Author Archives: Jessica Rozek

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.  […]

Get to Work! Jobs in Water Protection

Ask 10 different people what kind of jobs there are in water conservation and water protection and they’ll give probably give 11 different titles that are as varied as the country’s lakes and rivers. This is a good time to work in water protection because the global population is growing and, let’s face it, with […]

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 […]

WEF Members Todd Saums and Tom McGrain Aid Bahamas Relief Efforts

Todd Saums and Tom McGrain, who operate and manage water resource recovery facilities for the Northwestern Water and Sewer District (Bowling Green, Ohio) have had a busy year.   Saums and McGrain, members of the Ohio Water Environment Association (OWEA) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.), spent the first several months of 2019 practicing for this year’s Operations Challenge competition. Along with teammates Bryan Martikan, Jared Myers, and coach […]

Celebrating Women in the Water Workforce

Women of Water Summit recognizes female water-sector changemakers Mazars USA (New York City, N.Y.), a financial consultancy active in the water sector, kicked off 2020 by hosting its inaugural Women of Water Summit in Arlington, Va., on Jan. 9. The daylong summit featured industry leaders speaking in nine segments that celebrated outstanding achievements of female water professionals […]