Water Operator Training in Wescosville, Pennsylvania

Jeff Oxenford, Training and Technical Services Specialist with RCAP, Inc. working with training attendees.

Since 2014, RCAP has utilized EPA funding to successfully develop and deliver customized, participant-based drinking water operator/manager training that addresses compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. When this project started, RCAP conducted a nationwide training needs analysis with primacies across the country to determine root causes of compliance failure for systems serving fewer than 10,000 people. These systems include community water systems, non-transient noncommunity water systems (schools, factories, office buildings and hospitals that have their own system) and transient noncommunity water systems (campgrounds and stores where people do not remain for long periods of time).

RCAP staff conduct Annual Workplan meetings with state primacy agencies to identify the most desirable training topics and address each state’s needs. Operators across the country have been lining up to take advantage of these free training opportunities sponsored by RCAP and their national partner, the American Water Works Association. Training topics include the following: Microbial Contaminants; Disinfection By-Products; Regulatory Overview for Operators; Safe Drinking Water Act for Managers, Boards, and Councils; Distribution System Operations & Maintenance; Source Water Protection; Water Quality; Cross-Connection Control; Strategies to Comply with Regulations; Nitrites/Nitrate; Arsenic; Radionuclides; Revised Total Coliform Rule & Coliform Sampling; Ground Water Rule and Wellhead Protection; and Lead/Copper.

RCAP’s grant is part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program to competitively award funds to non-profit organizations to provide training and technical assistance for small public water systems, small wastewater systems and private well owners in urban and rural communities. More than 97 percent of the nation’s 157,000 public water systems serve fewer than 10,000 people, and more than 80 percent of those systems serve fewer than 500 people, according to the EPA. Many small systems face unique challenges in providing reliable drinking water and wastewater services that meet federal and state regulations. These challenges can include a lack of financial resources, aging infrastructure and high staff turnover. During these training sessions, RCAP tries to address problems and solutions particular to the operation of small water systems.

The full-day Pennsylvania Operator training was held at the Lehigh County Authority in Wescosville in October. 27 small systems operators attended this RCAP and PA AWWA sponsored workshop which focused on drinking water quality. The workshop included curriculum topics from the list above related to “How to Achieve and Maintain Compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act”. The course was approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for 8 Training Contact Hours to help operators be eligible for a first-time certification or maintain their existing certification.

The workshop included exercises and a question-and-answer period where participants broke into work groups and did hands-on problem solving. Networking was also a very large component of this training and participants were able to learn from each other as well as the professional trainers. RCAP staff received overwhelmingly positive feedback and it was noted in the evaluations that attendees felt the quality of the training was very high.  

“We have all this really great training for smaller utilities, training which can be tailored to specific needs…each organization has extensive expertise and strong connections to small systems which enables us to provide free quality training to folks who need it most. Instructors have extensive training in water issues. They have knowledge of the local landscape and issues that smaller systems in particular areas are constantly faced with,” – Kami Johle Butt, AWWA’s Former Manager of ETS Business Programs.

“I went outside while they were demonstrating a hydrant test and a few of the people said this is one of the best trainings they have been to.” –Trissina Trusdell, Lehigh County Authority

“It should make you feel good that they enjoyed the training and are getting good, valuable information…” – Nancy Dinger, PA AWWA

Disaster Resources from the EPA

The United States Environmental Protection Agency offers a variety of resources for both individual well owners and water operators when dealing with a water contamination event.

For Water Operators:

The Water Security Division of the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water will conduct a webinar series including three one-hour events entitled “Responding to a Water Contamination Event.” The webinar series will inform drinking water and wastewater utilities of free tools and resources that can help prepare for, respond to, and recover from water contamination. These webinars include CEUs.

For more information and to register click here.

For Well Owners:

“What to Do With Your Private Well After a Flood.” The link provides steps and precautions for protecting your private well following a flood. It includes information on well and pump inspection, emergency disinfection of wells that have been flooded, and sampling and testing the well water.

What to Do With Your Private Well After a Flood

Qué Hacer Con Su Pozo Privado Después De Una Inundación

Other private well resources are available here: http://www.rcapsolutions.org/private-wells/

US EPA Hurricane Response Updates and Links for Recovery Information and Resources 

https://www.epa.gov/hurricane-response

Water Operator Training Update

Students working to read samples with colorimeters while Kathleen McDermott, Technical Sales Consultant with event sponsor, Hanna Instruments looks on, at NH Department of Environmental Services, Franklin Training Facility.

Students working to read samples with colorimeters while Kathleen McDermott, Technical Sales Consultant with event sponsor, Hanna Instruments looks on, at NH Department of Environmental Services, Franklin Training Facility.

RCAP Network Releases High Quality Drinking Water Operator Training Materials that are Well Received by Operators throughout Northeastern United States

Sukhwindar Singh, Director of Education and Training, RCAP Solutions

Just under seventeen months ago, the RCAP Network was fortunate to be funded through the US EPA to develop materials and train small systems on compliance related topics including content that supported Operator Continuing Education credits.

