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Water and Wastewater Professionals Workforce Week

Two staff overlooking part of the Kalamazoo Waste Water Treatment Plant
Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

Water and Wastewater Professionals Workforce Week

Join us as we spotlight the essential water and wastewater professionals who provide water services to Michigan residents.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued a proclamation declaring Dec. 11-17, 2023 as Water and Wastewater Professionals Workforce Week honoring the dedication of the state's highly trained operators, technicians, administrative professionals, and all other specialists who work to ensure Michigan communities have safe and reliable drinking water and that rivers and lakes are both fishable and swimmable.

Michigan has thousands of certified operators and other water professionals who work behind the scenes to keep the tap flowing and toilets flushing. The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, has projected that 8.2 percent of existing water operators will need to be replaced annually between 2016 and 2026.

Michigan's water industry is essential to the health and success of our state, and offers a wide variety of rewarding career opportunities in the fields of Engineering, Biology, Finance, Chemistry, Business Administration, Communications, Trade Skills, and many other high-demand occupations.

Upcoming webinars

pen resting on top of blank form

Drinking Water Webinar - Safe Drinking Water Act Review Recording 

December 12 10:00 AM

The Safe Drinking Water Act can be an intimidating and difficult document for water professionals to navigate.  Join EGLE for this presentation to review the various parts of the Act in an easy-to-understand format.  Each part of the Act will be described including the requirements covered and how they are used to determine compliance of a water system. 

Two individuals reviewing a printed document

Joint Drinking Water/Wastewater Webinar – Water and Wastewater Technical Assistance

December 13 10:00 AM

This webinar aims to provide information for water and wastewater municipal systems who are interested in learning more about training and technical assistance provided by EGLE and EPA. Additionally, EPA and SRF funding opportunities and resources will be briefly discussed. Don’t miss out on the chance to learn more about technical assistance opportunities and how they can benefit you and your community. 

Close up of a man writing a permit

Wastewater Webinar – Collection System Operator Certification and CMOM Permit Requirements

December 14 10:00 AM

This webinar will present information to water and wastewater operators who oversee collection systems, and superintendents of contributing municipalities.  The proposed collection system facility classification and operator certification requirements under Part 41 of NREPA will be discussed. You won’t want to miss out on this opportunity to learn about the proposed operator certification requirements and how these systems will be permitted. 

A message from EGLE Director Phil Roos Video

A message from EGLE Director Phil Roos

We are delighted to honor the dedication of the state's highly trained operators, technicians, administrative professionals, and all other specialists who work to ensure Michigan communities have safe and reliable drinking water and rivers and lakes are both fishable and swimmable.

Michigan Water and Wastewater Professionals Week 2023

Wastewater Operator Spotlight Stories

EGLE Water Resources Division wants to thank the wastewater and storm water operators in the State of Michigan for keeping our waterways safe and protecting the environment. Below are stories from District Staff members celebrating the work you do every day. 

  • Jerry Patrick started working for French Paper in February 2021, where he assumed the duties of a paper mill wastewater treatment plant operator and industrial storm water operator.

    The paper mill had a history of copper exceedances, a struggling treatment system, and poor housekeeping. He quickly got up to speed with the needs of the facility in time for a joint NPDES and Industrial Storm Water inspection in February 2022. This inspection found notable housekeeping and operational violations that were the result of years of neglect.

    Jerry stepped up to the plate and put the time and work to prioritize compliance. During follow-up inspections, Jerry was eager to share with EGLE staff the progress he had made.

    By September 2022, the President of French Paper (who attended the most recent inspection) exclaimed, “This is the cleanest that French Paper has looked in over 20 years!” Due to Jerry’s dedication and determination, French Paper has returned to compliance.

  • Majid Khan is the Director of Operations at the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) located in Detroit at the confluence of the Rouge River into the Detroit River. The GLWA WRRF is the largest single-site treatment facility in North America, serving 2.9 million people and treating up to 970 MGD through full secondary treatment, and up to 1,700 MGD through primary treatment during wet weather.

    Majid is a very skilled and accomplished wastewater professional. One significant achievement is overseeing the construction and start-up of the River Rouge Outfall (RRO) project, which provides disinfection of all wet weather discharge from the WRRF. Prior to the RRO facilities being online in April 2019, between 3 to 15 million gallons of excess wet weather flow was discharged annually without disinfection. The RRO project provides a sustainable and cost-effective means for management of excess wet weather flows, reduces fecal concentrations to the receiving waters, and protects public health and the environment.

