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WaterOperator.org Blog

Articles in support of small community water and wastewater operators.


Jill Wallitschek
Jill Wallitschek
Jill Wallitschek's Blog

Featured Video: Lift Station 2 Pump Cleaning

Featured Video: Lift Station 2 Pump Cleaning

Lift stations are designed to move sewage from a lower to higher elevation through pumps and pipes. Once pumped to a higher elevation, sewage continues to move through the collection system via gravity to reach the wastewater treatment plant. Utilities typically install one of two types of lift stations. Submersible pump lift stations, also called wet well lift stations, contain the pumps, sewage, and floats all in one vault. Dry well lift stations use two vaults to separate the pump system and wastewater. To learn more about lift station operations, components, sizing calculations, inspections, maintenance, emergency response, and pump selection for both types, check out the U.S. EPA’s Wastewater Utility Operation and Management for Small Communities – Lift Station Overview webcast recording.

Learning the theory behind lift station operations, maintenance, and emergency response is an essential component to any wastewater operator’s training, however hands-on experience is also important. While we can’t give you hands on experience in a blog post, the following video offers a real world example of lift station maintenance. In this video, a Minnesota operator demonstrates how to remove debris from a clogged pump at his facility’s lift station. He also overviews the various components on the lift station control panel. Please note that when troubleshooting lift stations you should first be trained in operator safety. Safety topics to review before working with lift stations include lock out tag out, confined space, electrical safety, fall protection, crane safety, and tail gate safety.

Increasing Attention to Significant Noncompliance Dischargers

Increasing Attention to Significant Noncompliance Dischargers

WaterOperator.org would like to thank EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance for helping develop this blog post as part of its outreach to permittees about the Clean Water Act National Compliance Initiative.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit compliance protects public health and the environment from the release of harmful contaminants. During FY 2018 approximately 20% of the nation's 46,000 permit holders were in significant non-compliance (SNC) violations. SNCs are designated as serious violations warranting enforcement response if not promptly resolved. These violations ranged from significant exceedances in effluent limits to reporting failures. To better defend environmental and public health, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has initiated a National Compliance Initiative (NCI) for NPDES permits and, in September, released a Compliance Advisory.

The NCI uses a full range of compliance assurance tools to reduce NPDES permittees non-compliance. By FY 2022 the NCI aims to reduce SNC rates by half. Small systems, this includes you too! This NCI will target facilities of all sizes equally. More attention will be directed toward facilities approaching or already in SNC. Facilities failing to comply can be subject to increased monitoring, inspections, enforcement actions, and other compliance activities. The NCI notes that permittees that voluntarily disclose and correct violations may be eligible for a reduction or elimination of penalties.

While this initiative might feel intimidating, the NCI offers resources to those taking immediate compliance efforts. The EPA recommends permittees first assess compliance by reviewing discharge monitoring reports (DMRs) and the Enforcement & Compliance History Online (ECHO) tool. If your facility does require assistance, reach out to your NPDES permitting authority for assistance. Other organizations like Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) and National Rural Water Association (NRWA) may also be able to provide assistance. Each state implements their own NPDES programs with the exception of New Mexico, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and areas within Indian Country which are managed federally.

Small system SNCs can originate from a variety of causes. Failure to monitor, analyze, and report wastewater samples according to your NPDES permit can lead to a violation. Alternatively, incomplete or inaccurate compliance data transferred from state systems to the EPA’s Integrated Compliance Information System (ICIS) system can result in inaccurate identification of SNC permittees. Checking your compliance status in ECHO can prevent these complications. In addition to monitoring and reporting violations, unplanned discharges such as from a sanitary sewer overflow can also result in SNC. When wastewater effluent exceeds NPDES pollutant levels, utilities will also fall out of compliance. These exceedances typically arise as a result of operational, design, or administrative issues. We recommend the following resources to help improve your NPDES compliance:

Activated Sludge Process Control and Troubleshooting Methodology
Resolve 95% of your activated sludge process control issues using this Ohio EPA manual.

