Wastewater Plant Operator

Effective wastewater management is critical for human health and wellbeing. It is also critical to maintaining the integrity of both ecological and built infrastructure. In urban centres, particularly in sites of dense living, the need for effective wastewater management is even more important. A key service in wastewater management is the operation of wastewater plants, that involves the removal of pollutants from wastewater.

Wastewater plant operators manage activities in a plant that stores, distributes and treats water for  safe disposal and domestic and commercial reuse, through the removal of pollutants and the treatment  of wastewater. They collect, test and analyse water samples as well as operate chemical-feeding devices for the treatment of wastewater. Some operators repair pumps and valves, reporting more serious defects if necessary.

Wastewater plant operators work in the plant site and may be exposed to potential hazards chemicals and unpleasant odours. They can engage with scientists and technicians in laboratories to process and analyse test samples.

Skills

Wastewater plant operators must have a thorough knowledge of plant mechanics and machinery and chemical principles. They also need an in-depth understanding of water quality standards and regulations. They will additionally benefit from:

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving competence
  • Strong organisational ability around plant activities
  • Keen attention to detail and accuracy
  • Skills to effectively manage plant operations

Tasks

Collect and test water and sewage samples 

Control equipment operation and treat wastewater with chemicals

Analyse test results and adjust plant equipment, chemical input and systems 

Inspect equipment and monitor conditions to detect malfunction

Studies

Wastewater plant operators can benefit from a General Certificate in Water and Wastewater Reticulation Services at National Qualifications Framework Level 2 to 4 offered at CPUT and the Water Academy. 

They can also benefit from a National Certificate in Water and Wastewater Treatment Practice at National Qualifications Framework Level 1 to 4 offered at Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges. However, most training takes place on the job with an experienced operator. 

Employers

Wastewater treatment plants.

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