Susan Pekarek, chief engineer at Johnson County Wastewater (JCW) for the past three years and a 15-year employee with the department, has been named the new general manager of JCW providing sanitary sewer service to more than 400,000 customers throughout the county.
She succeeds John P. O’Neil, who retired from JCW on July 1, ending a 27-year career with Johnson County. During the county’s national search for his replacement, Pekarek served as the interim manager of the department.
A resident of Overland Park, Pekarek will assume her new duties September 25.
The selection of the new wastewater administrator was announced by Deputy County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson.
“Susan Pekarek has long served the residents of Johnson County in her role with JCW. She has demonstrated leadership, knowledge, professionalism, and hard work in wastewater operations,” Postoak Ferguson said. “The county will continue to benefit from her incredible value as a well-respected wastewater professional, a team player, a team leader, and a dedicated county employee. She’s a good fit to fill big shoes.”
In her new role, Pekarek will oversee the $280 million Tomahawk Wastewater Treatment Facility expansion project which is the largest project JCW will have completed in its 70 year history. Overall, she will oversee assets in excess of $2 billion.
“I am very excited about the challenges and opportunities for community service this position offers,” Pekarek said. “Johnson County Wastewater is recognized as one of the best wastewater utilities in the nation and I look forward to working with the excellent staff at JCW to continue that tradition.”
Pekarek has served as chief engineer, including overseeing the Asset Management, Planning and Public Projects Division, since 2013. She joined JCW in 2001 as a managing engineer in the Engineering and Operations and Maintenance Divisions along with assisting in three major wastewater treatment plant expansions totaling more than $100 million.
Before joining Johnson County, Pekarek began her professional career in 1997 as an environmental engineer at Burns and McDonnell where she worked for four years.
She received a bachelor’s degree (1996) in civil engineering from Kansas State University and a master’s degree (1997), also from KSU, in civil engineering with an environmental focus.
Her professional memberships and collaborations include the Core 4 Blue River Watershed Integrated Planning Task Force, the Kansas Water Environmental Association and Water Environmental Research Federation.
Johnson County Wastewater is responsible for the safe collection, transportation, and treatment of wastewater generated by more than 139,000 residential, industrial, and commercial accounts.
JCW operates a total treatment capacity of nearly 64 million gallons per day, including six major treatment plants, 31 pump stations, and more than 2,250 miles of wastewater lines that processes more than 18.5 billion gallons of sewage annually. The wastewater system covers a service area of more than 172 square miles and 16 cities.