Over the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic has underscored water professionals’ role as protectors of public health, and we’ve seen their extraordinary skill and knowledge in action.This unprecedented moment is an urgent reminder of how much the health and safety of communities around the world rely on the expertise of water professionals.I want to particularly highlight operators, whose work is often out of sight for most, but never out of mind for WEF.

Operators play a crucial role in providing clean water and it is critical for them to keep up with the latest technical information and education. WEF is constantly working to make sure we are providing the most up-to-date, comprehensive resources. Despite changing learning environments, certification requirements and regulations, water professionals will always need reliable information to expand their knowledge base.
I am excited to announce that an updated version of WEF’s Skills Builder is available for operators to use to continue to refresh their knowledge. We’ve built on what was an already rich resource to make it even better. Here are a few things you’ll notice:

• Quiz questions contained in fewer screens
• Updated design with easier-to-read text
• Site compatibility with mobile devices

To remain consistent with certifying bodies, all answers to Skills Builder questions follow the standard ABC format. There are no negative question stems (e.g., “which of the following is NOT true”) and no “all of the above” or ”none of the above” answer options. All of the questions are related to ABC need-to-know criteria. We’ve also included references to each question so you can go back and further your study. The prompts will even guide you to the specific chapter of the book the question references, whether it’s Wastewater Treatment Fundamentals, Operation of Water Resource Recovery Facilities (MOP 11) or Activated Sludge and Nutrient Removal (MOP OM-9).

The topics in the Skills Builder quizzes cover the range of the knowledge operators must have to keep facilities running, from activated sludge to wastewater characteristics. You can adjust the quizzes for your skill level (Fundamental, Intermediate or Advanced) and whether you’d like to test your Wastewater or Laboratory knowledge. Each 10-question quiz takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete and you’ll have a chance to review and correct answers before submitting.

A group of dedicated WEF volunteers led the effort to update Skills Builder and will continue to maintain it. I want to thank them for their willingness to give their time and energy to supporting our operators. This group of experts has more than 100 years of combined experience in operations and will be adding more to the Skills Builder question bank each month, so be sure to check back frequently to sharpen your skills!

For the past 15 years, Skills Builder has consistently been a popular resource among operators, and I hope you’ll continue to look to the site as an important part of your continued learning. You can take the test—which is free to everyone— by visiting wef.org/skillsbuilder.

Jackie Jarrell P.E.

2019-20 WEF President Jackie Jarrell, P.E.Jackie Jarrell, P.E., is the 2019-20 president of the Water Environment Federation (WEF), an international organization of water quality professionals headquartered in Alexandria, Va.

Jackie has been with Charlotte Water for more than 29 years. As wastewater operations chief she has been responsible for wastewater operations with total permitted capacity of 123 million gallons per day (MGD), with the largest plant permitted at 64MGD, the related residuals program producing more than 90,000 wet tons/year, oversight of regulatory functions, process control, and continuous improvement programs within the operations areas.

Recently, Jackie was appointed as an interim deputy director for Charlotte Water. This has expanded her role to oversee customer service, communications, industrial pretreatment, laboratory services, and the Industrial Pretreatment Program, with more than 60 significant industrial users.

As a WEF member, Jackie has held multiple leadership and committee roles, including serving as the chair of the Utility Management Program Symposia and the first vice chair of the Utility Management Committee.

Also an active member of the North Carolina Water Environment Association (NCWEA), Jackie served as the MA chair in 2013. At that time, she lead the MA in developing NCWEA's strategic plan in 2013. Over many years volunteering for NCWEA, she chaired several committees including the Nominating Committee, the Public Education Committee, the Annual Conference Committee, and the Program Committee. She also worked on several committees such as Water for People (including a trip to Bolivia in 2011), the Wastewater Schools Committee, the Endowment Committee, and the Plant Operations Committee.

She is actively involved with the North Carolina Water Quality Association, a regulatory advocacy organization of utilities in North Carolina, and is a past chair and a current board member.

Jackie is a registered professional engineer in the state of North Carolina and holds a Biological Wastewater Grade II OIT. She received a B.S. in engineering from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. She is a member of the NC 5S.  Jackie is the 2014 recipient of the Arthur Sidney Bedell Award. In 2015, Jackie, along with her colleagues, was awarded the Gascoigne Wastewater Treatment Plant Operational Improvement Medal.

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