Water Professionals Help Devise Wastewater Operator Apprenticeship Program Framework

Water professionals participate in a workshop to discuss basic operator education requirements. WEF photo/Christine Radke

Water professionals participate in a workshop to discuss basic operator education requirements. WEF photo/Christine Radke.

Water professionals (including operators, engineers, and academics) convened June 2–3 at a Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.) workshop in St. Louis to take action on one of the major outcomes from the Operator Certification and Training Summit held last summer.

Wastewater treatment operator certification and training requirements vary greatly among states. So, at the workshop, 30 attending experts with various backgrounds discussed specific requirements for a national standard detailing minimum body of knowledge requirements for basic-level operator education.

Workshop pariticipants discuss what operators need to know to collect and treat wastewater. WEF photo/Radke

Workshop pariticipants discuss what operators need to know to collect and treat wastewater. WEF photo/Radke.

Participants were asked to think about what operators need to know to collect and treat wastewater as safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively as possible. They broke into five work groups to discuss national apprenticeship standards, including necessary work processes, instruction, and advanced operator training curricula needed in the topic areas of collection systems, activated sludge, and anaerobic digestion.

“It is time to bring attention to the wastewater operator and his/her invaluable status within the working world,” said John Seldon, owner of Temporary Operations & Maintenance Inc. (Port Burwell, Ontario) who attendeed the workshop. “The field itself must be highlighted within the general working community as one worth pursuing. We must now actively seek out individuals who wish to make wastewater treatment a first choice of career and provide the educational means to qualify them … for their career of choice.”

Attendees specified items to be included in the framework of a nationally recognized wastewater operator apprenticeship program. Details for this program were used to create the “Wastewater Operator Apprenticeship — Work Processes” and “Wastewater Operator Apprenticeship —Related Instruction” documents. They will be included in the apprenticeship program application that will be submitted to the U.S Department of Labor. The goal is to have a new operator apprenticeship program approved later this year.

Attendees also recommended

  • updating wastewater treatment terminology;
  • designing resources for the specific operator audience, requiring Instructional System Designers to develop educational modules;
  • developing materials for specific outcomes, such as distinguishing between earning academic credits versus certification;
  • offering delivery methods accessible and familiar to the next generation of operators, such as using simulations or mobile apps; and
  • recruiting those interested and passionate about working in the wastewater sector.
Workshop attendees also determined requirements for a wastewater operator apprentinship program. WEF photo/Radke

Workshop attendees also determined requirements for a wastewater operator apprentinship program. WEF photo/Radke.

Information identified during workshop discussion also was used to create several documents, including “Curriculum Components for a Collection Systems Training Program,” “Preliminary Curriculum Components for an Activated Sludge Training Program,” and “Preliminary Curriculum Components for an Anaerobic Digestion Training Program.” These documents can be used to develop training curricula in the future.

Read about last year’s Operator Summit in the September 2011 Highlights article “Water Treatment Professionals Gather To Give Operator Profession Direction” and WE&T article “WEF addresses certification, training issues.”

Jennifer Fulcher, WEF Highlights

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
, , , , ,

Comments are closed.