Creating Learning Options for Water/Wastewater Operators

,
Julie Sievers,
Senior Water Solutions Specialist
April 29, 2024

Public works systems are crucial for community well-being and functionality as they contribute to the quality of life for residents. With an in-depth understanding of regulations, environmental conditions, processes, and procedures, ISG aims to develop strategic partnerships with municipalities and deliver right-sized solutions for their unique systems.

To support communities and their needs, ISG offers free online drinking water and wastewater operator training opportunities to ensure operators are qualified, trained, and equipped with the skills to operate, maintain, and protect systems.

Certification Challenges

Prior to 2020, water and wastewater operators were required to maintain certifications by receiving continuing education units (CEUs) or contact hours through in-person training sessions. When all in-person training ceased in 2020, there was no indication that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was going to change their requirements even though opportunities to receive CEUs or contact hours were not available.

Around that time, ISG hired former Iowa DNR employee and Senior Water Solutions Specialist, Julie Sievers. Julie’s background with drinking water compliance and water operations paired with ISG’s passion for providing technical support to water and wastewater partners resulted in discovering an innovative solution that would address operator training challenges.  

Operator Opportunities

Leveraging technology and resources, ISG created an online training platform that offers operators virtual opportunities to maintain their certifications. Training sessions are led by in-house water and wastewater experts, industry partners who offer relevant products or services, or DNR staff. Topics are relevant, specific to state nuances, and geared toward operator certification needs.

“This is a great opportunity for our industry to connect while gaining useful training and CEUs." – Julie Sievers, Senior Water Solutions Specialist

Benefits of Online Water + Wastewater Training

What started as an opportunity to fulfill a need for operators, has grown and gained momentum due to its success. While in-person trainings have resumed offering operators face-to-face networking and learning options, the Iowa DNR has encouraged ISG to continue online training sessions due to the benefits they provide.

  1. Convenience. In-person training sessions pull day-to-day operators from their communities for extended periods. Due to this constraint, communities are also limited to sending one or a few operators to in-person sessions at a time. By joining virtually, operators will remain within their communities to respond to emergencies. Multiple operators are also encouraged to participate as a group and discuss the training.
  2. Time + Cost Savings. Not only are virtual training sessions free, but they also save communities the cost of transportation, accommodations, registration, and meals associated with in-person events.
"Very convenient for us smaller systems that can't travel. I will be signing more of our operators up for future trainings." – February 2024 Participant

Session Success

Due to positive response and a growing demand since the first online training session in April 2020, ISG expanded operator training to serve operators in South Dakota. Nearly 200 operators participate in each session and attendance continues to grow. ISG’s training resource has allowed operators to attend more frequently, expand their knowledge, earn more CEUs, and advance their careers.  

“These are a great way to earn CEUs. It keeps costs low as our city struggles with its budget.” – February 2024 Participant

ISG will continue to identify opportunities for supporting Iowa and South Dakota communities in their pursuit of ensuring long-term maintenance of their infrastructure. Visit the website to learn about upcoming topics, register for online water and wastewater training sessions, and contact ISG about supporting your community’s water/wastewater needs.

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