The soft-spoken outdoorsman is a member of numerous industry associations and is affiliated with various charitable organizations, including his favorite, Water for People. Camp is an active member of the National Rural Water Association, Water Environment Federation, American Water Works Association, Georgia Association of Water Professionals, Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District Technical Coordinating Committee and the Bartow County Historical Society.
Superintendent since 1987, Camp also has garnered numerous awards, including the prestigious American Water Works Association George Warren Fuller Award for his service in the industry. He will receive the award at the AWWA annual meeting in Dallas, Texas, in June.
Name: Gene Camp
Age: 62 in May
City of Residence: Stilesboro
Family: Wife, Sharon Turner Camp; daughter, Rebecca; grandson, Zach
Education: McEachern High School, attended technical school and has taken classes from University of West Georgia, Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia
How did you become the Bartow County Water Department superintendent?
A: I started out as a plumber, became a plumbing contractor and conditioned air contractor, and then I got into utilities ... high pressure gas, utility water lines and sewer lines. I did that until 1987, and then this position came open and I applied for it and got it.
How has the water department changed -- and the processes and services you provide -- since 1987?
A: Tremendously. Gosh, in '87, we had 4,500 customers and 22 employees and I forget how many miles of pipe we had. It was small, and of course, everything was done by hand -- even the billing was done by hand.
In '87 it was starting to boom a little bit and we were getting behind, way behind, so we had to take advantage of the technology that was available. It's evolved into more of a technology-driven industry. Even in the processes, the plants and the operations, the storage tanks, the pumping stations, all those are automatically controlled now where we used to manually control them.
What is the biggest water challenge facing Bartow County now and with growth projected for the next decade?
A: I think it's going to be securing a future supply, which we are working on all the time as far as being able to protect what allocations we have now. We were fortunate when we went in with the [Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District] that our industrial base gave us a basis for additional allocations. We came out of there with pretty good allocations for 2030, through that time frame, as opposed to our neighbors Paulding County and Cherokee County, which are more residential driven.
How did winning the American Water Works Association's George Warren Fuller Award impact you?
A: It shocked me. As a matter of fact, when they called my name out ... my wife said I blurted out something that I couldn't believe was me. It's probably one of the biggest honors I've had since I've been here, and I've been very fortunate to be associated with some really great people and involved in some really great programs. ... I guess that's the icing on the cake, to be recognized for it. That's something you don't expect. You don't get involved in those things for that, you get involved to make a difference. I'm just pleased that apparently I made a difference.
As a fisherman, river, lake or ocean? Why?
A: I like trout fishing cause you're in the woods and it's peaceful, quiet. It's a challenge, just a lot of fun.
What makes Bartow County special?
A: The people and their vision for a good quality of life. I mean everyone tries to maintain that. It's obvious to me from this position that change is inevitable but you have an opportunity to manage that to where it still maintains the quality of life that we have here, the same thing that brought us here. You know, I moved here in 1971 and I knew I wasn't going back to Cobb County.
If you had a dream job, what would it be?
A: Geez. I'd say this one. It gives you an opportunity, like I said, to make a difference. I don't know what else I'd do. I've worked in water and sewer all my life, since I was 16 years old. Doing this kind of work is very rewarding, stressful but rewarding.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: Oh. I knew you were going to ask that. I don't know. I'm pretty well an open book.
I have some issues that I've been dealing with for years; one is Parkinson's disease. I'm an advocate for that group. I'm very blessed ... As long as I take my medicine, I'm doing good.
I just, I don't know. People may have different opinions of me. I think most of them know what there is to know about me.
What's your favorite meal?
A: Breakfast. I'm a country boy. I like country ham and red-eye gravy -- all that stuff that is not good for you.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things could you not live without?
A: You mean material things? A good knife, probably a rope ... I could get by with a knife and a rope. I really don't know what the third one would be -- companionship, maybe.