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WWTP superintendent Humbert retires – Three Rivers Commercial-News

THREE RIVERS – Doug Humbert celebrated his retirement as Wastewater Treatment Plant supervisor with a lunch for colleagues, friends and family on Friday, August 26.
Humbert began at the plant as an operator in August 2003; he filled the role of interim superintendent in 2010 until the city hired James Baker. In October 2013 when Baker left, he offered Humbert the superintendent post.
His favorite part of the position?
“The variety,” he said. “To do this job you have to know biology, chemistry, physicals, mechanics, electronics, computer programming and system integration.”
His broad life experience led him to the place where he could combine these skills.
After graduating with a biology degree, Humbert started in a wastewater laboratory, then went to a hazardous waste lab at a landfill. As a project manager for a company that did environmental investigation and site characterization, he flew all over the east side of the country. Eventually he became environmental manager at a hazardous waste landfill in Ft. Wayne, Ind.
When a joint venture with a friend to form a company doing in situ bioremediation did not pan out, he took a job in construction.
Now the father of two sons, however, he felt he should seek 40-hour-a-week employment in wastewater.
“It never was,” he said. Early morning, middle of the night, “several times control systems failed and we had to manually operate pumps until we could get someone in to repair them.”
The Village of Constantine’s force main frequently needed pumps cycled by hand before the city turned the main back over to the village in October 2021.
In Humbert’s early years, he recalls not having new parts for machines – rather, needing to take them from old equipment stored in the plant’s big barn. But the Baker era ushered in a time of part purchasing, which resulted in significant plant improvement.
Humbert’s retirement will see him staying involved with the upcoming WWTP upgrades as a resident project representative with Jones & Henry Engineers.
Next to lead the seven-employee plant will be Taylor Davis, who has worked with Humbert for about three months on the transition.
“He is very knowledgeable in all of wastewater, a great guy, and easy to work with,” Davis said of his predecessor. “It will take me years to gain half the knowledge he has.”
Joe Madaras, an operator tech at the WWTP, called Humbert a “hands-on boss” who was very attentive to the plant’s output, and would much rather be working on a machine than filing paperwork.
“He leads by example – he’s here at 2 a.m. if there is an issue, and not just because he’s the boss,” Madaras said.
City manager Joe Bippus described Humbert as a likeable man who brought good ideas, solutions, and input to city department head meetings.
In the near future, he will bring good ideas to the Three Rivers Sports Complex, as he transitions into a new role as the part-time executive director of Armstrong Park.
He looks to take it to the next level – ensuring it is filled on more weekends in the summer.
“It was built for people to use, now we need to get people there,” he said.
Humbert initially became part of the Three Rivers sports scene when sons Gabriel and Noah were young and playing AYSO soccer. First as a parent, then as a board member – his involvement never stopped.
Even some of the design of the new complex – the fact that it is a drive-through park surrounded by a footpath – was his idea, borne from watching parents walk while they waited during practices. The path is an incredibly popular feature, and not just with parents – it’s in use from sunup to sundown.
Humbert and his wife, Robin Wagner, have been married for 23 years. She works from home as a project manager for a credit card service company.
Gabriel now studies computer engineering as a sophomore at Michigan State, and Noah will be attending Michigan Tech for mechanical engineering technology, as well as pole vaulting.
The family also has two mutts.
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Three Rivers, MI 49093
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