Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators

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Also known as:
Industrial Waste Treatment Technician, Lead Sewage Plant Operator, Liquid Waste Treatment Plant Operator, Sewage Plant Operator, Waste Treatment Operator, Wastewater Operator, Water Plant Operator, Water Treatment Technician

Video transcript

Water, water, everywhere: but is it safe to use? Water and waste treatment plant operators treat water so it's safe to drink, while waste treatment plant operators remove pollutants and other harmful materials from wastewater, making it safe to return to the environment.

Water and waste treatment plant operators read gauges and meters and use computers to make sure that the equipment is operation properly. They operate chemical feeding machines, test water samples, and make repairs to valves and pumps.

To handle emergencies, operators are trained in emergency management response procedures to protect the public health and the facility. Most water and waste treatment plant jobs are with local and federal governments, or with utilities and private water supply and sanitary services companies.

Operators must pass a state certification exam. Since plants operate around the clock, shift work, weekend and holiday duty is common and expected. The work can be physically strenuous and dirty. Working conditions can be noisy and foul smelling. Slippery floors and dangerous gases can make this job hazardous. However, simple safety guidelines minimize these risks.

Water and waste treatment plant operators provide essential services that everyone in the community depends on every day.

Operate or control an entire process or system of machines, often through the use of control boards, to transfer or treat water or wastewater.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Maintain, repair, and lubricate equipment, using hand tools and power tools.

Direct and coordinate plant workers engaged in routine operations and maintenance activities.

Clean and maintain tanks, filter beds, and other work areas, using hand tools and power tools.

Add chemicals, such as ammonia, chlorine, or lime, to disinfect and deodorize water and other liquids.

Record operational data, personnel attendance, or meter and gauge readings on specified forms.

Operate and adjust controls on equipment to purify and clarify water, process or dispose of sewage, and generate power.

Inspect equipment or monitor operating conditions, meters, and gauges to determine load requirements and detect malfunctions.

Collect and test water and sewage samples, using test equipment and color analysis standards.

Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Controlling Machines and Processes Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Chemistry Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Biology Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Production and Processing Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Operation Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Operation and Control Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Quality Control Analysis Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Troubleshooting Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
Equipment Maintenance Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
Repairing Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.