2016 Highlights: A Historic First as CWEA and CA-NV AWWA Jointly Sign DPR Comment Letter sent to State Water Board

The CWEA and CA-NV AWWA AWT Certification Committee at the San Diego County Water Authority.

The CWEA and CA-NV AWWA AWT Certification Committee at the San Diego County Water Authority.

A first in the history of CWEA: we signed our first joint comment letter together with the California-Nevada section of the American Water Works Association (AWWA). The focus of the letter was the operator certification sections of the State Water Board draft Report on the Feasibility of Developing Uniform Water Recycling Criteria for Direct Potable Reuse (DPR). CA-NV AWWA and CWEA leaders are meeting quarterly to work on Advanced Water Treatment (AWT) operator certification.

In the letter both associations asked for the State Water Board’s support for:

  • A certification program developed jointly by CWEA and CA-NV AWWA
  • Possible funding
  • Clear timelines

View the joint CWEA-CA-NV AWWA comment letter here.

CWEA continues to participate in the AWT Certification Committee started by CA-NV AWWA. The Committee’s recent job analysis workshop in October included participation by both CA-NV AWWA and CWEA and was considered a success. The focus was on:

  • Defining the AWT operator’s job and roles
  • Identifying content domains and subdomains
  • Developing task statements and knowledge statements

Here are some points to remember about a potential AWT certification program:

  1. Agencies may require an AWT certificate to work at an AWT Facility. To work as an AWT operator, regulators and/or agencies may require or encourage operators hold the new AWT cert together with either their drinking water treatment or wastewater operator certification.
  2. A certificate can boost your experience, reputation and employment options. Even if you are not yet working at an AWTF you can expand your career possibilities or demonstrate your skills by obtaining the new AWT certification any time you are ready.
  3. The new certification program will provide career opportunities for all certified water and wastewater operators. Developing and streamlining the AWT certification process will provide a clear career path for both drinking water and wastewater operators who want to work at an AWTF. AWT certification also provides a useful standard for employers to use when hiring and promoting operators working at an AWTF. (WateReuse, 2015)
  4. It will improve AWT training and knowledge exchange across California. Current AWT training is ad-hoc and conducted in-house by a few agencies operating AWTFs. In order to create a substantial pool of potential AWT operators, training can be expanded by CWEA and CA-NV AWWA. (CUWA report, 2016)
  5. Water and wastewater professionals support the new AWT certification. In a recent WateReuse California poll, 70% of water professionals agree one certification program should be used for all AWT operators.
  6. We need to hire more water, wastewater and AWT operators. The retirement wave is starting to hit our profession and we need to find a new pool of qualified operators and provide them the training they need so they can run the treatment facilities of the future.

According to the State Water Board staff report and an  interview with Cindy Forbes, head of the Division of Drinking Water, they would like wastewater professionals to focus on improving source control; optimize wastewater treatment plants; and develop the AWT operator certification program.

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Alec Mackie

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