Water and Wastewater Workforce – the Impending Challenge Part 1 – The Water & Wastewater Utility Operator
According to a 2016 Government Accountability Office study (Source: https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/687261.pdf), there are approximately 52,000 drinking water and 16,000 wastewater utilities in the United States. These utilities vary widely in the number of people they serve, but the majority serve fewer than 10,000 people. Water and wastewater utility operators are required to run the equipment, control the processes, and monitor the facilities that treat the water and wastewater to make sure it is safe to drink and discharge. Water and wastewater utility operators must meet specialized certification requirements overseen by state regulators. Many duties of water and wastewater utility operators require knowledge, skills, and abilities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The U.S. labor force simply does not have enough workers with specialized STEM training that is needed to keep up with demand. This five-part blog series will focus on informing the reader of the impending challenge associated with the retirement of existing, qualified water and wastewater operators and what you can do to prepare your utility.