Repp Glaettli, Water Resources Specialist, Albemarle County

Repp Glaettli, Water Resources Specialist

Where were you born (and raised, if different)?
I was born and raised mostly in Southern Northern Virginia (Fauquier County), minus 6 younger years in Pacific Palisades, CA.

When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?
I was looking to move back to the east to be closer to family and friends after living in Texas for 2 years, and landed a job here at the County.

What neighborhood do you live in now?
I live in Downtown Belmont.

Family (spouse, kids, etc.)?
I have a beautiful girlfriend and she has a lovely 8-year-old daughter.

What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?
Go Royal Dukes! I earned a BS in Art from JMU in 1999, and a MS in Geo-Environmental Studies from Shippensburg University in 2003.

What were you doing before you came to work for the county?
I was doing stormwater work for the City of Killeen, Texas.

Your job title is What Resources Specialist – what, in your own words, would you say you do?
I manage the inspection program of private and public Stormwater Management Facilities so the County can comply with State and Federal law. That basically means that I help make sure that all the facilities, like rain gardens or dry ponds, are functioning as designed. I spend part of my time conducting field inspections, and part of my time managing what I see during those inspections. If something isn’t up to code, I talk to the owner of the facility and help them fix the issue. And of course I have to document everything.

I also work to stay educated on the best ways to deal with stormwater so that facility owners, the County, and the environment all benefit. This last part has led me to learn about how using native plants can really help with practical issues like infiltration and erosion, and so I developed the only County-specific, searchable native plant landscaping database in the United States. This database has lead to a loose affiliation of local partners creating the Piedmont Native Plant Landscaping Initiative.  We had our first symposium last February.

What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?
I find learning about the importance of using native plants in our landscaping very rewarding. When native plants are used, there can be both a reduction in long term landscaping costs and a reduction in emissions, as well as a boost in habitat for pollinators, butterflies and birds. Research has shown using native plants increases beneficial caterpillars and diversifies bird population. Diverse bird populations reduce the incidents of West Nile virus. Examples of this research can be found in Bringing Nature Home (2009), as well as research by Dr. John Swaddle at William and Mary.

I would say the most difficult part of my job is keeping up with over 800 stormwater facilities and their owners, which are located throughout the County.

How does your job most directly impact the average person?
Stormwater management and the use of native plants can help reduce the impact of development on our natural resources, and improve healthy living environments for us humans.

What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the county?
I have just designed and installed a native plant demonstration garden at a rear entrance of the County Office Building on McIntire Road (see photo).  I am testing out 9 different types of shade-tolerant native groundcover plants for aesthetics and low maintenance.  People are starting to become more interested in shifting from turf grass to a more native groundcover–you can learn more from the cover story of American Public Works Association, Reporter, April 2013: “Native Plants vs. Turf Lawn: Sustainability Made Profitable.” This garden has brought together a number of my interests: A love of native plants, design and creating a product.

What is a little-known fact about you?
I guess I have two. I have recently started the Dominion Pinball League. We have a group on Facebook and always welcome new members.

Also I am an active artist. I have most recently painted a series called NATIVE:  Fish of the James and Rivanna Rivers, where each painting highlights one native fish in a visually interesting way. I was inspired by the idea of protecting our waters so that we can also protect the amazing fish that live in them.

What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc.?
I volunteer under the Rivanna Chapter of Virginia Master Naturalists, I do citizen science projects like frog and butterfly surveys. I also work with Streamwatch,  and I am on the Board of the Jefferson Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society.  I also enjoy traveling, biking, badminton, music, art and spending time with my girlfriend and her daughter.