EPA Hosts Water Workforce Webinar

Join EPA HQ and water operators in Idaho to learn more about the tools supporting water system operators in their role of protecting public health.  Register today for Supporting the Water Workforce: Tools for Water System Operators:  The Knowledge Retention Tool and Electronic Preventive Maintenance Logs

DATE:              Thursday, March 1, 2018

TIME:               2:00-3:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      Click here

Whether managing regular system maintenance, preparing for personnel transition, or entering into a partnership with a neighboring system, operators can benefit from incorporating these tools into their system’s management. Presenters from Idaho will share their first-hand experiences using the tools and highlight key features.  Please share this opportunity with your systems, assistance providers, and other state personnel with an interest in workforce issues.

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EFCN Hosts Two New Webinars

Our colleagues from EFCN’s Syracuse and Wichita State Universities are hosting two webinars this month that should be of interest to you.

Resiliency Planning 101

DATE:              February 13

TIME:               2:30-3:30PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      Click this link Register

This webinar will offer definitions of community and utility resiliency in the context of disaster preparedness, recovery, and proactive planning measures. Resiliency enables communities and utilities to remain economically and socially viable in the face of extreme weather or economic events.  This event is hosted by the Syracuse University Environmental Finance Center

What Challenges Do Different Sizes & Types of Systems Face?

DATE:              February 27

TIME:               2:30-3:30PM (eastern)

Register           Click this link Register

This webinar will address the challenges of delivering safe, potable water to communities of varying size and the differences and similarities of management challenges that both small and large systems face.  This event is hosted by the Wichita State University Environmental Finance Center.

GAO Releases Water Workforce Report

Earlier today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report titled Water and Wastewater Workforce: Recruiting Approached Helped Industry Hire Operators, but Additional EPA Guidance Could Help Identify Future Needs (GAO-18-102).  The study, reviewing workforce needs within the drinking water and wastewater industry, was requested by the Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.

As the Report’s Highlights document states, “This report describes (1) what is known about workforce needs at water utilities compared with workforce needs nationwide and effects of potential unmet workforce needs on the utilities’ compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act; (2) approaches used by selected utilities to manage their workforce needs and challenges they have faced in managing those needs; and (3) ways in which federal programs can assist water utilities with workforce needs.”

In summary, “GAO recommends that EPA add strategic workforce planning questions, such as the positions and skills needed in the future, to its inspection guidance documents. EPA generally agreed with GAO’s recommendation as it related to drinking water, but neither agreed nor disagreed regarding wastewater. GAO believes the entire recommendation should be implemented.”

A complete copy of the Report may be downloaded here.

ABC Brings Certification Professionals Together

Last week, despite unexpected cold and ice, more than 100 certification professionals gathered in San Antonio to participate in the ABC National Conference.  Titled ABC Innovation in Certification 2018, the Conference provided attendees from state drinking water and wastewater programs, tribal certification organizations, and Canadian and other international interested parties an opportunity to interact with their peers and discuss a range of issues and initiatives.

Presentations and discussions ranged across topics such as the legal aspects of certification, setting the certification standard, tech tools for the certification process, and workforce challenges and solutions.  Participants also heard from EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water about ongoing projects and from AWWA about upcoming projects and priorities for 2018.

Some of the more interesting discussions looked at drivers for good certification programs – coordinate with trainers, review deficiencies, communicate with stakeholders, and play a leadership role.  Discussions also focused on root causes for operator shortages and noted that, in many locations, the shortage relates more to operator retention rather than a lack of available operators.  Of course, an aging workforce also plays a large role in the shortage scenario.  Another discussion centered around drivers for certification standards.  John Solvie, ABC’s C2EP Chair, noted that standards are not developed in a vacuum but rather that significant influencers are regulators, legislators, and industry organizations.  Joe McClary of IACET spoke to participants about the need to make data driven solutions.  He also suggested that certification programs should create a quality of service benchmark; ask for feedback from the operator community; and then act on that feedback to make improvements.

ABC plans to post presentations from the Conference within the next few weeks at www.abccert.org.  Next year’s ABC Conference is planned for January 8-11 in Savannah, GA.

NRWA’s New Workforce Apprenticeship Program

Last November, ASDWA attended the formal signing of an agreement between NRWA and the US Department of Labor to launch and support a workforce apprenticeship program.  That agreement reflects nearly two years of effort culminating in the National Guidelines for Apprenticeship Standards for Water and Wastewater System Operations Specialists.

