Interview with Haley Falconer
Haley Falconer, EIT
Water/Wastewater Project Engineer, HDR
24 years old
Why do you “work for water?” What do you love about the job?
I started in water because it was something that I believed in and it was a career path where I felt I could make a difference. Now, I enjoy the experience I am getting working on reclaimed water projects. I think it’s important to use our limited water resources in the best way possible. I like getting to help with the project planning and then, hopefully, see that project through to completion.
Tell us about how your educational path that led you to this career.
I went for an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering at North Dakota State University because I always enjoyed math and science and my dad is a civil engineer, so I knew a little bit about the career. In my junior year, I was introduced to environmental engineering and a light bulb went off—I could use the skills I was good at and apply them positively to something I enjoy. I took all the technical electives I could related to water and wastewater and then went on to get a Masters in environmental engineering at Washington State.
What does a typical day on the job look like?
Right now, I do mostly project planning, which includes gathering and analyzing all the information a city would need to develop and implement a sustainable reclaimed water project or program. For example, we have to understand projections for population growth and water distribution. What are the water demands? Is the water needed for irrigation, industrial, construction purposes? Every community’s needs are different, and it’s nice to work on a variety of projects that interest me.
What skills and training transferred well into your career?
It was really a combination of my education and WEF experience, which is the best thing to happen to my career. I worked on some great WEF committee projects and got to see the people and technology behind clean water. And the communications experience I gained in working with broadly-based audiences plays a big role in how I work and what I do now.
What is important about the work you do today?
As population and the associated water use grows, it becomes even more important to use our water resources wisely. Cities need to be prepared for the future, and they rely on us for planning to address the challenges ahead. I feel lucky to be doing something I enjoy and which makes a positive impact.
What are some of the more tangible benefits of working in water? Job stability is definitely a benefit to working for water. We’re needed to develop and protect clean, sustainable water resources and the public health, and that’s not going to go away.
Why should others consider working in the water sector?
There are going to be lots of opportunity in the next 5 or 10 years due to a heavy hit of retirements. You can do something that really helps make the world a better place. There is also an incredible variety of “job descriptions” or career paths available in the water sector – scientists, engineers, planners. If you have an interest in water, there is likely a career choice that is a good fit for you!