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Water: Wastewater Operator Training

Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator On-Site Assistance Training Program / 104(g)(1)

Assisting the Nation's small community wastewater treatment plants to achieve and maintain compliance, improve performance, and become more secure.

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Section 104(g)(1) of the Clean Water Act Exit EPA Disclaimer is for the purpose of providing an adequate supply of trained personnel to operate and maintain, existing and future treatment works for the enhancement and proficiency of those engaged in such activities. The Administrator shall finance pilot programs in cooperation with State and interstate agencies, municipalities, and educational institutes, for the development, training, and retraining of people in the fields of operation, maintenance and security of treatment works and its related activities, all to maintain the effectiveness of and secure these treatment works. Section 104(g)(1) of the Clean Water Act authorizes funding for the Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator On-Site Assistance Training Program. The program was implemented to address the problem of non-compliance at small publicly-owned wastewater treatment plants, with a discharge of less than 5 million gallons per day, through direct on-site training and other operation and maintenance assistance. Federal funding for the program is administered through grants to States, often in cooperation with educational institutions or non-profit agencies. In most cases, assistance is administered by an environmental training center.

The need for individualized technical assistance is real. There are over 12,500 municipal wastewater treatment plants that discharge less than 1 million gallons per day operating in this country. Over half of these plants have sophisticated activated sludge treatment technologies which require highly-developed operating skills. Operator turnover rates at small wastewater treatment plants are high, budgets and salaries are low, and community support is lacking. These are the ingredients for wastewater treatment plant failure/non-compliance. These types of small, under-served wastewater treatment plants are candidates for the Wastewater Treatment Plant On-Site Operator Assistance Training Program.

This program exists because of the continuing problem of non-compliance of small under-served wastewater treatment facilities. The program provides on-site operator training, financial management, troubleshooting, and other operation and maintenance assistance. A network of operator training personnel, EPA Regional Office Coordinators and States and State Training Centers work in the field with small under-served communities to help solve their operational and maintenance problems. There is no cost incurred by the facility in need of assistance. The only requirement of the program is the willingness to work with a trainer to correct the facility's problems.

The goal of the program is to provide direct on-site assistance to operators at small under-served community wastewater treatment facilities, in order to help the facility achieve and maintain consistent permit compliance, maximizing the community's investment in improved water quality. In a cooperative effort with EPA, States, State Coordinators, Municipalities, and Operators, the assistance endeavor focuses on issues such as, wastewater treatment plant capacity, operation training, maintenance, administrative management, financial management, trouble-shooting, and laboratory operations.

Furthermore, the program identifies any need to repair or build new facilities to meet existing or future permit limits, assists the town during the process of selecting consultants and design review, recommends ways to improve preventive maintenance of equipment and structures, and often reduces energy and chemical costs through more efficient operation techniques. Most importantly, the program gets plant operating staff and local elected officials working together on the problems at the treatment plant in order to improve water quality through efficient use of treatment equipment for maximum environmental benefit.

This program not only promotes cost-efficiency, but in terms of pollution prevention and environmental protection its benefits are invaluable.

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