Passing Down an Engineering Legacy in Spain

January 23, 2018

Featured

Rafael Reig Armero sits outside his first job at La Jocica Dam around 1962. Photo courtesy of Benito Reig Carriedo.

Rafael Reig Armero sits outside his first job at La Jocica Dam around 1962. Photo courtesy of Benito Reig Carriedo.

You might call the Reigs the “first family of wastewater” in Spain.

Rafael Reig Armero was a co-founder of a Spanish water-sector organization similar to the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.). He held multiple leadership roles in the water sector until his death in 1999. His son, Benito Reig Carriedo, picked up the baton and has been an active WEF member and environmental engineer for the past 25 years. Ricardo Reig, Benito’s cousin who recently retired, spent most of his career working for the Tagus Water Authority (Madrid).

Rafael served as director of the Spanish Water Pollution Control Association from 1976 to 1979. The Water Environment Member Association now is known as the Asociacion para la Defensa de la Calidad de las Aguas. Photo courtesy of Benito.

Rafael served as director of the Spanish Water Pollution Control Association from 1976 to 1979. The Water Environment Federation Member Association now is known as Asociacion para la Defensa de la Calidad de las Aguas. Photo courtesy of Benito.

The story of this pioneering family of engineers begins with Rafael’s uncle, Jose Armero Pla. The Spanish civil and electrical engineer worked with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the early days of the U.S. space program. Inspired by his uncle, young Rafael earned a degree in civil engineering and spent the early years of his career designing hydropower projects in Spain.

When opportunity knocked in 1967, Rafael got the chance to work on water and wastewater treatment projects in Colombia, South America. He eventually returned home to Spain, where he built the water division of Dragados, a major European construction company based in Madrid.  From 1976 to 1979, he served as director of the Spanish Member Association, Asociacion para la Defensa de la Calidad de las Aguas (ADECAGUA).

Rafael works on water projects at home. Photo courtesy of Benito.

Rafael works on water projects at home. Photo courtesy of Benito.

All of this activity did not go unnoticed by Benito, who spent his formative years helping his father cut articles from WEF publications and translating them into Spanish.

“My father joined WEF because he firmly believed that sharing knowledge was a necessity,” said Benito, who credits his father with encouraging him to continue the family tradition by becoming a civil engineer. “He always wanted to teach and to share his knowledge.”

Benito Reig Carriedo started and works as director of the engineering firm 13 12 Agua y Recursos (Madrid) which focuses on water sector projects. Photo courtesy of Benito.

Benito Reig Carriedo founded the engineering firm 13 12 Agua y Recursos (Madrid), which focuses on water sector projects. Photo courtesy of Benito.

Benito’s water sector career began in earnest in 1988 with an internship focused on hydrological and hydraulic modeling. Three years later, he was among the founding partners of an environmental engineering company. He left the company in 1999 to create the water quality division at Inocsa (Madrid), one of the largest engineering firms in Spain.

In 2005, Benito started another engineering firm focused on the water sector, 13 12 Agua y Recursos (13 12 Water Resources), in Madrid.

Benito (center) sits on a panel to talk about fracking and water during an Asociación para la Defensa de la Calidad de las Aguas (ADECAGUA) conference. Photo courtesy of Benito.

Benito (center) sits on a panel to talk about hydraulic fracturing and water during an Asociación para la Defensa de la Calidad de las Aguas (ADECAGUA) conference. Photo courtesy of Benito.

“WEF was and still is ‘the knowledge source’ of the wastewater sector,” Benito said. He joined WEF in 1992 and has attended about a dozen WEFTEC conferences. In 2013, he followed his father’s footsteps by becoming director of ADECAGUA. Currently, he is a member of WEF’s House of Delegates representing the organization. He also spends some of his spare time translating WEF publications into Spanish.

Because Benito’s four siblings have pursued careers in other fields, he is pinning his hopes for continuing his family’s legacy on his 7-year-old niece, Alicia. “But only if she doesn’t have a defined preference for another career,” he said.

— Mary Bufe, WEF Highlights

My Water Legacy Campaign Expands to Mentorship

The #MyWaterLegacy campaign was launched at WEFTEC 2016 to bring attention to the value of membership and tradition of working in the water sector.

During the past year, WEF Highlights articles have featured the accomplishments and contributions of members who have passed down the tradition of actively participating in WEF and working in the water sector. These articles have expanded to focus on WEF members who are active water-sector mentors.

Do you know of a WEF member who has mentored others in the water sector or a family with multiple generations of WEF members and water sector professionals? Contact Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights editor, at jfulcher@wef.org.

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