rss

WaterOperator.org Blog

Articles in support of small community water and wastewater operators.

The Best YouTube Channels for Water & Wastewater Operators

The Best YouTube Channels for Water & Wastewater Operators

Whether it’s to troubleshoot a treatment process, practice for a certification exam, or update your facility’s standard operating procedures, working as a small system water or wastewater operator means that you’re always learning something new to get the job done. Our mission at WaterOperator.org is to make sure you can easily find the best resources to manage and maintain your utility and reliably serve your community. A great way to bolster your knowledge at your own convenience is through training videos and webinar recordings. In this week’s blog post, we’d like to highlight our favorite YouTube channels so you can reference them when you need to develop a new skill, practice for a certification exam, or simply learn more about how to manage your system.

Certification:

American Water College
The American Water College features a variety of water and wastewater training videos that teach operators about operator math, treatment processes, operation and maintenance best practices, and utility management.

CAwastewater
This YouTube channel includes several wastewater math training videos for Grade 1 to Grade 5 operators of California.

Wastewater Dan
The training videos by Wastewater Dan teach operators how to calculate anything from annual energy costs to chemical oxygen demand (COD).

TheWaterSifu
Training videos on TheWaterSifu demonstrate water treatment math, laboratory techniques, and skills useful for the water treatment or distribution exam.

Treatment, Operations, and Maintenance:

Aquafix, Inc
The Aquafix YouTube channel hosts webinar recordings on wastewater treatment and process control. Please note that some of these videos may include promotions for Aquafix products.

Lagoons Do It Better
Wastewater operators can find webinar recordings on lagoon treatment and troubleshooting. The channel also features interviews with industry professionals. Please note that some of these videos may include promotional material for industry products.

R.C. Worst & Co., Inc.
On this YouTube channel, operators can learn about the selection and maintenance of valves, joints, switches, pumps, motors, and tanks involved in onsite wastewater treatment systems, packaged pumping systems, drinking water wells, and water treatment. Please note that some of these videos may include promotional material for industry products.

RCAP (Try their Vimeo and their YouTube channels.)
Both RCAP’s Vimeo and Youtube channels feature training videos and webinar recordings pertaining to water and wastewater treatment, operations and maintenance, monitoring, and utility management.

Wastewater Operations Channel
On this YouTube channel, Wastewater Operator Jon Kercher uploads educational videos filmed during the workday at his wastewater treatment facility. Videos range from troubleshooting treatment processes to learning about biosolids.

The Water Research Foundation
The Water Research Foundation includes webinar recordings of utility case studies, water research, and innovative technology.

Waterworks Training
Operators can watch brief training videos that demonstrate the installation and use of pipe fittings, restrainers, saddles, and couplings.

Utility Management:

Environmental Finance Center at UNC-Chapel Hill
This YouTube channel includes training videos and webinar recordings to teach systems how to improve their financial, technical, and managerial practices.

Smart Management for Small Water Systems
Small systems can use these webinar recordings to improve or develop asset management plans, start a capital improvement project, or better understand utility finances.

WaterOperator.org also maintains a YouTube channel of our own so you can find previously recorded webinars, interviews, and playlists that highlight our favorite videos. Check out the playlist Free Webinars for Water/ Wastewater Utilities to find other useful webinar recordings by organizations like the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Getting Started With ArcGIS Story Maps

Getting Started With ArcGIS Story Maps

Interested in a new way to tell your water system stories? Do you want to reach out to a diverse audience using maps and data in order to help them visualize and more completely understand the issues? Then a Story Map might be just the ticket.

In the past year or so, we at WaterOperator.org have collected examples of how ESRI's Story Maps are being used by water utilities, agencies, states and local governments. Here are few of our favorites:

This Story Map from Cobb County, GA answers the age-old question, "Where do we get our drinking water from?"

And this one from Clarkstown, NY uses all sorts of graphics, 3-D visualizations and maps to illustrate how it maintains its vast MS4 stormwater system. 

The USEPA has also been using this new tool to collect case studies and utility stories for its Drought Response and Recovery Project for Water Utilities

The state of California Division of Drinking Water is using Story Maps to present lead sampling results for its public schools, updated monthly to reflect additional samples they receive. 

And here is an example of a tribal Story Map that shows how the Samish Indian Nation is building resilience for the future impact of climate change in Washington State. 

For even more inspiring examples, Esri hosts a website of contest-winning Story Maps and a Gallery of Story Maps using creative approaches and best practices in a wide range of subjects and industries. 

Story Maps are a great way to combine maps with text, images, videos and more to create impactful stories to leverage support for your water system and to communicate effectively with your audience. Story Maps are part of ArcGIS Online, Esri's cloud-based mapping and GIS platform, and you can register for a free ArcGIS public account here.

Ready to get started? The Learn ArcGIS website has this series of three 30-60 minute lessons, and/or you can watch the video below, and/or read this recent blog post on How to Make a Story Map. 

