• Wastewater Treatment

CODY SCHOEPKE
SUPERINTENDENT

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Operations

PLANT OPERATORS

Wastewater treatment-plant operators control processes and equipment that remove excess nutrients in wastewater that would otherwise cause harm to people, wildlife, and the environment. Workers in this field must have an educational background in wastewater and earn state certification by passing operator exams.

The main job of an operator is to monitor and record the performance of computerized equipment that cleans, regulates and analyzes the wastewater before it is discharged to the lake.

They customarily record the information manually or by using a handheld computerized device.


A wastewater operator oversees the equipment, machines and monitoring devices at the wastewater treatment facility and makes necessary adjustments to ensure compliance with standards and guidelines.

The equipment they are responsible for generally includes valves, meters, control panels and pumps, generators, and other equipment necessary for operations.   A wastewater operator also makes regular physical inspections of the plant on an hourly or semi-hourly basis by walking around the plant and observing the performance of each piece of equipment.

In addition to their monitoring and maintenance duties at the plant, a wastewater operator may be required to occasionally visit sanitary lift stations and storm water pump stations within the city.  At these remote locaions, they monitor equipment and activity and investigate any issues that could lead to more severe problems.  They are also trained to handle power outages or natural disasters that may interrupt wastewater operations.

SAMPLING

Another common task relegated to a wastewater operator is sampling. This requires them to collect samples from different areas of the plant and test them in an on-site laboratory for compliance with health and safety standards.

If the analysis reveals serious concerns, the operator typically reports them to a Supervisor for investigation.

SAMPLING/MONITORING & LAB TECHNICIAN

The Fond du Lac Regional Wastewater Treatment & Resource Recovery Facility has a Sampling/Monitoring & Lab Technician who is responsible for scheduling and sampling events, as well as collection and processing of sample data.

The Sampling Technician troubleshoots outlying sampling station operational problems and investigates alarms at those stations.  

CONFINED SPACE
The Sampling/Monitoring & Lab Technician's work site is often a confined space. 

A confined space has limited or restricted means for entry or exit, and it is not designed for continuous employee occupancy.
Confined spaces include, but are not limited to underground vaults, tanks, storage bins, manholes, pits, silos, process vessels, and pipelines.

OSHA uses the term "permit-required confined space" (permit space) to describe a confined space that has one or more of the following characteristics: contains or has the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere; contains a material that has the potential to engulf an entrant; has walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area which could trap or asphyxiate an entrant; or contains any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery, exposed live wires, or heat stress

Many workplaces contain spaces that are considered "confined" because their configurations hinder the activities of employees who must enter, work in, and exit them.
TESTING
The Environmental Protection Agency publishes laboratory analytical methods that are used by municipalities to analyze the chemical, physical and biological components of wastewater and other environmental samples that are required by regulations under the authority of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Most of these methods are published as regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at Title 40 Part 136.
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