The Water Environment Federation (WEF) sets forth Critical Objectives and Strategic Goals in order to achieve its vision of “A community of empowered professionals creating a healthy global water environment.” One group of the envisioned empowered professionals is facility operations and maintenance (O&M) staff. A number of programs have been initiated by WEF to support and address the issues currently facing the O&M sector of the industry.
As a whole, these programs attempt to focus on recruitment and retention of operators, education and training for operators and operator trainers, recognition for operators, certification exams, and certification reciprocity. Programs are executed through WEF committees and task forces such as the Operators Advisory Panel (OAP), the Plant Operations and Maintenance Committee (POMC), and the House of Delegates (HOD).
The success of these programs can be limited in several ways. First, many O&M staff are only registered at the member association (MA) level, and therefore are unaware of and have no access to the resources available at wef.org. Second, the activities of these committees are guided to some degree by the personal views and experiences of committee members, and may not necessarily align with issues prioritized by O&M staff. Third, O&M certification is handled by the states as is approval of continuing education units (CEUs) needed to maintain certification. The difficulty in issuing CEU accreditation devalues the national level education resources.
The Covid-19 pandemic has halted in-person trainings but affords opportunities in distance learning and greater exchange of ideas that we must use to our advantage.
This session, presented by the immediate past chair of the WEF POMC, will introduce the general structure of the WEF groups addressing O&M issues and highlight the major issues of concern. The resources and benefits of full WEF membership will be demonstrated. The session is then intended to proceed to an extended (15-20 minute) interactive discussion with the audience (hopefully dominated by O&M staff and managers) that will garner feedback about the value of various programs and initiatives and inform what issues truly are of high concern to O&M staff.