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WaterOperator.org Blog

Additional Free Test Prep Training Resources for Operators

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Below is a list of free test prep training resources to supplement our previous articles: Free Test Prep Training Resources for Operators, Operator Math Part 3: Continuous Education, and Featured Video: Water Exam Success. These resources can help prospective water and wastewater operators prepare for certification exams. 

Operator Licensing Requirements Across the United States

The 125-page report outlines licensing requirements for water and wastewater operators across all 50 states to determine opportunities for and barriers to cross-training. 

Drinking Water C & D Level Certification Review

This 434-page document contains a collection of 22 presentations that will help operators prepare for their C & D level certification exams. Topics discussed include: how to improve your exam score; filtration; water treatment; the Safe Drinking Water Act; Florida drinking water rules; water sources; well requirements for PWSs; storage systems; chlorination and disinfection; disinfection and disinfection byproducts; water treatment plant maintenance; taste, odor, aeration, iron removal, and stabilization; sedimentation; demineralization; coagulation & flocculation; corrosion control; water softening; water transmission & distribution; basic chemistry; laboratory methods; math; and treatment plant safety.

Need-to-Know Criteria Wastewater Treatment Operator Class I 

This 11-page factsheet was developed to assist operators in understanding the content that will be covered in (a previous version of) ABC’s Standardized Wastewater Treatment Operator Class I exam. A methodical and comprehensive international investigation was conducted to determine the most significant job tasks performed by wastewater treatment operators. The content covered on the exam represents the job tasks identified through this research as essential operator competencies and is not limited to the practices of your system/facility. 

Regulatory Resources

Handbook for Water Distribution System Operators

This 39-page handbook contains useful information on approved training courses, related regulations, and associations that assist in training or technical programs.

Drinking Water Training System

This U.S EPA website provides training on the federal requirements of the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. 

Chemistry Resources

ABC Formula/Conversion Table for Water Treatment, Distribution and Laboratory Exams

This 4-page document can be used as a study tool to help water operators prepare for certification exams.

ABC Formula/Conversion Table for Wastewater Treatment, Industrial, Collection and Laboratory Exams

This 5-page document lists formula, conversion factors, and abbreviations needed to prepare for the Wastewater Treatment, Industrial, Collection and Laboratory Exams.

Water Treatment and Distribution Operator Chemistry Reference Sheet

This 3-page factsheet includes frequently used formulas and conversions for water treatment and distribution operators.

Math Resources

Absolution Water - Conversions

This 12-minute video offers a tutorial on math conversions noting special tips for finding the correct answer without any mistakes.

Water Treatment and Distribution Operator Math Reference Sheet: Frequently used formulas and conversions

This 15-page factsheet contains frequently used formulas and conversions for water treatment and distribution operators.

 

Additional Resources for Management of Dissolved Oxygen in Activated Sludge Plants

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Below is a list of free resources on the management of dissolved oxygen in activated sludge plants to supplement our previous article Managing Dissolved Oxygen in Activated Sludge Plants

Troubleshooting Noncompliance at Small Wastewater Treatment Plants

This is a 171-page presentation from the Ohio EPA on Troubleshooting Noncompliance at Small Wastewater Treatment Plants that features information on activated sludge process control.  

Operating Tools and Measurement Techniques for Troubleshooting Activated Sludge Systems

This 29-slide presentation discusses tools that can be used to troubleshoot activated sludge systems. The presentation will introduce some simple tools, talk about some that are a little more advanced, and show operators that this is not the realm of only the laboratory or the engineer.

Activated Sludge Process Control Manual

This is a 106-page Activated Sludge Training Manual that was prepared by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality with information on operating the activated sludge process, including nutrient removal, and troubleshooting. 

Holistic Aeration and Chemical Optimization Saves Big Money from 1 MGD to 600 MGD

This 36-slide presentation outlines automated dissolved oxygen control, which includes reduced operator labor/attention, improved process stability, and energy savings; automated biomass control; and automated chemical feed control for P removal, which includes a 95 percent reduction in chemical usage. 

