Wastewater Treatment Division Director

King County Wastewater Treatment Division
Seattle, Washington


For more than 50 years, King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) has protected public health, the environment and improved water quality by providing wastewater collection and treatment for 17 cities and 17 local sewer districts. Services are provided to about 1.8 million people within a 424-square-mile service area, including most of King County and parts of south Snohomish County and northeast Pierce County.


The regional system includes three large wastewater treatment plants (West Point in Seattle, South Plant in Renton, and Brightwater in Woodinville), two smaller wastewater treatment plants (Vashon Island and City of Carnation), a community septic system, combined sewer overflow treatment facilities, wet weather treatment facilities, regulator stations, pump stations, and over 391 miles of sewer pipelines.


The Division operates, maintains, and improves treatment facilities and educates the public and businesses on ways to protect water quality. Guided by a commitment to clean water and healthy habitat, WTD remains focused on resource recycling and renewable energy production as part of its effort to attain carbon neutral operations. Success means clean water and healthy habitats. It also means being accountable to ratepayers. 


WTD consistently works to identify and implement a range of strategies to advance the goals of King County’s Equity and Social Justice Strategic Plan. WTD has reviewed and adjusted many of its internal business practices in order to address the racial disparities and inequities that exist for communities of color in King County. While the County’s ESJ Strategic Plan outlines many of these disparities, WTD has pursued ways to address unequal access to some of the determinants of equity, institutional and structural racism, as well as social, economic, and environmental inequities.


WTD’s efforts are directed both outwardly to advance equity and social justice outcomes within the community and residents of its service area as well as inwardly with focused training and skill development for employees so that they may advance equity and social justice through their work.



The Division Director has responsibility for the operations and the delivery of all wastewater treatment in the region. The Director leads 654 employees and manages an annual operating budget of $150 million as well as a capital budget of $250 million.


In 2019, WTD invested $211 million in major capital programs to build new facilities and upgrade existing infrastructure, including 21 major maintenance projects at West Point and South Treatment Plants. Current key capital projects include: Georgetown Wet Weather Treatment Station; Ship Canal Water Quality Project (partnering with Seattle Public Utilities); North Mercer Island and Enatai Interceptor Upgrade; and Lake Hills Trunk and Northwest Lake Sammamish Interceptor Project.

The Division Director has broad responsibility for the operations of wastewater treatment in the region as well as charting the course for the utility in the future. The Director must be committed to environmental stewardship. The Director is currently leading a comprehensive planning effort, called the Clean Water Plan, which will guide future water quality investments over the next 40 years. This effort includes significant engagement with customers, stakeholders, elected officials, and other governments from around the region. The Director is also responsible for the implementation of WTD’s vision and strategic business plans, directing and supervising operational and maintenance activities, and ensuring compliance with all environmental and safety requirements. 

The Division Director guides all work related to sustainability and resiliency through the division sustainability work plan. Specifically, the Division Director oversees work to achieve carbon neutrality targets, meet energy conservation goals and prepare for the impacts of a changing climate.


For this important role King County is seeking candidates with a combination of technical, business, and emotional intelligence. The successful candidate will possess a record of professional experience that demonstrates progressive responsibilities and significant senior-level management experience in a complex environment. 


The ideal candidate will have a passion for public service and will lead by example to gain the confidence of the public, elected officials and staff. 


Top candidates will possess a bachelor’s degree with at least seven years experience in a senior leadership role within a substantial and complex government agency, a not-for-profit or a for-profit corporation that involves leading a diverse staff and management of significant funds. A master’s degree and experience in design construction, operation, or maintenance of wastewater treatment or water reclamation is preferred. Candidates should bring strengths in both external relations and high-level internal management, with an ability to balance the two. 


The preferred candidate will have experience and demonstrated success in the following areas:

·      Large-scale leadership and management experience.

·      Ability to make sound decisions about utility investments and strategies, the management of projects and the operation of wastewater services.

