From desk to tap: Meet Kacy Zycha
In the heart of a bustling office, where paperwork and administrative tasks consumed the workday, Kacy Zycha, fueled by ambition, seized an opportunity that propelled her from an administrative assistant to a licensed plant operator.
Eight years ago, Zycha was hired by the Brazos River Authority for a part-time administrative role at the East Williamson County Regional Water System. A year in, realizing the asset Zycha brought to the position, she was made full-time as the location's first senior administrative assistant.
From there, Zycha said she built up the position to what it is today, taking on more projects and gaining a better understanding of the water treatment center and its operations. The BRA owns and operates the East Williamson County Regional Water System, providing treated water to the city of Taylor, the Jonah Water Special Utility District, and the Lone Star Regional Water Authority. Those entities then provide water to users in eastern Williamson County and a small portion of southern Bell County.
Zycha previously had a variety of jobs throughout her life, living in different places, from Ohio to Austin. She was living in Rockdale when she saw the opening at the BRA.
"I thought at the time, 'This is the perfect job right now for me,'" she said.
Zycha got off with a flying start, creating an inventory of all the parts housed at the plant, and became more involved in budgeting and capital projects, completing work for both the Central and Lower basin.
"I was kind of like a one-stop hub," she said.
There weren't a lot of ways for Zycha to advance her career from that position without relocating to Waco to work at the BRA's Central Office, said Donald Malovets, BRA's regional maintenance superintendent for the Central & Lower Basin.
And Zycha said that was just too far of a drive.
Zycha formed an idea that initially lingered as a faint whisper in the recesses of her mind, gradually amplifying until it demanded her attention.
She told Malovets she was considering putting in the work to obtain her C Water License. Class C is the second level for Water System Operator licenses in Texas. Public water system operators who perform process control duties in the production or distribution of drinking water or operations companies that operate public water systems on a contractual basis must be licensed with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
"I got really interested in it," she said. "I was like, you know, I could do this."
Though he hated the possibility of losing Zycha to another department, Malovets said he likes to encourage everyone he works with to do as much as they can to further their career.
"She was very good at what she did," Malovets said. "She's a good worker. Very outgoing and gets along with everyone here."
Zycha took classes outside of her day-to-day job and when she had a spare moment from life as a single mom.
In October 2023, Zycha was officially licensed.
"I'm proud of her for that," Malovets said.
As luck would have it, someone retired from the East Williamson County Regional Water System, opening up a position Zycha could then throw her hat into. She applied, was hired as a plant operator, and started in her new role at the BRA on Dec. 18, 2023.
Zycha said she stands out at times at the plant as she's the only woman in that capacity at that location.
"Every so often, it feels like, I'm pretty short, petite, I'm strong but not as strong as those guys," she said. "But I can do anything. I know this plant just as well as everybody else. Now it's just learning the technicalities of it."
Zycha said she knew she could have looked outside of the BRA for job opportunities, but her coworkers kept her focused there.
"I've always been just one of the guys, and these are like my brothers over here," she said. "They've always made me feel like one of the team. We all have a pretty close relationship over here. We see each other probably more than our own families at times. The BRA has a lot to offer, but really, it's the people that make it so great to work here."
In her free time, Zycha likes spending time with her 11-year-old daughter and extended family members, whether it's watching the Green Bay Packers secure another win, firing up the barbecue, going fishing, or heading out to the lake.
Zycha, who has her associate's degree in culinary arts from Le Cordon Bleu USA, also enjoys the occasional potluck at the office, where she's not shy to bring chicken and dumplings, banana pudding, or a good key lime pie.