On Support for Wastewater Operators
By Cordell W. Samuels
June 5, 2013
Now more than ever it’s a great time to be a wastewater operator-- a true hero on the front lines of public health protection. Timing is great because resources and support for the essential work operators do is expanding continually at WEF and improving around the country as I blog.
One big example is the National Guidelines for Wastewater Systems Operator Apprenticeship, adopted late last year by the U.S. Department of Labor. (Click here for the WEF Highlights article for more information.) These important national guidelines for wastewater systems operators establish a clear point of entry into the profession, something that will elevate the profile of this vital occupation. Other results from the national guidelines could include more consistent training and education, and expanded opportunity for reciprocity, where operators who are certified by federal standards in one state could just as easily work in another. The guidelines have been shared with state DOL offices. Pennsylvania WEA has already taken steps to work with the City of Reading and the local DOL to implement the guidelines.
The Wastewater Collection and Treatment Operations Resources Center on the WEF website is also extremely helpful for wastewater operators and others interested in the profession. There you’ll find information for certification, continuing education, and training, plus technical resources and multiple opportunities to connect with peers.
Speaking of connecting with peers, there will be plenty of networking at Collection Systems 2013: Gold Nuggets of Knowledge underway in Sacramento, CA June 9 – 12. Professionals from throughout the collection systems industry attend to learn about improving organization effectiveness as it relates to combined and separate sanitary sewer collection systems. WEF’s Collection Systems Committee is hosting an open technical discussion forum on Tuesday afternoon during the conference to share experiences and lessons learned on topics such as “dealing with flushable wipes”, “keeping FOG out of sewers”, and integrated planning.
As a long-time member and supporter of the wastewater collection systems industry, I am delighted to see such action in this area. Keep an eye out for more related information and innovations in wastewater operations!