Troubleshooting Activated Sludge Processes

This 32-slide presentation discusses how to troubleshoot activated sludge processes and covers process types & kinetics, influent monitoring, process monitoring, and control and nitrification.

Convert Activated Sludge to BPR

This 48-slide presentation discusses improving Bio-P performance by getting to know the system, initial assessment, expanding a zone for increased BPR performance, learning D.O. control, and more.

Efficient Nutrient Removal under Low Dissolved Oxygen Concentrations

This 25-slide presentation discusses the City of St. Petersburg Southwest WRF, City of Rochester WWTF, and more. 

Activated Sludge- It’s About Efficiency and Optimization

This 167-page compilation of eight presentations discusses the history and application of activated sludge, aeration systems, secondary clarifier design and operation, aeration efficiency studies, dissolved oxygen control, blower technologies, advancements in control systems for WWTPs, and conversion to MBR.

Doom & Bloom: Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) in Wastewater Treatment

This website from the Environmental Finance Center Network provides an overview of the function of biochemical oxygen demand in wastewater treatment plants. 

A Tale of Two Filaments: BNR System Recovery from a Major Process Upset

This 7-page article discusses the Glendale Wastewater Treatment Plant in Lakeland, Florida that had a power outage that caused the dissolved oxygen concentrations in the aeration basins to drop very low. 

These resources and more can be found in our document library.

A Day in the Life of a Water Operator

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While the specific details of each day can differ, the general tasks remain largely the same for water and wastewater operators in the United States. Below is a list of videos showcasing the different daily experiences of water and wastewater operators across the country. 

Whether you share these on social media to help inform the public or use the examples to inspire your own video, telling the story of what you do every day can help inspire future generations of water industry professionals.

The Benefits of Drones in the Water Industry

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Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones, have slowly made their way into various parts of society, including the water sector. They offer a more accessible and affordable way for water utility managers to survey their systems. They also offer plant managers the ability to collect detailed information about the status of their utility through aerial photos and videos. 

The greatest benefits of drones are that they are highly efficient while still being relatively inexpensive. Drones can be used to collect data ranging from updating processes to designing additions, as well as building changes, maintenance, and demolition. 

Some water companies in France are even using drones to inspect sewer operations. They are also being used in New Zealand as part of a water quality monitoring projectDrones are being used in Ireland to survey problems before they arise and catch unlawful dumping that would eventually become issues for wastewater treatment workers to handle. Drones have proven to be especially helpful in the wastewater industry by increasing worker safety, reducing energy consumption, streamlining planning, improving insight and education, and efficiently collecting samples.

Any current or future users of drones should know that entities utilizing drones are now required to comply with new federal laws enacted as part of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. Despite this hurdle, drones provide a great opportunity to help upgrade and improve an otherwise outdated water industry. Overall, drones can be a great tool to help water utilities of the past move more quickly into the future. 

Free Compliance Resources for the Revised Total Coliform Rule

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Our 2020 free webinar series highlighted compliance-related resources on a number of topics. This recording contains information and free resources on the Revised Total Coliform Rule. Listed below are all the resources mentioned in the video.

Revised Total Coliform Rule: A Quick Reference Guide

This is a 3-page reference guide that provides an overview of the Revised Total Coliform Rule.

Total Coliform Rule: A Quick Reference Guide

This is a 2-page reference guide that provides an overview of the Total Coliform Rule. 

Coliform Bacteria and Drinking Water

This is a 2-page question and answer document from the Washington State Department of Health about coliform bacteria in drinking water. 

Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) Placards

This is a collection of six e-fillable placards on the requirements of the Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Repeat Monitoring Requirements For Small Systems

This is a reference guide for repeat monitoring that can be used to identify if there were any violations and what actions to take.

Vermont DEC Pocket Sampling Guide to RTCR

This is a small pocket guide with information on complying with the RTCR sampling requirements. 

Flowchart for Triggered Source Water Monitoring

This is a flowchart developed by the New Jersey DEP for public water systems on quarterly and monthly schedules. 

