November 2019: Featured Employee Karen Foster

November 2019: Featured Employee Karen Foster

WWTP Industrial Pre-treatment Specialist
December 6, 2019

This month’s featured employee, Karen Foster, has had a love for science since she was a kid. She always wanted to know more about nature, rocks, and fossils. Later, geology became her favorite discipline, because it combines natural sciences like biology and chemistry. As the Industrial Pretreatment Specialist at the Wastewater Treatment Plant, she gets to put that passion to work.

Karen joined GUC in 2015 after graduating from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. A Greenville native, she said she always wanted to work at GUC. She began her career here as an Operator at the Water Treatment Plant (WTP). Next, she worked as a Laboratory Analyst at the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) before transferring to her current position as the Industrial Pretreatment Specialist in 2017.

Karen works with industrial customers who send pretreated wastewater to the WWTP. Her responsibilities are to monitor and inspect these pretreatment processes. She analyzes the data and samples provided by our industrial customers, ensuring they remain compliant with the permits issued to them (by GUC) in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Pretreatment Regulations.

“I monitor what industrial customers send to our plant in order to protect the plant from chemicals or metals that can be found in the wastewater,” said Karen.

Her favorite part of the job is the inspections, where she can see different industrial processes.  “I like to see behind the scenes at the companies we work with,” she said. “I’m always learning something new.”

Karen serves on the Steering Team for the Lighthouse Process, our peer observation safety program. She is also a Lighthouse Observer and conducts peer-to-peer observations, providing feedback to reinforce safe behaviors and reduce behaviors that put employees at risk for injuries. Data from those observations is used to identify and remove barriers to safe job performance. One of the first barriers that Karen identified as an Observer was a high level of hydrogen sulfide (a hazardous gas) at the influent structure at the plant. This was eliminated after a Bioxide chemical feed was installed at the Southside Pump Station. The addition of Bioxide reduces hydrogen sulfide production between the pump station and the WWTP. There’s a video about this barrier removal process in the Safety Section of

This year, Karen is part of the iLead Program. Her group project proposal is a Cease the Grease Marketing Expansion environmental project that will help reduce the problem with grease in our sewer system. A part of the project is collaboration with local restaurants on eliminating the amount of grease poured into the system.

This December, Karen and her husband, Brandon, will celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary. Brandon is a teacher at Bertie Early College in Windsor. They live in Williamston and have two dogs and two cats. They love hiking and visiting places with rollercoasters. A few of their favorite vacation spots are Boone; Williamsburg, Virginia; and New Mexico. Karen also likes to sing, and in her spare time she performs at the Martin Community Players Theater in Williamston.


TV ShowThe Great British Baking Show
Favorite Snack -  White Cheddar Popcorn
Favorite Music 80s Rock
Favorite RestaurantGeorgia Deans Restaurant & Bar