EPA’s ECHO Electronic Tool
The ECHO Detailed Facility Report tool helps facilities monitor compliance and verify the cause of SNC. Learn how to use the tool through the “Intro to ECHO Webinar” and other materials on this webpage.

EPA Webinars: Technical Assistance for Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs)
The EPA hosts free webinars once a month offering technical assistance to POTWs. Find these webinars on our national training calendar or at the link above.

Managing Small Domestic Wastewater Systems
This TCEQ guide helps utilities develop plans to maintain or achieve compliance. The guide includes compliance checklists and planning worksheets. For additional assistance, TCEQ has developed and referenced resources for troubleshooting anything from bacteria control to process control.

Why Is My Lagoon Not Meeting Effluent Limits?
This article from the November 2016 issue of The Kansas Lifeline summarizes how to troubleshoot lagoon effluent compliance issues.

To find solutions to more specific compliance challenges, check out the WaterOperator.org resource library and small systems blog posts.

Featured Video: Why Are 96,000,000 Black Balls on This Reservoir?

Featured Video: Why Are 96,000,000 Black Balls on This Reservoir?

In 2015 the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power went viral when it unleashed 96 million shade balls into the Los Angeles Reservoir. The 175 acre reservoir served to store 3.3 billion gallons of treated drinking water. Shade balls were previously introduced to three other reservoirs in the LA area between 2008 and 2012. Releasing the 96 million balls marked the end of a 8 year project.

The project was first instigated when the Department of Water and Power was notified of high bromate levels in their water. Bromate (BrO3) is a disinfection byproduct regulated at 0.01 mg/L. High levels can increase risk of cancer. The chemical forms when bromide (Br ), an otherwise harmless ion, reacts with ozone (O3). For this reason treatment plants that use ozone are required to monitor for bromate monthly. Qualifying plants can reduce their monitoring to quarterly.

The LA Department of Water and Power determined that while they were finding low levels at the treatment facility, levels were elevated at the reservoirs. Upon investigation the facility realized that bromate can form under chlorination as well. When chlorinated water containing bromide reacts with sunlight, it forms bromate at even higher concentrations than ozonation. This realization prompted the facility to look toward a solution.

Removing the naturally occurring bromide wasn’t an option. Chlorination residual was necessary to protect public health. Ultimately the Department determined that sunlight was the only variable left to control.

After brainstorming for affordable and effective covers that could block sunlight across 175 acres, the Department discovered a product called “bird balls”. At the time, bird balls were used to deter waterfowl from swimming in contaminated water bodies or ponds near airport runways. These balls were made from high density polyethylene, a floatable, food grade plastic. The addition of carbon black gives them a black color and increases their life expectancy to approximately 10 years without sun bleaching. After consulting the manufacture, the balls were put through a small-scale test to access their bromate reduction abilites. The shade balls passed with flying colors.

Shade balls not only reduce bromate formation in the reservoir, but they deter birds, control algae, and reduce evaporation by 80 to 90%. Having been implemented under historical drought conditions, the innovation was applauded for its water saving results. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology these shade balls will have to be used for roughly 2.5 years to compensate for the water required to produce them. Since less chlorine is required to control algae formation with the adoption of shade balls, the treatment facility is experiencing significant cost savings as well. Over the course of their life span the reduction in chlorine use and evaporation will have paid for roughly half the shade balls.

Shortly after their installation, one of the reservoirs was removed from service and two of the remaining reservoirs transitioned to floating covers. Federal law requires that all drinking water bodies open to the air be covered. Transitioning the final Los Angeles Reservoir would have been too cost prohibitive based on its size. So given the effectiveness of the shade balls in such a large area, they shall remain in the Los Angeles Reservoir to prevent bromate formation, evaporation, and algae for the Los Angeles people.

Best Practices for In-Person Training During COVID-19

Best Practices for In-Person Training During COVID-19

To provide operators with continuing education opportunities during the pandemic, many training providers have adapted their classes to virtual training. These efforts have resulted in new online training opportunities and have allowed operators to earn their much-needed continuing education credits. Despite these efforts, not all training topics can be offered in an online format to all operators. Some training topics require equipment demonstrations and hands-on practice. In addition, some operators have limited internet access or may find it difficult to learn in an online setting.