Revised Total Coliform Rule: Routine Positive Sample Flowchart (For Community Water Supplies)

This is a routine positive sample flowchart from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy on what to do when a system triggers a TC+ routine sample. 

Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) Sample Siting Plan with Template Manual

This is an 11-page manual that provides information on how to choose proper sampling locations and instructions on completing the template while complying with the RTCR.

Guidance for Developing a Coliform Sample Siting Plan

This is a 14-page guidance document from the New Jersey DEP that expands on each component of the siting plan. 

RTCR Sample Plan Checklist for Water Systems

This is a 1-page checklist that can be used to ensure a successful sample plan. 

Revised Total Coliform (RTCR): Bacteriological Sample Siting Plan (SSP) Tutorial

This is a 12-minute training video that provides concise details on the steps to complete a plan.

Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) Sampling Plan: Form Training
This is a 12-minute video from the Vermont DEC providing instructions on completing a plan.

AWWA Coliform Sampling Video
This is a 3-minute video on how to properly collect water samples.

Coliform Sampling Best Practices

This is a 6-minute video on proper sample collection techniques and tips to reduce false-positive results.

Revised Total Coliform Assessment Factsheet

This is a 2-page factsheet providing the guidelines for when a Level 1 or 2 assessment is triggered.

Revised Total Coliform Rule Assessment and Compliance Training

This 137-page manual was designed by the Pennsylvania DEP to train individuals to perform a Level 1 assessment and explain the process of completing a Level 2 assessment if necessary.

Revised Total Coliform Rule Assessments and Corrective Actions Guidance Manual

This is a 164-page manual that covers assessment and corrective action requirements under the RTCR.

Level 1 Site Assessment Under RTCR
This video covers the steps for completing an assessment while providing additional tips and advice about the process. 

Revised Total Coliform Rule Level 2 Assessment Training

This is a 90-page training manual designed to prepare individuals to perform the Level 2 assessment that includes a template for the assessment and a checklist to prepare an assessment.

Public Notification Instructions and Templates for the Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR)

This is a 38-page document that includes instructions as well as templates for reporting RTCR violations.

Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR) Level 1 Assessments and Start-up Procedures - Iowa DNR

This is a 4-minute video walking through the start-up procedures checklist and level 1 assessment form.

Seasonal Public Water System Startup Instruction

This is a 22-minute video providing instructions to complete the start-up checklist and certification form.

The Revised Total Coliform Rule A Guide for Small Public Water Systems

This is a 98-page guidance manual for systems serving less than 1,000 customers on how to comply with the RTCR. 

Revised Total Coliform Rule for Drinking Water

This is a series of 6 online presentations designed to help systems learn more about the RTCR requirements.

Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR)

This is a 110-slide presentation from the Vermont DEC that provides a comprehensive background of the RTCR. 

Revised Total Coliform Rule(RTCR) Frequently Asked Questions

This is a 6-page list of frequently asked questions developed by the New Jersey DEP about the RTCR. 

Revised Total Coliform Rule – Chapter 3 Question Index

This is a 21-page list of questions and answers from chapter 3 of the Illinois EPA from Sample Collector’s Handbook. 

Revised Total Coliform Rule (RTCR)

This is an ASDWA webpage that allows states to share plans and materials for RTCR implementation.

 

Please note that we are not able to provide certificates for watching a webinar recording.

Most Clicked Newsletter Sources in 2021

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Over the course of 2021, we published dozens of newsletters relaying the most important and applicable information throughout the year. There were some sources that stood out to our readers more than others. Listed below are the most clicked sources that were listed in our newsletters throughout 2021. 

‘They thought I was so low’: Women say they were harassed, bullied, ignored at the powerful water agency
This Los Angeles Times article discusses the experiences of three different women in the water industry around California who have each experienced various forms of harassment at work. 

Water Infrastructure Receives Low Grades on ASCE Infrastructure Report Card
The water sector continued to receive poor marks on the American Society of Civil Engineers 2021 Infrastructure Report Card. 

