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Environmental division head feels she 'can make a difference'

Julie Pippel has achieved aim to be part of providing a good environment for future generations

Julie Pippel has achieved aim to be part of providing a good environment for future generations

November 19, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

WILLIAMSPORT -- All it took for Julie Pippel to set her sights on an environmental career was an ecology camp she attended when she was a student at Williamsport High School.

Now the director of the Washington County Division of Environmental Management, Pippel said she has achieved her aim to be a part of providing a good environment for future generations.

"In this job, I can make a difference in the water quality in Washington County," Pippel said from her office on Elliott Parkway near Williamsport.

Born in Washington, D.C., Pippel and her family moved to Washington County when she was in the fourth grade.

After graduating from Williamsport High School, Pippel enrolled in and completed her associate degree in ecology and environmental technology from Paul Smith's College in upstate New York.

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Pippel, 40, initially went to work at what was known as the Washington County Sanitary District. Hired by Greg Murray, now the county's administrator, she was stationed at the former Nicodemus wastewater treatment plant on Lockwood Road in Williamsport as an operator trainee.

She soon began working in the sanitary district's lab, then progressed to project management, in which she oversaw construction and managed grant money applications.

When Washington County took over the sanitary district in 1995, it was renamed the Washington County Water and Sewer Department.

"I became an operator again as the agency was downsized," Pippel said.

She soon advanced to chief plant operator at Nicodemus, then to regulatory affairs coordinator, a new position with the agency.

When Murray became county administrator in 2007, Pippel became deputy director of the Department of Water Quality.

There are a lot of responsibilities associated with the director's job -- making sure all standards are met at wastewater treatment plants and water plants; doing some lab work locally and sending samples out for analysis; checking up on solid waste facilities such as landfills, both current and closed; and facilitating recycling efforts in the county.

"We also watch the weather, making sure town water tanks are filled with treated water in case of an emergency," Pippel said.

Pippel also is chairwoman of the Upper Potomac Tributary team, which works to protect as well as open up that resource for residents and visitors.

"I was fortunate I came into this field when the Chesapeake Bay project was reauthorized in 2000 in six states," Pippel said.

For more information on the work of her division, call Pippel at 240-313-2600 or send an e-mail to jpippel@washco-md.net.

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