For these reasons and others, some training providers have returned to an in-person training format. In this post, we have summarized COVID-19 safety trends our staff have observed from training providers as they resume in-person training. Using these trends, as well as CDC guidelines, we have provided a compiled set of recommendations to protect operators registered for in-person training.

Looking through training registration webpages and memos posted regarding the resumption of in-person training, the bulk of training providers have noted that they intend to follow local, state, and federal safety guidelines during class and in preparation of the class. This generally includes social distancing, the requirement of masks, and a restriction on the number of registrants per class. Many providers will also require students to fill out a COVID-19 screening checklist as well. Training providers of colleges or areas with higher infection rates trended to have stricter and more detailed guidelines. Classes developed around the use of hands-on equipment such as backflow prevention workshops, developed specific guidelines for how equipment will be maintained during the course.

The most thorough training providers include safety information about instructor requirements, student requirements, and facility requirements. Some of these trainers designated their own hotline to report cases or ask additional questions about COVID safety.

Based on our review of these recommendations, we have put together “best of” guidelines that training providers can use to protect their operators.

Classroom Preparation:

  • Training will follow federal, state, and local guidelines
  • Prepare the facility according to CDC Facility Disinfection guidelines
  • All employees should be trained and certified on personal hygiene and surface sanitation/ disinfection procedures. See the Disinfecting Your Facility guidance by the CDC.
  • Instructors are to remain at least 6 feet away from students
  • Set up the chairs or workstations no less than 6 feet apart
  • Provide hand sanitation stations throughout training facility
  • Place posters in popular areas that encourage hand hygiene
  • Specify entrances and exits through signs or floor tape
  • Ensure that the check-in table provides a notice to:
    • Require mask use and proper hand hygiene
    • Inform of hand sanitizer stations
    • Prohibit handshakes, encouraging other noncontact greetings
    • Direct employees to visit the CDC’s coughing/sneezing etiquette and clean hands webpage
    • Inform guests of specified entrances and exits visible for the use of classes
    • Request students fill out pre-screening questions
  • Training will be rescheduled or moved if the host site experiences an active COVID-19 case within the 2 weeks of class

Classroom Maintenance:

  • Disinfect common surfaces (doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, classroom tables, chairs, etc.) before class, once mid-morning, once mid-afternoon, and after students leave for the day
  • Limit bathroom use to one or two people at a time to maintain social distancing
  • Suspend food consumption or drinks inside classroom
  • Suspend food service or offer pre-boxed meals during breaks
  • Require students eat outside or in designated areas set up for social distancing.

Student Requirements:

  • Students should be directed to review safety requirements and pre-screening questions prior to the training
  • Upon arrival Students should be directed to fill out a liability waiver acknowledging the measures taken by the training provider to prevent the spread of COVID-19, their compliance, and who should be held liable if illness occurs. An excellent example of this waiver was developed and used Arkansas Rural Water Association. Such waivers can require that:
    • Students must wear a mask according to CDC guidelines
    • Additional PPE, including protective gloves, may be required during certain tasks
    • Students must follow social distancing guidelines to maintain 6 feet of distance between the instructor and other students
    • Students will wash hands frequently for 20 seconds avoiding contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth
    • Students follow appropriate coughing etiquette
    • Students must refrain from eating or drinking in the classroom
    • Students will adhere to all safety guidelines set by training provider
  • Upon arrival Students should read and sign a prescreening questionnaire that certifies:
    • I am not experiencing any symptom of illness such as cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell
    • I have not traveled internationally or out of state within the last 14 days
    • To my knowledge, I have not been exposed to someone with a suspected and/or confirmed COVID-19 case in the last 14 days
    • I have not tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • If resources provide, students will have their temperature checked before entrance. Students with temperatures above 100ºF will be denied.
  • Students should bring their own writing utensil, books, paper, and calculator. No sharing is permitted.
  • If diagnosed with COVID-19 or exhibiting symptoms within 2 weeks of the training or if exposed to COVID-19 during the training, students must notify the training provider

Equipment Expectations:

  • Instructors observing student(s) must remain 6 feet away from the testing station and student
  • When hands on equipment is used, attendees will get their own piece of equipment that stays in class
  • Each cart and testing station will be routinely cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected before the start of class and after each session
  • All tools and test kits will be routinely cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected before the start of class and after each student has complete

While continued training opportunities are important, the health of our essential workers must be priority. WaterOperator.org hopes that all training facilities offering in-person classes are taking every possible to protect their students.

