Author Archives: Jessica Rozek

North Carolina jobs program fills vacancies, forges careers

Charlotte (N.C.) Water has a fresh approach to finding new utility technicians. That approach is a yearlong apprenticeship program offered by the utility trains recruits in a variety of skills — and even guarantees them a job upon completion.   The program was created to tackle a high turnover and vacancy rate for the city’s utility technician position, which involves water and sewer maintenance. …

Collections Systems Professionals Invent New Tools for Battle Against Non-Flushables

Flushing woven and nonwoven household products – such as wet wipes for restroom use or cosmetic wipes for removing makeup – is a global issue for the wastewater sector. These products are often mislabeled as “flushable” despite their inability to disperse in conventional collections systems. Flushing them can result in costly and messy septic backups, …

CDC Webinar on COVID-19 Vaccination for Water Sector – February 10

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is hosting a series of webinars on COVID-19 vaccination for essential workers, including a webinar specifically for the Water Sector on February 10, 2021. The webinar will provide an overview of vaccine distribution and implementation and briefly cover safety and efficacy. Participants are encouraged to submit any questions they have …

PERL: This gem of an educational partnership is helping build Indiana’s water workforce

While known for top-rated university science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs that are educating the next generation of water professionals, the state of Indiana has a problem: convincing graduating students to stay.   Half of the 2014-to-2016 bachelor’s-level STEM graduates of Purdue University (West Lafayette, Ind.), for example, found employment out of state, according to a study by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.   Such …

SUNY Ulster’s evening training program designed for new and current water professionals

A hundred miles north of New York City, not far from the origin of the 107-year-old Catskills Aqueduct that supplies 40% of the Big Apple’s water, a new generation of professionals is being trained to protect the region’s coveted water resources.   All are students of SUNY Ulster Community College (Stone Ridge, N.Y.). SUNY Ulster launched its new wastewater operator training program in January 2019 to address a looming worker shortage and prepare new and current operators to manage and maintain water resource recovery facilities, according to professional engineer Henry Jaen, the program’s director.   Designed …

Columbia, S.C.’s atypical apprenticeship program is working, and here’s proof

When it rains, it doesn’t always pour. At least not at Columbia, South Carolina’s water resource recovery facility – even after a historic 1,000-year flood in 2015 and the wettest December on record three years later.  “During these periods, we were treating sustained flows that were 25 to 30% above design capacity every single day,” said David Wiman, superintendent for the city’s 60-mgd plant. “And every single day, the plant was well within regulatory limits.”   …

Making Green Stewards

A federal mandate to make massive and costly repairs to stormwater and sewer infrastructure helped create a workforce development program for the future of Kansas City, Mo.  Along with more than 40 other cities nationwide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the early 2000s directed Kansas City to correct issues in its combined sewer system as well as infiltration and inflow issues in its separate sewer system. The combined sewer system covers about …

Roles of the Water Worker

As a new decade dawns, the water sector faces several urgent challenges, according to members of the Water Environment Federation House of Delegates (HOD; WEF, Alexandria, Va.). At WEFTEC 2019 in September, the HOD hosted a debate to examine the most pressing of these challenges. Within this forum, delegates focused their attention on climate change, workforce development, communications, and legislation, respectively. Among these discussions, common challenges emerged related to shifting beliefs, awareness, and perception about the water sector — both internally and externally.  …

Morrisville College Crash Course Prepares New Yorkers for Operator Certification Exams

Located about 48 km (30 mi) southeast of Syracuse, N.Y., Morrisville State College gives students the opportunity to study everything from seahorse conservation to cannabis farming.   But the classes that attract the greatest number of students from across the state to the small agricultural and technological college are those taught at its Environmental Training Center (ETC).   Hundreds of new and experienced water and wastewater professionals travel to the ETC each year to complete the training courses they need to become …