    Additionally, Majid and his team have been instrumental in helping the state to meet its goal to reduce phosphorus loading by 40% to the West Lake Erie Basin by 2025. By optimizing ferric chloride dosage at the WRRF, the GLWA WRRF achieved the state’s goal for phosphorus reduction by 2019, while maintaining compliance with the NPDES permit’s phosphorus limits.

    In addition to being recognized as a regional wastewater operations leader, Majid is the co-chair of the steering committee for Michigan Cleaner Lake Erie through Action and Research (MI CLEAR). While he has headed operations at the WRRF, the facility has consistently achieved compliance with its NPDES permit, resulting in termination of an Administrative Consent Order. Through Majid’s hard work and dedication, he has demonstrated leadership and expertise in the field of wastewater operations.

  • Josh Teeter is the wastewater treatment plant superintendent at Galien River Sanitary District in New Buffalo.

    He is an eager learner who is always identifying creative ways to maintain compliance and efficiency. Josh shows great pride in his plant and enjoys giving tours to anybody who is interested in learning more about the plant and its operations. Galien River Sanitary District has a work environment that promotes quality of work and leadership by example.

    Josh exhibits the traits of the best of the wastewater operators in Michigan such as transparency, integrity, and ingenuity. 

  • Elizabeth McLeod is relatively new to the wastewater industry and has been working her way up for the last few years. She successfully completed pre-requisite courses and subsequently passed exams for the A-1f, A-2b, and C-3b industrial wastewater certifications. Additionally, she holds municipal wastewater certification in L2, L1 lagoon systems.

    Elizabeth is learning the ropes of being a new operator and is very enthusiastic and willing to learn. Elizabeth is now the Director of Clam Union Utilities (Ebel’s General Store) in Falmouth, MI, and has a keen interest in lab work and biology. 

    I would like to recognize Elizabeth for her work as a wastewater operator and hope that learning about her story will encourage others to join or have interest in the industry. 

Protecting Distribution System Water Quality

Just because high quality water is produced at the treatment facility doesn’t mean that the job is done.

Maintaining water quality throughout the entire distribution system is also essential.

Video produced by the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP). For more information, visit RCAP.org

Protecting Distribution System Water Quality Video
Drinking Water EnviroScape® Demonstration Video

Drinking Water EnviroScape® Demonstration

As part of the EGLE Environmental Education Resource Lending Station, this model provides users a hands-on, interactive way to demonstrate how water makes its way from surface water and ground water to the water treatment plant and ultimately to their home.

Want to borrow this model for your classroom?

Contact us at EGLE-Classroom@Michigan.gov

Fun facts about Michigan's water and wastewater workforce!

There are over 4,630 certified Drinking Water Operators in the state of Michigan!

There are over 1,700 municipal Wastewater Operators and over 1,600 industrial Wastewater Operators in the state of Michigan!

There are over 16,000 Industrial and Construction/Soil Erosion Storm Water Operators in the state of Michigan!

There are 398 wastewater treatment plants spread throughout the state of Michigan!

Almost 75% of Michigan's public water supply customers are served by a surface water supply; the remaining 25% are served by a groundwater supply.

Great Lakes Water Authority is the largest single-site Wastewater Treatment Plant in all of North America. It serves approximately 2.8 million people over Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne Counties.

An EGLE staff member standing on a landing at a wastewater treatment plant conducting sampling on a sunny autumn day
An EGLE staff member standing on a landing at a wastewater treatment plant conducting sampling on a sunny autumn day

Curious about careers in water and wastewater?

No matter your skills or interests, there is a career for you in water. It takes a variety of positions to help ensure Michiganders have clean water, and there is a substantial and immediate demand for workers in these fields. Careers in water operations are stable and offer competitive salaries and opportunities for growth.


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Toilet Trouble & Waste Water at Earth Day 2018 Video

Toilet Trouble & Waste Water at Earth Day 2018

Clarence and Jonathan teach kids the important lesson of where their poop goes.

It's not as simple as you'd think to manage our waste. Get a brief overview of the process in this video!