A note to our operators: If you’re looking to attend an in-person training, investigate the training provider safety measures before registration. If these measures aren’t available online, it’s always best to call ahead. WaterOperator.org lists live, online and in-person training opportunities in our national training calendar.

Preventing & Responding to Security Threats

Preventing & Responding to Security Threats

Facility and infrastructural security are an important component of any emergency response plan. Whether the outcome can result in vandalism, theft, terrorism, or a threat to staff or community safety, suspicious activity should always be taken seriously. When the city of Woodland Hills was alerted of trespassing at their water storage tank, the utility promptly issued a boil order until they could confirm that their water was safe to drink. These actions prevented any potential harm due to contamination leaving community members safe and reassured that their utility was taking an active role in water security. Evaluating risk to malevolent acts will allow your system to initiate or upgrade preventive measures and develop an appropriate response plan to protect staff and the community.

To prevent malevolent acts, start by taking an assessment of your facility’s vulnerabilities. Consider entry points, security code accessibility, chemical tanks, storage tanks, vehicles, utility equipment, hazardous chemicals, and infrastructure within the distribution or collection system. Infrastructure essential to operations and limited in redundancy or identified to be at greater risk to malevolent acts may require more meticulous security measures. To assess physical security threats, check out the Security Vulnerability Self-Assessment Guide for Small Drinking water Systems.

The goal in a vulnerability assessment is to determine where prevention measures can be implemented and develop a response plan to suspicious activity.  According to the Minnesota Department of Health, many facilities increase security by locking entry points, using external lighting, posting warning signs, requesting law enforcement patrol, fencing in critical infrastructure, or installing motion sensors, alarm systems, and video cameras. Once all preventive measures have been taken, develop a response protocol for each potential threat. The Association of State Drinking Water Administrators has developed response guidelines for security violations. In each response scenario, utilities should plan for how they can maintain internal, interagency, and external communication.

Utilities should practice emergency response exercises regularly and keep track of necessary changes to response protocols. During these exercises reserve time to monitor which staff have access to key entry points at the utility. Successful security programs will also build and maintain a close relationship with local law enforcement. This relationship will allow utilities to respond swiftly and efficiently in coordination with law enforcement when suspicious activity does occur.

Remember that final goal of these measures is to prevent any interruption in services, damage to infrastructure, and safety threats to staff and the community. For more information on Malevolent Acts check out the EPA’s Baseline Information on Malevolent Acts for Community Water Systems.

How to Find Free Webinars on WaterOperator.org

How to Find Free Webinars on WaterOperator.org

Our staff at WaterOperator.org work hard to make sure operators can easily find all potential training opportunities for their water or wastewater operator certification using our national training calendar. This calendar currently links to over 11,000 events each year, all of which are pre-approved for operator continuing education credits and many which are free. Whether it’s a training hosted by your primacy agency, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, a subsection of the American Water Works Association, or another local training provider, we strive to list them all.

Given the increased demand for virtual training opportunities, we’ve recently created a tutorial to help you optimize your search for live, online training. We hope that this video will help you to more easily meet the training requirements under your certification.

Please note, that these opportunities all have a time and date associated with their registration. We do not list on-demand training in our calendar. If you require assistance searching for pre-approved, on-demand training opportunities, please email us at info@wateroperator.org.

Inspiring the Future of Women in Wastewater

Inspiring the Future of Women in Wastewater

Editor's Note: We would like to thank NYC Environmental Protection for permission to use this photo.

