Wastewater Guidelines for Operators Adopted by Department of Labor

Working in tandem with the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced adoption of new national guidelines for wastewater system operators.  Focusing on apprenticeship programs, the guidelines define minimum educational and on-the-job learning requirements.

The National Guidelines for Wastewater Systems Operator Apprenticeship can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.doleta.gov/OA/pdf/national.pdf.  According to the WEF press release, the guidelines “…suggest a two-year intensive schedule of 3,520 work process hours and 480 instructional hours.  Work process hours will provide on-the-job experience alongside supervisors and co-workers.  Industry curriculum is structured around six pillars: orientation and safety, operations, maintenance, quality control, logistics, and administration. Additional instruction focuses on the theoretical aspects of the occupation, such as pumping systems, mathematics, and solids management.”

The new guidelines should serve as a model for developing local apprenticeship programs registered with the DOL Office of Apprenticeship or a State Apprenticeship Agency for the wastewater treatment plant operator occupation.  Development of the new operator apprenticeship guidelines is a component of the broader Operator Initiative, a program established by WEF and its member associations to develop the capabilities of wastewater system operators and help raise their visibility as frontline public health professionals.  For more information about this initiative and WEF, go to www.wef.org.   To learn more about the Department of Labor’s Registered Apprenticeship system, visit www.doleta.gov/OA.