. He is a registered professional engineer in Alaska and Montana.