Florida Officials Warn of 20-Foot ‘Wall of Water’ if Reservoir Breaches
A wastewater treatment facility in Piney Point Florida had a leak so concerning it caused hundreds of people in the surrounding area to be evacuated. 

Deadly Water Tank Explosion Caught on Astonishing Video in Central Valley
A 1.5 million gallon city water tank exploded in Central Valley California and it was caught on camera.

Chlorine Shortage: Cities Ask People to Reduce Water Use
States across the West were experiencing a chlorine shortage that was beginning to impact their drinking water utilities.

Worsening Climate Extremes and Failing Infrastructure are Inexorably Intertwined
In the United States, we are seeing that the effects of climate change are exacerbated because of the country's failing infrastructure.

Ida Remnants Pound Northeast With Rain, Flooding, Tornadoes
Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc on water and wastewater utilities across the country. 

“Flushable” Wipes are Ruining Sewage Plants
Verge Science explains why "flushable" wipes are not actually flushable.

Resilient Strategies Guide for Water Utilities
This tool can help utilities develop plans that address their unique needs and priorities.

WEF Announces Operator Scholarships
The Water Environmental Federation (WEF) announced the availability of scholarships of $2,500 to $5,000 for operators seeking certification or professional development.

River Runner Tool
This innovative tool can be used to track the path of a raindrop from anywhere in the United States. 

Water Affordability Dashboard
A dashboard of information about the cost of water services and affordability for single-family residential homes in the United States. 

Child Dresses Up as Water Tower for Halloween 
A TikTok video went viral of a little girl who dressed up as a water tower for Halloween. 

Operator Educates Millions on TikTok
A wastewater treatment plant operator gained millions of views on TikTok after posting numerous informational videos on various wastewater topics.

 

The State of California Drinking Water

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California has long been an epicenter of water issues, but the current megadrought and chronic infrastructure underfunding has brought the crisis to a head. According to a recently published study, California's water systems are beginning to fail across the state. Medium and small-sized public water systems are especially vulnerable.

The report claims to be the first comprehensive analysis of how safe water is provided in California. The study sampled 2,779 public water systems and nearly half proved to be at some risk of failing to provide safe drinking water. Roughly one-third of state small water systems sampled in the study were found to potentially contain contaminants like nitrate and arsenic

The greatest takeaway from the findings was that more funding is needed and that investments should prioritize the most at-risk and underserved communities. However, in the short term, bottled water or home filtration systems could be provided to communities that need drinking water immediately, according to the report. Long-term solutions to these problems include enhancing water treatment, consolidating small and underperforming water systems, and recruiting experts that can advise communities on how to improve their systems.

Optimization Offers "Cushion" to Stay in Compliance

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Were you curious to learn more about the "hot topic" issues Dave McMillan discussed in episode 5 of Tap Talk? The Louisiana Department of Health recently organized a 5-hour virtual training as part of their Area-Wide Optimization Program (AWOP) that goes in deep.

 

According to U.S. EPA, AWOP is "a cost-effective approach to increasing public health protection, proactively achieving regulatory compliance, improving treatment plant performance, and maintaining high water quality throughout the distribution system." In the video, engineer Alicia Martinez describes it more plainly as "going above and beyond so you have cushion when things go wrong." Topics covered in this recording include:

  • Naturally Occurring Ammonia
  • A Practical Guide to Breakpoint Chlorination
  • Chloramine Disinfection Overview
  • Interactive Case Studies – Accessing Chloramine Systems
  • Dosage Calculations using Davidson Pie Wheel

Please note that this recording is shared for informational purposes only and typically CEUs are not able to be awarded by your certification entity for watching a video recording without specific, prior approval.

Featured Video: How Do They Replace Lead Pipes?

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Replacement of lead service lines has dramatically accelerated in recent years due to increased attention on the issue and consequently, enhanced public support and funding for the effort. In this video Denver Water offers a behind-the-scenes look at the process and helps their customers understand what they need to do before, during, and after work in their area.

Featured Video: Lift Station 2 Pump Cleaning

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By Jill Wallitschek

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.