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Peter William "Pete" Dobrolski, a civil engineer who helped improve the quality and efficiency of the city of Houston's water and wastewater operations, died of cardiac arrest April 19 in a Houston hospital. He was 46.
"Because of his efforts, there hasn't been a water rate increase in the city since 1993," said Fred Perrenot, director of the city's public utilities from 1990 until 1999.
"He had the courage in a big bureaucracy to persist in change when the bureaucracy didn't want to change," Perrenot said. "His job was to be a dreamer and to find ways of making things better, to find how we can make things cheaper and of higher quality."
He credited Dobrolski with helping develop the city Public Works Department's Leadership Institute.
This goal of this effort, Dobrolski once said, was to "change the culture of the city of Houston's Public Utility Division by instilling new leadership concepts. The project resulted in 160 managers being coached in innovative ideas, communication and organization development."
Dobrolski helped the department to emulate the work methods of the private sector and to improve reliability and maintenance of the system, Perrenot said.
Dobrolski also co-authored four books dealing with problems in water quality, administering contract work and becoming competitive in water and wastewater management.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Dobrolski graduated from Power Memorial Academy in New York City, where he excelled in track and field sports.
He came to Houston to attend the University of Houston, where he earned a degree in civil engineering and a master's in public education while working for the city.