Featured Video: Drought Response and Recovery in the Town of Castine, ME

Featured Video: Drought Response and Recovery in the Town of Castine, ME

This week's featured video tells the story of how  the small town of Castine, ME headed off recent drought and infrastructure challenges - a story that may be adaptable to other small systems nationwide. This video is featured on the USEPA's Drought Response and Recovery StoryMap Project for Water Utilities (ArcGIS) and is included as a case study resource in their recently updated Drought Response and Recovery Guide for Water Utilities guide. 

Featured Video: Providing Sustainable Utility Management Strategies and Resources

Featured Video: Providing Sustainable Utility Management Strategies and Resources

Many rural and small water and wastewater systems throughout the country face considerable management and operational challenges. This week's featured video highlights the benefits of attending a "Workshop in a Box: Sustainable Management of Rural and Small Systems" training to help manage these challenges. The video features people who who attended this training: small system managers, technical assistance providers, workshop participants, and a small town decision-maker. 

Interested in attending this training? An in-person session is scheduled for later this month (9/28) in Logan, West Virginia and will cover, among other things, how to use the Rural and Small Systems Guidebook to Sustainable Utility Management to make system improvements. This material will be also be covered in an USEPA webinar this coming Thursday (9/13) at 2 pm Eastern Time.

Help your utilities provide affordable and dependable water by attending this workshop and make your water systems a community priority.

Citizen Academies Teach About Critical Water & Wastewater Issues

Citizen Academies Teach About Critical Water & Wastewater Issues

While some water systems host open houses or group tours periodically, citizen academies offer a more intensive learning experience for residents. This experience can leverage a deeper understanding, and support, from the local community for the important and often underappreciated work operators do to protect public health. Residents, in turn, get a rare behind-the-scenes opportunity to learn about water and wastewater issues first-hand and experience how a water utility operates in real-time as it overcomes today's challenges.

Citizen academies come in all sizes and shapes. Spartanburg Water in South Carolina hosts a 6-week interactive series at the public library with sessions on source water, water quality and asset management as well as field trips to local plants. In Scottsdale, Arizona, a 5-week course takes participants inside the water facility to view demonstrations of daily operations, lab work and water main repairs. In Indiana, the town of Carmel organizes a Citizens Utility Academy that provides insight into the responsibilities and operations of not only water & wastewater, but also trash, recycling and hazardous waste disposal.

The benefits to water systems are numerous. Citizen academies offer utilities the opportunity to connect with their residents in such a way that these residents become informal ambassadors for the utility. In a sense, this connection creates trust between the utility and citizens. In addition, these academies can inspire residents to volunteer to serve on advisory boards or utility committees, or otherwise serve as a liaison between the public and the utility.

Interested in exploring the possibility of a citizen's academy for your water system? This website from the University of North Carolina School of Government includes a "how-to" program component guide as well as case studies and other resources.

The Importance of Customer Outreach

The Importance of Customer Outreach
The more a utility communicates with its ratepayers, the more the ratepayers agree with community and water leaders, a new study finds. In fact, constituents who received water‐related information from utility mailings or served on committees and boards had perceptions that were more aligned with leaders' concerns. This is why cutting outreach could be a big mistake for utilities of all sizes. 

Another study finding is that there is a real disconnect between the concerns of customers and that of water providers. Residents showed most concern about potential water shortages and high water bills, while their leaders were most concerned about deteriorating local water infrastructure. This was the case no matter where cities were located or what their water source was. 

From their end, residents have a good reason to be concerned about their water rates. The labor department has released findings that show water rates have increased 5.5% on average each year over the past decade, three times faster than the rate of inflation. At the same time, water utilities are feeling the squeeze while trying to provide high quality water with aging or inadequate infrastructure. 

This disconnect is why it is crucial for utilities to talk to, and listen to, their ratepayers. Giving the public a voice in major decisions and communicating critical issues results in decisions that are more effective and sustainable. And that is good news for everyone. 

Interested in outreach resources? Type in "outreach" in our document database on WaterOperator.org or you can check out this recent listing.

Featured Video: Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative

Featured Video: Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative
These past few weeks, our featured videos have highlighted the infrastructure needs and challenges of water utilities from several different angles: kids' PSAs, rural utilities' infrastructure improvement projects, and operational know-how for utility administrators. But maybe your community is past all that. Your community  knows what your needs are. You've studied what other utilities in similar situations have done. Your utility's leaders all have a good grasp of what the problem is and how to fix it. What comes next?

There are a couple of different answers to that question, depending on your specific circumstances and the place where you live. You might need to contact a technical assistance provider or an engineer. You might need to apply for a grant. Depending on where you live, you may also benefit from joining a regional partnership. In Alaska, some rural communities have joined the Alaska Rural Utility Collaborative (ARUC), which helps streamline and standardize billing and assists with infrastructure improvements. This week's video features brief interviews with communities that have benefited from this partnership. (Please note that the first 8 seconds of this video are a black screen. The video will begin after this brief pause.)

 

For more on regional partnerships, see our featured video on a regional partnership in the Southwest.