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What is a Wastewater Operator and what do they do?

Wastewater Operator. Chances are, the first thing you thought of when hearing about the job was “waste”. When I first heard of it, I thought of waste too. Human waste. However, not all wastewater operators treat human waste.

In fact, many wastewater operators work in the industrial sector. Many businesses, especially in the manufacturing sector, produce waste.  Anything that changes the environment, even things such as temperature and pH are considered to be ‘waste’ not all waste is toxic waste but some of it can be and all waste needs to be treated before going back out to the environment.

It is a wastewater operator’s job to treat the outgoing waste (also known as the effluent).

Common industries that produce waste are companies that work in the food processing, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, metal plating, and other industries.

How does an operator treat outgoing waste?

The process for treating waste is very similar in most industries. Let’s use the example of chemicals used in a pharmaceutical company. If the person working in a lab washes chemicals down the drain, those chemicals need to go somewhere. Those chemicals end up in a pH neutralization tank. When the chemicals reach the tank, acids and bases are mixed in. The reason for doing this is to make the pH of the mixture neutral. Having a neutral pH makes the mixture safe to deposit into environment. A wastewater operator is responsible for monitoring that process. Checking the pH levels, making sure the machine is mixing correctly, monitoring the influent and effluent levels are all things that a wastewater operator does.

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) sets the federal standards for waste treatment and the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) sets the standards for the state level here in Massachusetts. Wastewater operators play a critical role in making sure their companies stay within both federal and state regulations for waste treatment. Aside from staying in compliance, wastewater operators play an important role in making sure our communities stay safe by making sure our oceans, rivers, and streams are free from toxic waste.

To learn how to become a licensed industrial wastewater operator, click here to register for our class.