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Women in Trades: Meet Su Farley, Water Operations Mechanic


The Portland Water Bureau’s Women in Trades Planning Committee received an award from Oregon Trades Women for the main break simulation workshop at the 2016 Women in Trades Career Fair.

The Women in Trades Career Fair is an annual event produced by Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. This interactive fair encourages middle and high school girls and women to explore the possibility of a future career in the trades.

This year’s Women in Trades Career Fair will be held on May 19 and 20.

For more than 13 years, women from the Portland Water Bureau have been a key part of this unique event with the goal of promoting and supporting the advancement and employment of women in the trades.

Thank you to the professional and talented women in the Water Bureau who have dedicated their career to the trades.

Get to Know Su Farley, Water Bureau Tradeswoman

What is your role at the Water Bureau?

I’m a Water Operations Mechanic. I respond to emergencies from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Some of the emergencies I help with are main breaks, property side leaks, city-side leaks, emergency locates, shut offs for repairs and many more.

Describe your typical day for us. What does that look like?

First, I transfer calls to my phone. Then I get my work request paperwork from the radio room and triage what needs to be done first in order of priority. Then I head out to my first call and continue until I get additional emergency calls from the Water Control Center. I have to think on my feet a lot. For instance, I prioritize new calls with previous calls and divert to any main break or other water emergency that comes up.

What happens if you get a call for a water emergency while you’re in the field?

If there’s a main break or service leak that is causing damage, I call the on-call supervisor to bring in a crew. After I make that call, I locate the gates and throttle it down until it is under control. In addition, I mark for locates and, if time allows, I locate the main and services and try to pinpoint where the leak is.

What happens when you get back in the office at the end of the day?

At the end of the day, I record my findings in the night log. If there’s work that needs to be done, I email the supervisor and the scheduling folks to generate a work order to get the work done and attach pictures.

What does it mean to be a woman in a field where women have been historically underrepresented?

One more step for womankind!

Either at the Water Bureau or beyond, which women have served as your professional role models or mentors?

My mom.

How do you see fellow tradeswomen supporting each other?

I see great leaps and bounds with women supporting and encouraging one another in the trades!

What else do you want to share about yourself and your work?

Honestly, it’s a tough row to hoe, but now impossible and very rewarding.

Share with us something about your life outside of work.

I own my own business and raised four children by myself. My family is my hobby. I am blessed.

Learn More About Women in Trades Career Fair

To learn more about the Women in Trades Career Fair, visit the Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. website at


Add a Comment


Hank and Priscilla Downing

May 15, 2017 at 7:50 PM

We are so proud of our very hard working daughter!
She is honest, trustworthy and faces challenges with an "I can do it" attitude.


Myssie VanLoo

May 16, 2017 at 1:35 PM

Hey, I know that face! Hardworking might be an understatement, this woman can do anything! Well deserved recognition. Love you Neighbor.


Diane Woodruff

May 16, 2017 at 2:50 PM

I have known Su for years, and hardworking is a completely inadequate description of her! I would start with highly ethical, extremely hardworking, dedicated, professional and well respected as a worker, mother and friend, and that is only the beginning!

I have always told her that I want to "be just like her when I grow up" and she has been my role model as a (fabulous) mom.



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