A targeted initiative to provide both classroom and field (internship) training to potential1 small system drinking water operators who will replace the aging and retiring workforce
July 7, 2009

MassDEP will provide drinking water operator classroom training to two-to-three hundred (200-300) potential small system drinking water operators and will provide field training to ten-to-twenty (10-20) individuals via internships. For this initiative, MassDEP will work with partners (e.g. Massachusetts Community Colleges, Massachusetts Technical and Vocational High Schools, Massachusetts Water Works Association, New England Water Works Association, Community based Night-Life Programs and others), to assist in providing drinking water operator training, examination preparation and review, career counseling and on-site field training (internship). Initiative will focus on (but not be limited to) EPA-designated environmental justice areas.

Purpose

The purpose of this initiative is to offer both classroom and on-site field training to the next generation of small system drinking water operators. These newly trained operators are being prepared to replace the current (aging and retiring) drinking water operators. Industry representatives estimate that 15%-20% of all drinking water operators will be retiring within the next five years.

Overview

MassDEP, in collaboration with its partners, will launch the Green Jobs Training and Placement Partnership (GJPP) in an effort to replace an aging and retiring workforce. This professional development initiative can be broken down into the following four components: 1) Train students at vocational and technical high schools in the basics of drinking water operations (includes small systems) and 2) Train students in community based "Night-Life (Adult)" education programs in the basics of drinking water operations (includes small systems) and 3) incorporate drinking water operator training class into the community (state) college network. Participants may receive college credits which they can apply to existing drinking water (or other environmental program) that is offered at the college. 4) On-site field training -Internship Program - MassDEP will work to identify public water systems that will act as mentors for the training programs graduates. Internship participants will receive valuable field experience and will be reimbursed for their efforts. The initiative is designed to train future drinking water operators in a "hands on" fashion while building their scientific knowledge, skills and understanding of drinking water (including small systems) and the surrounding natural environment. Participants in the program may be eligible for an internship at a participating public water system.

  1. Vocational and Technical High School Initiative

    The Green Jobs Partnership is a collaborative effort between staff members from MassDEP Drinking Water Program, Massachusetts Water Works Association (MWWA), New England Water Works Association, and other organizations. During the first year of this initiative MWWA will begin to work with various (2-4) vocational and technical high schools with a concerted effort to work with EPA designated Environmental Justice communities. Partners will work together to provide classroom instruction through guest lecturers, providing reference materials and offering student field trips. It is expected that the participants in this initiative will receive training in the following core areas; small drinking water regulations, water sources and treatment, disinfection, plant operations, laboratory procedures, maintenance, safety and many other topics. Training classes will include components of the MWWA Education Initiative Stakeholder Meeting draft curriculum.

  2. Adult Education Initiative

    The Drinking Water Program is also sponsoring a course entitled "Drinking Water Operator Training Course for Very Small System (VSS)" which will be piloted through the Worcester Public Schools Night Life Division and replicated elsewhere. This 15-hour course which is offered in the evening will prepare students to sit for the Massachusetts Drinking Water Operator VSS exam. Course material will introduce students to the water supply field and the responsibilities of certified drinking water operators. Topics covered will include water quality sampling, wells and source protection, water distribution (pipes, storage tanks, hydrants, meters), safety, water treatment, reporting, and drinking water regulations and much more. Students will learn to use basic math formulas for calculating water storage, pressure, flow, water usage, and treatment dosing. An optional field trip and participation/admission to the New England Water Works Drinking Water Exposition (held in April at the DCU Center in Worcester) will be scheduled to give students exposure to local water operations and potential career opportunities. Training classes will include components of the MWWA Education Initiative Stakeholder Meeting draft curriculum.

  3. Community College (State University) Drinking Water Operator Training with College Credits

    The Drinking Water Program is also sponsoring a free Drinking Water Operator Training Course doc format of Very Small System Drinking Water Operator Training which will be piloted at a minimum of (3-5) campuses of the Massachusetts Community College (and/or State College) network of schools. The curriculum for this 18 hour course is basic drinking water information and will prepare students to sit for the Massachusetts Drinking Water Operator VSS exam. The participants will also receive "1 college credit". The credit can be applied to another drinking water (and or waste water or environmentally related course) that is offered in the college network. This course will provide students with an understanding of the professional opportunities in the drinking water (environmental field) and act as a "gateway" or "catalyst" to attract students into existing environmental programs in the community college network. Students that attend may be eligible for the Internship program at participating public water systems. Training classes will include components of the MWWA Education Initiative Stakeholder Meeting draft curriculum.

  4. Field Training - Internship at Public Water Systems

    The MassDEP recognizes that the success of an operator training program can be measured by the number of graduates that receive a job offer upon graduation. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is committed to providing a quality field training (internship) experience for students (and teachers) who have participated in the aforementioned drinking water training program (or are MassDEP approved) or certificate program. MWWA and MassDEP will work to identify public water systems that will act as mentors for the training programs graduates and participating individuals. The mentors who agree to supervise interns must agree to play an active role in the development of the individual as a water supply professional. It is recommended that interns receive training in the following categories: regulations, water source, source protection, treatment, distribution, storage, cross connections, water quality, sampling, management and finance.

Objectives

The proposed initiative has four main objectives:

  1. Provide classroom training and exam preparation and review for potential drinking water operators.
  2. Provide field training (internships) for potential drinking water operators.
  3. Build drinking water operator training curriculum into vocational technical high schools and community colleges.
  4. Replace aging and retiring drinking water operators with newly trained operators.

Partners

  • Drinking Water Trade Associations and Service Providers: Massachusetts Water Works Association, New England Water Works Association, Massachusetts Rural Water Association
  • Minuteman Technical Vocational High School, Worcester Technical High School and Greater New Bedford Vocational Technical High School
  • Massachusetts Community Colleges
  • Worcester Night Life Program

For more information on this initiative please contact Michael Maynard at 508-767-2735.

 

1 This initiative will also train current operators with Operator-in-Training licenses who are not actively employed in the field.