After a systematic review of the ABC (Association of Boards of Certification) Drinking Water Treatment Need-to-Know criteria, it became evident that RCAP curricula would focus on Distribution System Water Quality Management for small systems as well as basic math and chemistry for water operators.  This goal was set at the National RCAP level for all the regional RCAPs to follow.

We will highlight some of the goals and content of the curricula and explain how it is organized to engage operator attendees.  We will also discuss the extensive Training Contact Hours (TCH) application process and results we have achieved as well as highlighting some upcoming trainings.

The RCAP Distribution Water Quality Management Training Module is designed as a one-day, 8 hour class with small group activities and RCAP videos that emphasize chlorine residual management and distribution system best practices.  The modules that make up the 8 hour course highlight the following: distribution as a barrier to protect public health, regulations and factors  that impact water quality in the distribution system, distribution system components and monitoring practices, how to take a good bacteria sample, chlorine residual management, flushing and pressure management.   Expected learning outcomes for attendees are that they will be able to: 1) Describe the importance of maintaining the distribution system as a barrier to protect public health, 2) Monitor chlorine residual and recognize problems that may lead to low residuals, 3) Manage water age in the distribution system and 4) Recognize issues that may lead to water quality degradation in the distribution system.    The 8 hour course features pre-and post-assessment key concepts which are a hallmark of the RCAP Curriculum Design.  RCAP Solutions has applied for and received course approval for 8.0 TCH credits for water operators in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.  We are securing course approval with the other state primacies in our region as well.  We have successfully completed two trainings for over 25 operators in Massachusetts and New Hampshire with upcoming events scheduled in October in New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

Concepts covered in the Basics of Operator Math module include setting up word problems, working with fractions, conversion factors for common units in water treatment and distribution, percentages, area and volume, manipulat­ing an equation to solve for the desired parameter, chemical dosing problems, and using the ABC Formula/Conversion Table or state-specific formula sheet. While the module’s target audience is water operators, most concepts are also applicable to wastewater operations.   RCAP Solutions has applied for and received course approval for 4.0 TCH credits for The Basics of Operator Math in both water and wastewater in Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, and again we are working with a number of other primacies in our network to secure this accreditation.  In the meantime, RCAP Solutions staff has successfully trained over 100 operators on this content in New York and Maine.  RCAP Solutions has upcoming trainings in this topic scheduled in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New Hampshire for October and November.

Chemistry is a very wide ranging subject that can take many years of study.  The Chemistry for Water Operators curriculum covers some very basic concepts in chemistry such as how to use the periodic table, the chemistry of water, and how to calculate dosage.  These are basic skills that can assist students in understanding more advanced classes on water treatment chemistry.   The target audience is small system water operators that have had some basic chemistry instruction in high school or college.

The training module is designed to fit in a half-day session and can be combined with other modules at the discretion of the trainer.   As a result of this training, participants will be able to: use the periodic table, understand the basic chemical properties of water, and be able to calculate concentrations in a solution.  The course will accomplish this through modules that cover basic chemistry principles from the importance of chemistry for operators to the chemistry of water as well as concentrations and various calculations.  RCAP Solutions has received course approval for 3.5 TCH credits in both water and

Wastewater in Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.   RCAP Solutions has upcoming trainings on this topic scheduled in New Jersey in October and New Hampshire in November.  We are also submitting this material for course approval in many other states of our region.

A successful training event requires quality material, skilled and versatile trainers, engaged participants, sponsors, suitable training locations, and the cooperation of the dedicated Primacy personnel that we have worked with in many of our states to obtain course approval.

We acknowledge and thank the staff of the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health, Drinking Water Section, the New York State Department of Health, Drinking Water, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Drinking Water and Wastewater Sections, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Water Resources Division, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Water Division, the State of Rhode Island Department of Health, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Safe Drinking Water for all their assistance in this extraordinary year of  training program development and delivery at RCAP Solutions.  We are also most appreciative of Hanna Instruments for their participation and sponsorship of trainings in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Upcoming Continuing Education Trainings for Operators

Please Contact Sukh Singh directly at (412) 554-2572 for registration, information and additional training opportunities.

  • October 7, 2015 – Distribution and Water Quality Management in Millbrook, New York. Registration is closed.
  • October 13, 2015 – Math and Chemistry for Water Operators in Egg Harbor New Jersey. Registration is open.
  • October 14, 2015 – Distribution and Water Quality Management in Egg Harbor New Jersey. Registration is open.
  • October 20, 2015 – Basic Math for Water Operators & Distribution System Water Quality Management in Providence Rhode Island. Registration is about to close.
  • November 9, 2015 – Math and Chemistry for Water Operators in Franklin, New Hampshire. Registration is open.
  • December 2, 2015 – Asset Management for Small Water Systems in Connecticut. Location in Connecticut is TBD.  Contact Sukh or Mia McDonald at mmcdonald@rcapsolutions.org for information.