By Kristine Galloway
CHEYENNE – After many years, Kevin Frederick is entrusting Wyoming’s water quality to someone new.
Frederick retired May 4 from his position as Water Quality Division administrator for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ).
WDEQ Director Todd Parfitt said, “We appreciate Kevin’s many years of service to WDEQ and the state of Wyoming. We’ll miss his incredible leadership and extensive knowledge of the agency’s work, but we wish him all the best in his well-earned retirement.”
Frederick came to WDEQ in 1989 from the coal, and oil and gas exploration industry. He first served in WDEQ as a senior environmental analyst in the Lander field office.
Frederick quickly proved his expertise and in 1990 earned a promotion to Groundwater Protection Control Program supervisor, which brought him to Cheyenne. In 2008, he became the Groundwater/Underground Injection Control Program manager.
Frederick’s final promotion came when he took over top command of the Water Quality Division in 2013.
Lily Barkau, WDEQ’s groundwater section manager, said, “There are bosses and managers, and then there are true leaders and coaches. I would put him in that category.”
She worked with Frederick on many projects, including the Pavilion Area Groundwater Investigation, the Gillette-Madison Well Field Project and remediation of groundwater contamination at formerly used defense sites, such as the Atlas Missile Site D west of Cheyenne.
Barkau explained that Frederick recognizes the importance of all the work his employees are doing, and he doesn’t undervalue some work in favor of larger projects.
“He really always has the time for everyone,” Barkau said. And given Frederick’s depth of knowledge about his division, his time and feedback were invaluable.
Jason Thomas, section manager for the Wyoming Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WYPDES), said he appreciated how decisive Frederick was on top of taking the time to listen to his employees.
“He’s someone who likes to inform himself. He hears people out. He was tough when he needed to be and gentle when that was more appropriate, which is a rare combination,” Thomas said.
“But he’s not afraid to, at some point, just make a call on something and move it forward.”
David Waterstreet, WDEQ’s Watershed Protection Program section manager, also valued Frederick’s mentorship and said he appreciated that Frederick trusted his employees to do their work without looking over their shoulders.
“He lays out his expectations and then just lets you go and lets you get your job done. He had his checks and balances, but he allowed us to do what we were trained to do,” Waterstreet said.
He worked with Frederick for nearly 15 years. In particular, they spent a lot of time working together to address sediment at the Willwood Dam on the Shoshone River.
Waterstreet added that Frederick improved many processes in the Water Quality Division. The permitting and approval processes moved faster and Frederick guided the division through new expectations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“We saw a big adjustment during this period, and he provided the leadership that allowed us to address these significant changes. He provided the opportunity for us to come up with new, innovative ways to address issues,” Waterstreet said.
Thomas agreed that Frederick’s work improved efficiency and collaboration, as well as reducing stress, for all his employees.
Jennifer Zygmunt, WDEQ’s Watershed Protection Nonpoint Source Program coordinator, worked with Frederick for 17 years, including those efficiency processes and efforts to move the Water Quality Division to digital workflows and digital records management.
She is serving as interim Water Quality Division administrator.
“He was very supportive in that process. He was willing to go out on a limb to support it and make that happen,” she said.
And Zygmunt added her voice to the praise of Frederick’s supportive leadership and mentoring.
“He gave thoughtful consideration to everything he did to make good decisions for water quality, Wyoming and the people who worked for him,” she said.
Frederick said he looks forward to spending more time with his wife in Wyoming and Arizona. That doesn’t mean he’ll forget his colleagues at WDEQ anytime soon.
"It's been a pleasure and rare opportunity to work with so many professional, dedicated staff within the Water Quality Division and director’s office. Any success I have had, I owe it to these people,” Frederick said.