The program supports a two-year registered apprenticeship.  Participants, or apprentices, are placed at a water utility where they receive 4,000 hours of on the job training and an additional 288 hours of training and instruction by state rural water association staff.  Thus far, the Alliance of Indiana Rural Water has developed a program, submitted and received approval from the Department of Labor, and is the first state to have a Registered Apprenticeship Program using the jointly developed national standards.

For more information on this effort, please contact your state’s rural water association.  To read more about the program, please visit the NRWA website https://nrwa.org/ and click on the magazine link under the “News and Media” tab.

One AWWA Operator Scholarship

Our colleagues at WaterOperator.org frequently find interesting information to share.  In their most recent (August 18) newsletter, they write about a scholarship opportunity for water system operators available through AWWA sections.  See below for the article…

The One AWWA Operator Scholarship is a partnership between AWWA and its sections to address the need for present and future operators.  This scholarship allows each section to provide educational and training scholarships for operators. These can be used for water-related associate degrees, technical school programs, professional training programs, books, manuals and operator-focused conferences.

The Scholarship will be awarded at the section-level using each individual section’s application, criteria and deadlines. Many sections already offer scholarships, and the One AWWA Operator Scholarship will simply follow existing processes. Want to find out more? Contact Michelle Hektor at AWWA.

Thanks to WaterOperator.org for sharing such useful information!

EFCN & AWWA Offer Two New Webinars for July

Telling Your Water Story

DATE:              Tuesday, July 18

TIME:               2:00-3:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/7226104048161113345

What makes an effective story?  Why is story important to moving your audience and how does it trigger action?  Facts alone do not change people’s minds.  Learn how to use story to engage your stakeholders and gather their support for critical infrastructure issues.

Messaging Water to Your Stakeholders

DATE:              Thursday, July 20

TIME:               2:00-3:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6631323233115709441

Why do some water infrastructure efforts fail and others succeed?  Do your stakeholders perceive your projects as a cost or benefit?  This webinar is designed to help participants understand and use the concept of messaging to motivate stakeholders to support water infrastructure improvements, rate increases, and other hard to sell projects.

ABC Tests New Exam

Our colleagues at the Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) are sharing information about their new standardized exams for water treatment, wastewater treatment, collection, and distribution operator certification.  The new exams will not include any regulations-based content.  States may opt for a separate program-specific module.  Although the operator will view it as a single testing experience, it will be a separate test with separate scoring.  ABC is piloting the new test now and hopes to have results by the end of the summer.

For details on the new testing protocol, an explanation of the rationale behind the change, and more information on testing options and scoring, please click this link to read the ABC letter.  Letter to Industry on Pilot and Standardized exams  Questions should be directed to ABC at abc@abccert.org

 

 

 

RTCR Webinar Training for States and EPA Regions

EPA has heard about the RTCR issue related to the number of repetitive triggers that a water system can encounter.  To explore this and other common RTCR implementation issues, EPA will host a webinar on June 22.  See below for details:

 

Title US EPA Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) Training — State Approaches to Managing Multiple Treatment Technique Trigger Events
Date and Time June 22, 2017 (2:00 pm-3:00 pm ET)
Audience States and US EPA Regions.  Technical Assistant Providers are welcome to register.
Short Description/ Objective Three States will present their approaches, tools, challenges and lessons-learned for managing multiple treatment technique (TT) trigger events that have occurred among PWSs over a 12-rolling month period.  Register to learn:

·State determination of the appropriate type of assessment (i.e. Level 1/Level 2);

·State management of increased monitoring due to multiple TT-triggers;

·State process for communication and outreach to the PWS;

·State mechanisms/tools used to communicate and track.

CEU/Certifications? None provided by US EPA
Registration Link http://login.icohere.com/registration/register.cfm?reg=3756&evt=062217

 

EPA Sustainable Systems Team Shares Tabletop Exercise

EPA’s Sustainable Systems Team has developed a Tabletop Exercise and Facilitators Guide that states and assistance providers may want to use on their own.  The Sustainable Systems Team has worked through this Exercise a couple of times at National and Regional workshops and the response has been very positive.

The Exercise assigns roles for a variety of state programs and works through a project list that needs input from each of the respective roleplayers.  Projects are prioritized and funding, compliance, and/or assistance decisions are made based on that input.  As noted in the provided materials, the purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate that a better understanding of other state roles, increased communication, and collaboration among different roles, will result in better, more holistic, PWS assistance.  Here’s the link to the Exercise and Facilitator’s Guide:  https://www.epa.gov/dwcapacity/table-top-exercise-collaborating-across-state-drinking-water-programs-support-sustainable