Water Treatment Plant Operator

Water security, for ecological security and domestic use is a high priority in a water scarce South Africa, with high rainfall variability, geographically and seasonally, further exacerbated by changing climate. The treatment of wastewater ensures the safe reuse of water, domestically and in industry, and helps to ensure water security. The removal of harmful contaminants in wastewater and the maintenance of water treatment infrastructure can assist in securing a complementary source of clean water for domestic and economic use.

Water treatment plant operators operate plant equipment and processes to store, treat and distribute water including water purification for domestic use and removing waste and contaminants from sewage water. They take and analyse samples throughout the treatment process to ensure adequate chemicals are added to purify the water. They also inspect equipment and monitor operating conditions to ensure they are functioning correctly and to detect potential malfunctioning within the treatment plant system.

Water treatment plant operators assist water quality analysts and water service technicians in analysing water quality and operating the treatment plant. They are exposed to harmful chemicals and substances, requiring them to wear protective clothing and equipment and may work extra hours during emergencies such as storm water surges.

Skills

Water treatment plant operators need knowledge of chemistry and understand the principles and procedures related to the operation and maintenance of a water treatment plant, along with:

  • Critical problem-solving and analytical skills
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Ability to troubleshoot basic machinery issues
  • Good physical stamina

Tasks

Collect and test water samples for chemical and bacterial content

Analyse test results to adjust plant equipment and systems

Perform security and safety checks on equipment and the plant

Complete and maintain plant logs and records

Studies

Diploma, Advanced Diploma, M.Tech in Water Science and Technology at TUT

Water treatment plant operators can benefit from a Further Education and Training Certificate or National Certificate in Water and Wastewater Treatment Practice at National Qualifications Framework Level 1 to 4 offered at CPUT and 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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