Many small systems find access to quality training to be a challenge. Finding money in the budget and time in the day to make it to training events can feel like too much work on top of regular operations duties, leading to a scramble for CEUs once renewal time comes around. To help small systems with this challenge, the American Water Works Association, in partnership with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership and the Environmental Finance Center Network, is offering a series of trainings and e-courses for both operators and utility managers.

What Counts as a Small System?
To qualify for these trainings, you need to work for a small public water system. For this program, small systems are public water systems serving a population of 10,000 or fewer, including Non-Transient Non-Community Water Systems and Transient Non-Community Water Systems. For more on the kinds of systems served by this program, see the “How do I know if I qualify?” section at the top of this page.

Small System Operator Training
Free operator training is offered in two formats: in-person workshops and eLearning courses. In-person technical workshops are offered by RCAP in conjunction with the state AWWA sections. These workshops cover Safe Drinking Water Act topics, including Revised Total Coliform Rule, Lead/Copper, Groundwater Rule, water treatment (microbial contaminants), disinfection byproducts reduction and control, and distribution system operation and maintenance. To see which in-person workshops are being offered near you, check the full list here. (Technical trainings are the ones co-hosted with RCAP; workshops co-hosted with EFCN are on managerial topics and are sometimes also good for CEUs.) Most of these workshops are good for CEUs in the state where they are being held; if a training near you hasn’t been approved for your state, check with your certification authority to see if you can get credit. You do need to register for the courses in order to receive credits, but you do not need to be a member of AWWA to attend.

In addition to the workshops, AWWA and RCAP have developed an eLearning course on the Revised Total Coliform Rule. It’s also free, and you do not need to become a member in order to access it, though you will have to create a (free) account on AWWA’s website. Operators can complete it on the computer at home. It covers basic RTCR topics, including how to perform an assessment under the RTCR, sample site evaluation, source and treatment assessment, and distribution system operations and maintenance practices assessment. Upon successful completion of the course, registrants will receive a certificate of completion to file with their states for continuing education credits.

Small System Manager Training
Small water system managers often face an overwhelming set of challenges along with their operators. For them, AWWA has partnered with the Environmental Finance Center Network to offer free in-person workshops on a range of financial and managerial topics. To see if there are any of these trainings offered near you, and what they cover, check the full list here. (Note that only the workshops co-hosted by EFCN or EFC are aimed at managers. The ones co-sponsored with RCAP are designed for operators.) In addition to these workshops, there is an eLearning course on financial sustainability and a webinar series in development. Bookmark this page to stay up to date.

Want to look for more trainings in your area? Check out our events calendar and sort it by your state. Interested in webinars you can attend from your computer? Sort instead by Type=Webinar.


Posted in: Training/CEUs

For wastewater operators, one of the most challenging aspects of the treatment process is the mathematical component. Working with the calculations and conversions involved with wastewater treatment can be intimidating, particularly if these skills are not used on a daily basis. Opportunities for math review outside of stressful classroom and exam settings are not always readily available or easily accessed, but can be valuable to operators looking to strengthen their skills through practice.

Wastewater Technology Trainers make available in their blog a “Problem of the Day” which provides operators with a great opportunity for review. The problems posted during December and January involve calculating the removal efficiency and influent pounds per day of TSS, VSS, and BOD, influent and primary effluent concentrations of VSS, primary sludge volatile content (VS and VSS), TSS and VSS pounds per day removed, surface over flow rate, and primary clarifier detention time. Detail is given to show step by step how each problem is solved, including how to work out the necessary conversions. Take a look at one of the sample problems here.

To access the sample problems, select "Problem of the Day” under Blog Categories from WWTT’s blog page. Each problem is provided in the form of a downloadable document containing a page or two about working in the wastewater treatment industry followed by the sample problem. Although each of the documents appear similar at first, you’ll find the problems generally begin on the second or third page following a schedule of problems provided on earlier dates. So, if you are looking for a little math review to work at your own pace, this could be the tool for you!

Posted in: Wastewater

Wastewater treatment lagoons can sometimes feel like the unwanted stepchild of municipal wastewater treatment systems. While trainings and materials for activated sludge abound, lagoon training and resources can be hard to come by. This is why we were so excited to hear about LagoonsOnline.com.

Help for Small System Operators
LagoonsOnline.com is a free website funded by the state of Maine. It includes a wealth of resources compiled from Maine, New England, and around the country, as well as original material created for the website. Topics covered include general information on lagoon design and operation; lagoon aeration (including general information and a series of short papers on technical issues); operations articles, mostly on nutrient removal and control; a laboratory section covering various testing requirements and laboratory terms; lagoon microbiology; and sludge management options for lagoon systems. Most of these topic areas include information that should be of interest to municipal lagoon operators from any area of the country. There are also a number of resources that deal with the effects of cold winters on lagoon processes. In particular, many of the operations articles collected by the website deal with cold temperature nitrification.

Networking Opportunities for Lagoon Operator in Maine
For Maine lagoon operators, there may be even more information that would help them connect with local experts and resources. A Lagoons in Maine section includes brief profiles of municipal lagoon systems around the state. This can be a great resource to operators looking for other operators with lagoon experience who might be nearby. It’s also an interesting way of seeing how other systems are set up. Lagoons Online also has links to a Yahoo! operator discussion group and a list of areas of expertise for Maine operators, though these resources may not have been updated recently.

Have you found a really great municipal lagoon operations resource of your own? Let us know in the comments!

Posted in: Wastewater

NASA's new SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive) satellite will provide worldwide soil moisture readings every 2-3 days. This data will be invaluable to scientists, engineers, and local decision makers alike, improving flood prediction and drought monitoring.

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