A brief sketch of history regarding the world’s population and advancement in water technologies shows a progressive look at how different methods and legislation have paralleled our dependence on water (see Figure 1). As times have changed, water treatment dealers have had to adjust accordingly in what steps to take in managing the Earth’s most important resource. In addition, preparing the workforce for evolving technologies is paramount in keeping a business thriving well into the 21st century. Thus, proper training in advanced water treatment methods is more important than ever.
More than a trend
Recent news articles talk about levels of pharmaceutical drugs found in natural waters that may alter the reproductive activity of fish and other aquatic organisms. Most surface waters have been allocated to users so that there’s little to none left for future needs. Much of the well water is being pumped faster than it can be recharged.
Bottled water is the fastest growing beverage. People are paying over a dollar for a liter (quart) of bottled, purified water. With information at our fingertips via the Internet and greater media attention, the average person knows more about water quality and water treatment technologies than ever before. In many places, residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial water users must use low quality feed water and treat it to acceptable standards using technologies that often include clarification, media filtration, microfiltration, ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, reverse osmosis (RO), ultraviolet irradiation, degasification, ion exchange and/or a host of other technologies.
In more arid, water scarce areas, the only choice is now to desalinate (removing the salts) seawater or highly brackish water. This requires membrane filtration (RO) or distillation technologies.
The key to your success
Water treatment is becoming more technical every day. As a small water treatment dealer, are you ready for the ever-increasing pace of challenges and opportunities? Are you prepared to tackle more complex water treatment problems? Do you and your people have sufficient knowledge to keep up with the changes in high-tech water treatment?
Education is the key to being prepared for current and future opportunities. Without the proper water treatment education, you risk making costly mistakes and are at the mercy of others to recommend solutions you’re unable to provide. Also, you won’t have the ability to verify the accuracy of solutions and likely could increasingly miss out on new business altogether.
If you are a business owner or manager, you must make the decision of how much education you want you and—just as importantly—your staff to have. Educating employees is sometimes a difficult decision for owners and managers. How much do you want to invest in someone who may later leave you or, worse yet, become a competitor?
The answer may lie in the results of two Gallup Poll studies1 of 80,000 managers and over a million employees. The purpose of the studies was to find out what made certain individuals, groups or companies excel above others. Of the 12 reasons given, three of them concerned developing employees. In short, investing in the growth of employees was a major component of the most successful and profitable companies. Gallup also found that the turnover rates at these top-performing companies were dramatically lower.
Are you one of the best?
The best owners and managers aren’t hesitant in growing themselves and their employees. But where do you go for training?
Water treatment training is in its infancy. Most local community colleges and universities don’t have courses specific to water treatment. For those that do, most will focus on the operation and maintenance of municipal drinking water and wastewater plants. While this is excellent and useful training, it will not cover most of the technologies used in high-tech water treatment.
To be best prepared for current and future water treatment opportunities, a certain amount of knowledge is needed in many areas including: safety, reading design drawings, chemistry, math, microbiology, piping, valves, pumps, motors, motor control, electricity, hydraulics, instrumentation, PLCs (programmable logic controllers), interpersonal communication and technical writing. That’s a lot of knowledge! Attending a college or university to acquire these skills will require tons of classes and time. The worst part is that the classes will not be specific to water treatment, so only a certain percentage of the information learned will be directly applicable.
Where to turn
There are sources that are solely dedicated to water treatment and/or have dedicated programs in water treatment. They include: Water Quality Association (WQA), American Water Works Association (AWWA), Gateway Community College (Phoenix), Arizona Western College (Yuma) and San Juan Community College (Farmington, N.M.).
The WQA has an extensive array of training materials and certification steps designed specifically for the point-of-use/point-of-entry (POU/POE) residential/commercial industry. To access its training materials, the website is www.wqa.org
The AWWA is devoted to the municipal drinking water industry. It has a large amount of training material. AWWA programs may be accessed at www.awwa.org
One of the main training programs for drinking water industry is a textbook-based training program call the “Sacramento Course” which was developed at the University of California at Sacramento. For more information on this course contact www.owp.csus.edu
Gateway Community College was sponsored by several Phoenix-area microelectronics manufacturers—including Intel, Motorola and Honeywell—to create a four-semester high purity, water treatment, associate degree program. Students train on “live” equipment as well as in the classroom. For information on this program, contact www.gwc.maricopa.edu/aop/wastewater.html
Arizona Western College, in association with a training and consulting firm and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), offers a four-semester associate of applied science degree in advanced water treatment. The program is located at the Yuma Desalting Plant, owned by the USBR, which is the largest RO facility in the world. Students’ training occur on “live” equipment and in the classroom.
San Juan College offers a four-semester, on-campus associate of applied science degree in industrial water treatment. Training on “live” equipment and classroom work are offered. The same degree may be obtained by correspondence, without attendance at the campus. Beginning in the fall of 2001, an accelerated version of the program will be offered, which will require around four months on campus.
The world of water treatment is changing rapidly. The speed of change is increasing. The exponential growth of the human population will likely result in an increasing need for high-tech water treatment. The available supply of low-cost water is dwindling. Lower quality feed waters must be treated to potable and higher standards.
Simply put, the industry requires more purified water. For example, the faster the speed of a computer processor, the purer the water must be that’s used in the manufacturing of the microprocessor. There are several relatively new water treatment technologies currently in use. More are on the horizon.
Those individuals and companies that provide excellent products and services have a very bright future in store. However, they will achieve excellence only through preparation and training. Make sure you’re not locked out of rapidly expanding opportunities.
- Buckingham, M., and C. Coffman, “First Break All The Rules,” Simon & Schuster, New York, 1999.
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