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Fitzwater to retire as sewer district manager

Dick Fitzwater, general manager of the Karcher Creek Sewer District, has announced his retirement after spending 27 years in the business of wastewater treatment.

Fitzwater will retire April 28. He has been the general manager of the Karcher Creek Sewer District for 12 years and worked for the district since 1991.

After serving as a member of the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, Fitzwater returned to Bremerton and got a job with the sewer department. He advanced quickly, eventually earning the management position at the district, a multi-million dollar agency.

“I knew Dick in 1984,” said John Poppe, plant manager of the Wastewater Treatment Plant. “We worked together in the construction and startup of the Bremerton Wastewater Plant. Dick’s made a lot of contributions to the wastewater treatment industry. He’s sort of a silent giant. He’ll be missed.”

Fitzwater also earned the highest state certification for operating wastewater treatment plants and also has state certification for wastewater collection systems.

For 13 years, he worked for the city of Bremerton, first as an operator, foreman and then wastewater operations supervisor. During that time, the Puget Sound Section of the Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association honored him as the Operator of the Year.

As the general manager for Karcher Creek Sewer District, he oversaw the replacement of the older collection system with a new and better pipe system and updated the pump stations. He worked with Annapolis Water District as they each moved to the new consolidated offices.

Fitzwater’s dedication to the district’s customers was further demonstrated by his hard work overseeing of the design and construction of the expansion of the Wastewater Treatment Facility the district shares with the city of Port Orchard.

Fitzwater was also active in state and regional wastewater activities. For 12 years, he served on the board of directors of the Washington Wastewater Collection Personnel Association. He was on the Executive Committee of the Water and Sewer Risk Management Pool and also served on committees in the Washington Association of Sewer and Water Districts.

His expertise was also used in the Department of Ecology Water Quality Partnership.

“He is one of those unsung quiet public professionals that keep things operating,” said Larry Curles, general manager of the Annapolis Water District and formerly of the city of Port Orchard, who has worked with Fitzwater on various projects for many years.

According to Poppe, Curles will most likely temporarily manage both Districts until Fitzwater’s replacement has been hired.

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