December 2008, Vol. 20, No.12

From the Editors

Operations Forum Editor’s Note

Showcasing Operations at Home and on the Road

Steve Spicer

Every year Operations Forum covers Operations Challenge. This year, the event, now in its 21st year, included 42 teams from around the nation and the world. We’re able to devote several pages and some online space to the scores, the thoughts of a few participants, and some photos. This year this coverage begins here. But we know we don’t even scratch the surface of what it takes for a team to get to the national competition. We don’t manage to acknowledge every person who contributes to the success of the event, partly because many of those involved would be too humble to step forward.

What we do hope comes through in our coverage is the dedication of the participants, judges, sponsors, coaches, supporters, and all of the others who work to make this event happen. Each Member Association represented at the national competition reflects another competition held sometime last spring or summer. Each team of four represents many additional operators who pitch in extra time and effort back at the plant while the team travels to compete. Each piece of equipment used represents an entire company that donates its products, staff time, and resources to help this event show the skill and precision of the industry. Together, these efforts have brought about one of the highlights of an event that draws nearly 22,000 people. In essence, Operations Challenge is a microcosm of the talent and spirit that keep wastewater treatment plants running smoothly — on competition day and every day.

Meanwhile, the work doesn’t stop. This issue also includes two features that demonstrate how the competition's can-do attitude reveals itself at wastewater treatment plants worldwide. In “Operator Ingenuity,” a trio of operators found a simple, low-cost way of tackling the foaming problem in their sequencing batch reactor; and in “Burning With Biogas,” a much larger group of operators and engineers tackled an in-house project to convert their biosolids incinerator to run on biogas generated from the plant’s anaerobic digesters.

In both cases, as in Operations Challenge, the key to success was assembling the right team, making the best use of the resources available, and working to make a difference.

Steve Spicer, editor
sspicer@wef.org