Despite such worthwhile career prospects, in 2018 women made up only 5.8%  of water and wastewater operators according to statistics by the U.S. Census Bureau. As the water workforce ages and experienced operators retire, the water and wastewater industry can benefit by recruiting more women into the field. Mutually so, inquisitive women with interests in protecting public health and sustaining our environment have much to receive from the opportunities available within the industry.

In the field of wastewater treatment specifically, professionals can exercise their curiosity in the sciences while building technical and mechanical skills. The wastewater operator career not only offers extensive opportunity for growth and advancement, but starting positions often pay well, sustain job security, and will provide on-the-job training. The duties of an operator are an essential public service that require knowledge of wastewater safety, math, chemistry, microbiology, treatment processes, and utility operations and maintenance. Those with a penchant for problem solving and mechanical skills will fare well in the field. Other skills women can develop as a wastewater operator involve communication, presentation, collaboration, and eventually, management.

In the Empowering Women Podcast, Christen Wood, wastewater operations administrator of Summit County Department Sanitary Sewer Services and three time participant of WEFTEC’s operations challenge (with two of her teams making it all the way to nationals), describes the “happy accidents” that allowed her to stumble upon the field. She explains why she continues to hold such passion for her position noting that work as a wastewater operator is a career path, not a job. Listen to Christen’s interview to get a better idea about the type of tasks involved in the day to day work of an operator and the significance of those tasks in public and environmental health.

Still not convinced? NYC Water offers an excellent summary of the benefits a wastewater career will offer to women interested in the field. If you get anything out of this video, we hope its that you start to consider how you can fit into the wastewater industry! Find more information about the experience of women in the water industry at the Words on Water Podcast’s Inspiring Women in Water podcast series. The same podcast produced a separate interview with Mel Butcher, an engineering consultant at Arcadis. Her interview discusses how challenges that women do face as minorities in the industry can be overcome through honest conversation. 

Workforce diversity leads to new ideas, innovation, and progress. Consider how you can bring your skills to wastewater treatment.

AWWA & RCAP Release AWIA Small Systems E-Training

AWWA & RCAP Release AWIA Small Systems E-Training

The America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) was signed into law in October 2018, requiring drinking water systems serving more than 3,300 people to develop or update risk and resilience assessments (RRA) and emergency response plans (ERP) within the deadlines determined by system size. With this Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed guidance documents to help systems comply with these new requirements. These resources include a qualitative RRA Checklist specifically designed for small systems as well as an ERP template. The purpose of these materials is to help systems achieve the minimum compliance under AWIA Section 2013.

To complement these small system resources, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) have partnered to build a free e-learning program with funding from the U.S. EPA. The on-demand training condenses ANSI/AWWA standards for security, risk management, and resilience as well as the AWWA’s Risk and Resilience Certification Program to help systems comply with AWIA. This new AWIA Small Systems Certificate Program contains four courses:

  • Introduction to Resiliency and America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (EL272)
  • Operational Measures for Resiliency (EL273)
  • How to Develop a Risk and Resilience Assessment (EL274)
  • How to Develop a Small System Emergency Response Plan (EL275)
  • Bonus: Cybersecurity (Available late 2020)

Each course (See preview 1/2) features a series of video presentations with regular knowledge checks, a course evaluation, and a final assessment. The modules within the course (See preview 2 /2) are easy to follow and offer an excellent overview of AWIA knowledge requirements. At the end of the training, participants will receive a certificate of completion. CEU approval is available depending on your operator certification agency. See AWWA's credit policy.

The training also includes a separate AWWA/RCAP worksheet that can be used in the field to conduct an RRA. While housed under the AWWA’s resources for small systems, free registration is available to both members and non-members of the AWWA. To access the course participants are required to create or use a (free) AWWA account. We’ve highlighted the steps to create an account as well as how to access the courses. Any of the following screenshots can be enlarged by simply clicking on them to open the image in a new tab.

