Larry Tropea: He really is in the Hot Seat

There was one thing Larry Tropea wasn't told last year before he accepted the job to take charge of the local water supply: We were in a drought that was on its way to becoming the worst since the mid-1960s.

"I didn't do all my due diligence to learn of the issues," Tropea laughs. The executive director of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority and the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority just celebrated his first anniversary on the job October 15. "At my first press conference, all the questions were about the landfill," he recalls. He thought that was going to be the big issue.

This isn't Tropea's first experience dealing with drought. When he was Pennsylvania's Deputy Secretary of Water Management, the state's drought coordinator worked for him. But this drought is much more extensive, and in Pennsylvania, "I didn't have to deal with it 24 hours a day," he says.

Tropea is impressed with the activity level of the citizens of Charlottesville. "The environmental community is bigger, smarter, and more active than other towns I've been in."

That activism can have a downside. "I probably have a thin skin," says Tropea. "We get a lot of Monday morning quarterbacks. Bless their souls, they never came to the six years of meetings we had about the water supply, yet now..."

There's been one other change for Tropea since coming to Charlottesville. "I watch the Weather Channel more than I ever have in my life."

Age: 29 in my heart, 55 on the biological clock, or 385 in dog years.

What brought you here? Position with Rivanna

What's worst about living here? Two things– the roads and the roads.

Favorite hangout? Sitting in my favorite chair at my hacienda.

What's overrated? Patience

People be surprised to know. That I'm a sports nut and avid collector of autographs.

If you could change one thing about yourself? Downshift my intensity meter. I sometimes operate in 10th gear.

Proudest accomplishment? The positive impact I have had on the careers of young environmental professionals who have left my nest and done some great things.

What do people find most annoying about you? I tend to be direct at times and have a real passion for my views.

Whom do you admire? [Former Pennsylvania governor and homeland security advisor] Tom Ridge, among others.

Favorite book? The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Stephen R. Covey. It is a wonderful articulation of the personal values needed at work and at home.

What subject causes you to rant? Politics getting in the way of fact-based decision-making.

What thrills you about life in the 21st century? Technology

What creeps you out about life in the 21st century? Technology

What do you drive? Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo

What's in your car tape player right now? George Jones' Greatest Hits. It's hard to beat the Possum.

What's your next journey? New Orleans for the spring 2003 NCAA Final Four.

Most trouble you've ever gotten in? No comment.

What do you regret? I have had too many wonderful experiences and achievements to focus on life through a rearview mirror.

Favorite comfort food? Pizza

Always in your refrigerator? Baking soda

Must-see TV? NCAA basketball and Monday Night Football

Favorite cartoon? Marmaduke

Describe a perfect day. On the beach, light wind in my face, waves lapping at the shore, a good book, a loud radio, cool shades, and my bride by my side.

Walter Mitty fantasy? Teaching at the University of Virginia and downloading my professional experience and wisdom on the environment and business.

Who'd play you in the movie? Dennis Franz, of course

Most embarrassing moment? Forgetting names and having to refer to folks I meet as "my man."

Best advice you ever got? Invest time and energy with your staff, and you will never be disappointed.

Favorite bumper sticker? "My blood runs Clemson orange" or "Good moms don't let their babies go to the University of South Carolina."