April 13, 2007 — When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hands outs its annual Environmental Quality Awards, Mirko Restovic, the senior project management engineer at the V.I. Waste Management Authority, will be one of the recipients.
"It's good recognition. They give you this when you're getting ready to retire," Restovic said, laughing.
Restovic, 55, said he does plan to retire in the not too distant future. He's spent 30 years with the local government tending to its sewer system.
May Adams Cornwall, who heads up Waste Management, said that Restovic brought millions in federal grants to the territory. The WMA executive director said the grants covered myriad issues way beyond solid waste.
"He's a real good bulldog and watches every penny," she said.
She called Restovic sharp and insightful and a person who's quick to pass along his vast knowledge to those younger than himself.
Restovic said he started with what was then called the Department of Conservation and Cultural Affairs, which later became the Department of Planning and Natural Resources. He said Conservation continually complained about the territory's ailing sewer systems, so the Department of Public Works hired him to fix it.
When the WMA took over the territory's sewage treatment system, he moved to the authority.
"My mission hasn't changed in 30 years," he said. "The politics, titles and agencies changed."
Keshema Webbe, life scientist at the EPA office in the Virgin Islands office, said that Restovic puts in extra time on his job.
"He considers his job very important," she said.
Born in LaPaz, Bolivia, he grew up in New York City. He graduated from Manhattan College with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and a master's degree in environmental engineering. Restovic said he completed work for a doctorate, but didn't finish writing his dissertation.
"Maybe I'll do that when I retire," he said.
After working as chief engineer on a highway project in Washington, D.C., he moved to California to run a research center for the Los Angeles Sanitation District.
He wasn't too keen on Los Angeles.
"I was a city boy and didn't like Los Angeles driving," he said.
When a college friend whose father worked at what was then Hess Oil Virgin Islands, now Hovensa, told him about an EPA job in the Virgin Islands to identify problems with hazardous and solid waste, he made the move.
One thing led to another, and soon he was working for the local government.
He's proud of the various department and agency accomplishments that occurred during his 30 years on the job. Restovic said the territory now has four state-of-the-art sewage treatment plants, and is working on a computerized mapping system of the entire system.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.