Creating a Free Account:

  1. At the top right-hand corner of the AWWA website is a link that says Login. Click this link to create a free account.
  2. Turn your attention toward the 'Create New Account' section of the new webpage. Read the Privacy Policy and select ‘I Agree – Create Account’.

    Screenshot of Login Page

  3. Enter your email address in the next page.
    Note: During this step the AWWA will check to see if you’ve already created an existing account with this email. If your account already exists and you’ve forgotten your password, you can perform a password reset.
  4. To continue creating a new account you will want to fill out each field to the best of your abilities. For the address type, you can select Home, Delivery, or Office/USmail.
    If you choose to use your utility address, keep the address type as office/USmail. Enter every field and select ‘Find Company’.
    1. If your utility is already in the database, select the utility name and then Continue.
    2. If your utility is not listed in the results, you will have to manually enter your address by selecting ‘None of the Above’ and Continue.
  5. More fields will appear after entering the address. Entering a phone number is optional, but you will have to choose a secure password. Be sure it is something you will remember or keep it written in a safe place.
  6. Check the agreement box to agree to the Consent Capture statement. This statement grants AWWA permission to collect and store your personal information to maintain your account. Your page should now look close to this:

    Completed Fields for Account Set Up Screenshot

  7. Select Next.
  8. Now your account is active! You can tell that you’re logged in because your name will appear at the very top, right-hand corner of any AWWA webpage.

Accessing the Courses:

  1. Information about the AWIA Small Systems Certificate e-training can be found at the Small Systems webpage. To find this page using the AWWA navigation bar, hover over ‘Professional Development’ and select ‘Small Systems’. Lots of great small system training and resources can be found here!

  2. From this page, scroll down to ‘Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance Training’ heading. Select the tab ‘AWIA Small Systems Certificate Program’. This tab includes the redemption code ‘SMSYS20’ that will be required in the following steps to provide account access to the courses.

    Screen Scot of the Certificate Program Tab

  3. Now make sure you’re logged into the AWWA site and select your name in the top, right-hand corner of the webpage. If your name does not appear in the top navigation then you are not logged in.
  4. A page called ‘My Account’ should be loaded. Now select ‘My Courses’ in the left-hand menu. This will bring you to the AWWA eLearning platform. You might want to bookmark this link for easy course access in the future!

    Screen Scot of the My Courses Link

  5. In this page under 'Small System Course Access', enter the code ‘SMSYS20’ and select Redeem.
  6. Now all free courses available to small systems will be placed in your enrollments. A temporary menu will pop up where you can look through these courses.
    If you close this menu you will be returned to the eLearning home page. By scrolling down you can find the same small system enrollments. These enrollments include the individual courses that make up each small system certificate program. Since this list is not sorted by certificate program, you’ll want to search for each course by the names listed at the beginning of this blog. Start with EL272 and work toward EL275.

Returning to the Course:

  1. Sign in to the AWWA site with your existing account by selecting ‘Login’ in the top, right-hand corner of any AWWA webpage. The username is your email.
  2. Once logged in, select your name in the top, right-hand corner of the page where it used to say Login.
  3. A webpage called ‘My Account’ should be loaded. Now select ‘My Courses’ in the left-hand menu. This will bring you to the AWWA eLearning platform. You might want to bookmark this link for quicker access next time.
  4. Scroll down on the e-learning homepage to access your courses.

We recommend systems check out both the EPA tools as well as the new e-training to decide what worksheets and strategies are best for your utility. Remember that RCAP’s technical assistance providers are available throughout the country to help you achieve AWIA compliance, work through these courses, and even facilitate tabletop exercises for emergency preparedness. For a deeper understanding of AWIA compliance and these small system resources, operators can view the June 10, 2020 webinar recording: Small Systems Guidance for America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.

Promoting Equality and Equity: Resources for the Water Industry

Promoting Equality and Equity: Resources for the Water Industry

Editor's Note: We want to thank NYC Environmental Protection for permission to use their photo in this post.

Our team at WaterOperator.org was pleased to see organizations such as the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), Water Environment Federation (WEF), and the American Water Works Association (AWWA), make public statements in support of the racial justice movement. Our program is committed to promoting and upholding the principles of inclusion in everything we do.

