Water/ Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators Short Course

Venue: Blacksburg

Location: Blacksburg, Virginia, United States

Event Date/Time: Aug 01, 2004 End Date/Time: Aug 13, 2004
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The training program for water and wastewater operators at Virginia Tech has been offered annually for many years and is recognized as one of the most successful programs in the country. Gregory Boardman, a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech, has served as director of the program since 1980. Typically, the total number of participants in water and wastewater classes each year is approximately 200. Obviously, a program of this size requires considerable effort on the part of many individuals. Jack Vanderland and Wayne Staples of Virginia's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) organize and coordinate wastewater classes, and Mark Anderson and Lewis Smith of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) organize and coordinate the water classes. The program is hosted by Continuing and Proffesional Education personnel who are involved in all aspects of the program.

The program is divided into seven short courses-three water classes and four wastewater classes. Each course requires one week to complete. The first level or first year in each area, water or wastewater, is designed to be introductory. A person need not have any prior training or experience to enroll in the first year class. Additionally, the person need not have a job at a treatment plant to enroll. One of the goals of the program is to bring more people to the field of plant operations. Another very important goal is to enhance the understanding, awareness and abilities of practicing operators and those who aspire to become operators.

The program is not designed to simply "teach" the operator licensing exams, although it is immediately obvious to participants that the material being presented will help them pass licensing exams. The material in the various classes is very applied and practical. For example, applied math and chemistry are taught by way of real world problems. Participants are shown how to maintain equipment. Apparatus used in the laboratory and in the field (e.g. valves and pumps) are demonstrated in classes. Included among the instructors in the program are DEQ and VDH employees, plant operators, industrial personnel, employees of firms working in the field, and Virginia Tech faculty.

Virginia now licenses operators at six levels in water (VI-I, I being the highest) and four levels in wastewater (IV-I, I being the highest). Because the numbering system is different for licenses and Virginia Tech's short courses, people are sometimes confused as to which course to take. Participants should never begin the program at Levels 3 or 4 without permission from Dr. Boardman. Most people begin with the Level 1 course, but there are special cases where an individual can/should begin in Level 2. The following is a rough guideline to help participants select the right course.