ABC Innovation in Certification Conference Highlights Water Operator Challenges and Opportunities

The Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) held its 2019 Innovation in Certification conference last week in Savannah, Georgia and ASDWA staff attended. Conference participants included representatives from state and Canadian water boards and drinking water operator certification programs, training and technical assistance organizations, testing service providers, and more. The three day conference included presentations and interactive discussions on a variety of water operator certification topics. Some highlights included:

  • Welcoming remarks by Paul Bishop, ABC President and CEO, who opened the conference with a challenge for the audience to collectively, “…Create the guiding voice to change the future of the water workforce.”
  • A presentation and discussion about operator credential portability that shared challenges with state reciprocity due to legislative requirements and considered minimum standards that could be applicable across state lines, but also highlighted successes with state MOUs and sharing operators and resources during natural resource disasters where state Water and Wastewater Agency Response Networks (WARNs) were brought in from other states to provide mutual aid.
  • A panel discussion on workforce issues that shared a variety of programs around the country aimed at targeting potential water operators for jobs, training, and apprenticeships such as the NRWA WaterPro Apprenticeship Program with the Department of Labor and USDA; the AWWA Veteran’s Workforce Initiative; Florida Gateway College’s efforts to train high schoolers and get prisoners back in the workforce; and WaterTALENT’s efforts to engage experienced operators after retirement.

Other topics at the conference included challenges with getting courses (including online courses) approved for CEU’s in different states that have different requirements; targeted actions for achieving higher test passing rates and for ensuring exam security; considerations for water operator training on water loss; and options for tech tools to track operator certifications, exam scores, and explore training opportunities. Visit the ABC website for more information about ABC and the conference.