·      Strategic leadership and planning skills in a large, multi-service organization.

·      Significant fiscal responsibility in a complex organization managing budgets, which include multiple sources of funds.

·      Cultural competency which enables effective working relationships in cross-cultural situations.

·      High level of integrity, ethics and transparency.

·      Successful experience working with labor unions in an interest-based bargaining environment.

·      Experience implementing LEAN management methods aimed at simplifying processes and reducing costs.

·      Ability to implement executive and legislative policies and make internal policy decisions with large-scale implications.

·      Successful experience working with business, labor, elected officials, tribes, community leaders and other stakeholders and partners.

·      Excellent writing, editing and verbal communication skills.

·      A strong track record as an implementer who thrives on managing a variety of key initiatives concurrently.

·      Relationship builder with the flexibility and finesse to manage by influence.

Competitive candidates will demonstrate the following competencies:

·      Strategic Agility

·      Political Savvy

·      Dealing with Ambiguity

·      Managerial Courage



Persons interested in this position should submit the following information:

§  A cover letter. 

§  A current resume.


If you have questions regarding this announcement, please call Marissa Karras at 360-956-1336. This position will remain open until filled but the screening process will move quickly. To be considered for the first round of interviews please submit your application materials at www.karrasconsulting.net no later than December 21st, 2020. 


King County is an equal opportunity employer and is strongly committed to enhancing the diversity of its workforce. We will assist in the recruitment, application and selection process to applicants with disabilities who request such assistance. 



The annual salary range for this position is $176K -$224K. Benefits are among the best in the region and include comprehensive medical, dental, vision and life insurance, public employee retirement system contributions, holiday, vacation and sick leave.


The headquarters for the Wastewater Treatment Division had been in downtown Seattle but the office-based workforce will be permanently shifted to home offices. Some space will be retained downtown for meetings and collaboration but more use of on-site work locations such as treatment plants for in-person gatherings will be expected in the post-pandemic future.



King County government, named in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., provides regional and local services to two million residents, including 250,000 people living in unincorporated areas. Regional services include Metro transit, public health, wastewater treatment, courts, jails, prosecutors, public defenders, community and social services, and the King County International Airport.  King County is the 13th largest county in the nation by population, 9th largest by employment, and covers 2,134 square miles, 39 cities, 760 lakes and reservoirs, and six major river systems with 3,000 miles of streams. The Wastewater Treatment Division is the largest division in the Department of Natural Resources and Parks which also includes garbage disposal and recycling services for all of King County except Seattle, management of 30,000 acres of parks and natural lands, and 175 miles of regional trails, river and floodplain management, land conservation, farmland protection, salmon recovery, and a number of climate and energy-related programs.

King County is an increasingly diverse and dynamic community with a global flavor. It has an environment that is growing, and an environment where people and businesses can thrive.  King County is a vibrant area and leading center for advances in aerospace, computer software, bioinformatics, genomics, telemedicine, electronics, and environmental engineering. 


The Seattle area is also home to Microsoft, Starbucks, Amazon, Boeing, REI, Eddie Bauer, and Nintendo. Some of the world’s most dynamic new companies are spinning out of the Puget Sound area, which is naturally the nation’s leader in internet business start-ups. There is a palpable sense of entrepreneurship, innovation, and local governmental leadership that is receptive to effective new approaches to challenging issues. This area is also the home to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the University of Washington and other outstanding institutions of higher learning.


King County is home to the city of Seattle, suburban cities, small towns and rural communities, as well as forests, bodies of water and farmlands. King County’s moderate climate combined with a contrasting geography of water and mountains encourage a wealth of year round outdoor activities such as sailing, kayaking, skiing and hiking. Seattle is known for its culture and art, with many cutting-edge restaurants and quality theaters. With excellent schooling, affordable health care and a low crime rate, King County offers a life that balances favorable working and living conditions.