California Water Environment Association

California. Talk to anyone involved in wastewater issues and the regulations that guide them, and sooner or later, the state of California and its cutting edge approach to environmental issues comes up in the conversation.
“Green” technologies, professional certifications, safeguards for groundwater and onsite sewage systems—the West Coast seems to be where many of the innovative guidelines originated. Whether these are perceived as intrusive government intervention or much-needed safeguards, California tends to be at the forefront of environmental issues, especially as they relate to wastewater.
Playing a big role in those guidelines, and assisting its 9,000-plus wastewater professionals, is the California Water Environment Association.
The not-for-profit agency, based in Oakland, trains and certifies its members through a highly structured system of 17 local geographical regions. The association also recently introduced online testing for certification, and it works closely with people in other states, said CWEA President Darren Greenwood.
The group distributes technical information and promotes policies that benefit the community by protecting water sources and their environments. Greenwood concurred that many of the newest safeguards and regulations that seem to be pushing the wastewater industry have originated in California. For that reason, CWEA has worked closely with state officials and has been at the vanguard of industry certification and training. The California Water Environment Association plays a key role in bringing professionalism to the wastewater industry. To meet that goal, the group provides certification and training opportunities to its members throughout the year. Greenwood stated that CWEA is the main training source for people actively working in the wastewater field.
“We train over 6,000 people a year between our annual conference, specialty conferences and our 17 local section levels, each of which offers training,” he shared. “There’s training going on all the time with CWEA.”     
The association’s website states: “In the wastewater industry, every employer has a general obligation to perform due diligence in ensuring the competency of the personnel providing services at public facilities. Wastewater certification provides employers with evidence that the certificate holder has demonstrated a certain level of job-related knowledge, skills and abilities.”
The CWEA “Provides a documented level of assurance that employees are competent in safe work practices. Certification provides concrete evidence to board members and citizens that the agency is staffed with people who know what they are doing and [are] competitive in any comparison of quality of service.”
Currently, the CWEA has certification opportunities that include collection system maintenance, wastewater treatment plant maintenance, laboratory analysis, biosolid land application management, environmental compliance inspection, and industrial treatment plant operations.
CWEA, which began in 1927, hosted its annual conference just last month in Sacramento, Greenwood. The event drew about 1,100 wastewater professionals.
This year’s 82nd annual conference was held at the Sacramento Convention Center. With the theme, “Oceans of Opportunities,” the conference was packed full of training opportunities, educational exhibits and the much-anticipated conference socializing.
CWEA had eight pre-conference workshops, along with five technical tours that gave attendees a chance to see innovative projects and pioneering facilities around the Sacramento area. For example, tours included a visit to a biosolids recycling facility and the always-popular tour of the Gladding McBean Company, a leading manufacturer of clay pipe, a mainstay in the industry. The conference also offered more than 150 technical sessions, along with rooms and corridors filled with technical and equipment exhibits.
Greenwood said the conference had many built-in opportunities for attendees to spend informal time networking, an important component of any successful industry get together. “You learn from your peers how to solve the problem you have or are dealing with,” he said.

Story by Marie Elium

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