Racial injustice affects all of us — at home, at work, and in our daily societal interactions. Times like these define who we are, shed light on our world view, and, most importantly, are an opportunity to affect change. We all play an important role in developing and maintaining equitable places to work and live. Here are just a few resources that might be helpful as your organization navigates this call to action:

A Water Utility Manager’s Guide to Community Stewardship
Highlighted by David LaFrance, CEO of the American Water Works Association, in his message to the water industry from a Water Online commentary, this manual features a chapter on human resources identifying how to promote welcoming cultures and increase diversity in the workplace.
Host: American Water Works Association

Could This Be What Employees Experience in Your Workplace?
On page 26 of the February 2018 edition of the APWA Reporter, author and operations manager for St. Paul Public Works Department, Beverly Ann Farraher, highlights how public works employee Antione Posey faced racial discrimination in the workplace. The objective of this article is to invigorate readers to consider how they can take positive action to support diversity and inclusivity.
Host: American Public Works Association

U.S. Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism
Featured in a recent WEF Smart Brief, this article outlines ways that industry leaders can support minority employees to feel physically and psychologically safe in their workplace during such difficult times of racial injustice.
Host: Harvard Business Review

Water Equity Clearinghouse
This online database showcases organizations and the practices they implement to make water and wastewater service accessibility more equitable and inclusive.
Host: U.S. Water Alliance

Working Toward the Utility of the Future by Understanding and Addressing Bias
Presented at a 2016 conference hosted by the Pacific Northwest Section AWWA, these slides teach readers how the brain processes information to form subconscious biases.  Water industry professionals will learn how to negate these biases to produce and foster a more innovative and diverse workforce.
Host: Pacific Northwest Section American Water Works Association

Echoed by RCAP CEO Nathan Ohle in his statement on the death of George Floyd, there is more diversity found in rural and tribal communities than most people realize. This diversity is one of the many things that make them so extraordinary. We encourage all systems and the communities that they serve to examine how they can promote diversity and remove any barriers that hinder its livelihood both inside and outside of the workplace.  With that, we will leave you with a quote taken from a Workforce Diversity article by Rachel Gilbert included in the AWWA Journal: 

The concept of Diversity & Inclusion needs to be regarded as a value — not just a program or priority. Priorities change values don’t.”

A Message from Nathan Ohle, RCAP CEO

A Message from Nathan Ohle, RCAP CEO

Editor's Note: WaterOperator.org is proudly funded through a partnership with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP). In this blog post we have highlighted a recent statement by RCAP CEO Nathan Ohle in response to the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed.

Throughout the past few weeks, we have witnessed yet another systemic injustice with the death of George Floyd and the protests that followed. Over four decades, the RCAP Network has always stood for the common good, including a fair and just society that fosters healthy conversations, true collaboration and equitable partnerships. We strive to celebrate and lift the incredibly diverse make up of rural and tribal communities that we see every day through our work.

We do not have all the answers to address the inequity taking place across the country, or yet know what role the RCAP Network can play in this conversation. However, it is clear that we need to create a space for those conversations to take shape, and to elevate the voices of the rural communities that are working collaboratively with people from all walks of life. We work on regionalization and regional collaboration projects across the country, helping to facilitate tough conversations and bridge differences between and among communities. Those tough conversations are critical to ensuring that we create equitable opportunity for all communities.

What we see happening today in America is not just happening in big cities, it lives in communities of all sizes. Everyone wants to feel safe, secure, and valued, but too many people in this country do not.

Rural communities are much more diverse than most people realize. It is the diversity that exists in rural communities that makes them so special. Ensuring that everyone has affordable access to safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater disposal was the founding principal of RCAP, with a specific focus on the most vulnerable populations across the country. As we consider where we can play a role, we are always here to listen, learn and to support important conversations in whatever form they should take. RCAP will continue to focus on creating and lifting up positive stories, encouraging continued collaboration, providing venues for fruitful conversations, and ensuring that rural communities of color have an equitable opportunity.