Fox Metro District Manager Named Waubonsee “Fab 40”
Sugar Grove — Thomas Muth has served the community for his entire career, ensuring the infrastructure is in place for the region to grow. He worked as a civil engineer for the City of Aurora for more than 10 years and has spent the past 21 years as district manager of the Fox Metro Water Reclamation District. Waubonsee Community College is proud to honor him as one of the college’s “Fabulous 40” alumni.
Fox Metro Water Reclamation District Manager Thomas Muth, seen here at Fox Metro’s treatment facility, has been named a Waubonsee Community College “Fabulous 40” alumnus.
As part of the college’s yearlong 40th anniversary celebration, Waubonsee is honoring 40 alumni and students who embody the mission, vision and values of the college. These individuals represent the diversity of Waubonsee’s students and the college district, as well as the diversity of the college’s mission as a comprehensive community college.
Muth grew up in Aurora and went to East Aurora High School. An involved student, he played football and baseball and participated in other student activities in high school. After graduating in 1969, he went to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He only spent a year there, however, because he felt that he wasn’t on the right path.
With a strong family connection already in place with the Navy, he enlisted and was stationed on the West Coast. He attained the rank of operations specialist, serving on a destroyer under active duty. He returned to the area in 1973 and enrolled at Waubonsee. At the same time, he landed a job with Aurora’s engineering department.
“I started as the lowest man on the totem pole,” he said. “Working at the city, there were all kinds of learning opportunities. It was great for me to be able to work and go to school at the same time.”
Muth was learning on the job and in the classroom at a tremendous pace.
“My math and physics instructors challenged me and tried to make me successful,” he said. “I learned that these are the things that are important. There’s no question that Waubonsee gave me a solid foundation that was a recipe for success.”
Outside of the classroom, Muth also gained a full student experience playing one year of baseball as a pitcher for the Waubonsee Chiefs.
“Working, going to school and playing ball took a lot of work, but I had a lot of fun,” he said.
With his tight schedule, Muth tapped his life experience to get everything done.
“I saw the real priority of education,” he said. “Waubonsee gave me the confidence to succeed.”
Ultimately, Muth knew that to advance his engineering career with Aurora, he would need to complete his civil engineering degree. He would earn a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Midwest College of Engineering (now the Illinois Institute of Technology) and go on to earn a master’s degree at Aurora University as well. He would work with Aurora’s engineering department until 1986.
“The city was going from a smaller city to a larger city,” he said. “There were a tremendous amount of changes taking place.”
Managing growth is constant at the Fox Metro Water Reclamation District, where Muth became district manager in 1986 and still holds the position today. During this time, the local population has nearly doubled. He has led a plant expansion that allows Fox Metro to treat more than 30 million gallons of water each day and cover two communities — Sugar Grove and Oswego — that were not previously a part of the water reclamation district.
“It’s a tough business, but people here have a passion for their job and enjoy what they’re doing,” he said. “They care about the environment.”
Muth takes very seriously the stewardship of the Fox River’s water quality. The Fox Metro treatment facility was named the second best treatment facility in the country and the best in Illinois.
“We look at ourselves as environmentalists,” he said. “What we do has a tremendous amount of positive impact on the Fox River.”
Muth is especially proud of Fox Metro’s human resources — his team.
“Everyone here is always thinking and working hard, bringing their different experiences,” he said. “They always try to innovate and that makes me proud.”
Under Muth, Fox Metro has made a determined focus on incorporating new technology and “green” procedures. A major project in 2006 tied Waubonsee into the Fox Metro system.
“We try to be ahead of the curve,” he said. “We attempt to be cost effective in what we do to meet the needs of the community. We’re fortunate to have a proactive board that has helped us to stay ahead of the game.”
Muth and his wife, Jill, live in Aurora. They have four children, Kurt, Chris, Matthew and Lindsay.
“The integral piece of my life has been my wife,” he said. “She’s kept it all together.”