It takes more than 380,000 highly skilled water and wastewater personnel to ensure the public supply of safe drinking water and to protect our lakes, streams and groundwater. Advancements in water treatment and supply technology have increased the skills and training required of this workforce. Water professionals are ultimately responsible for meeting stringent regulatory standards, replacing aging infrastructure, recruiting and training new operations specialists, and responding to and recovering from disasters.
In addition to increasing professional demands, utilities will soon be forced to replace many of their most experienced employees. Over the next decade, the water sector is expected to lose between 30 and 50 percent of the workforce to retirement. Many of these employees have worked at the same utility for the majority of their careers, and they will depart with decades of valuable institutional knowledge.
NRWA and State Affiliates currently provide training on operator certification, financial sustainability, environmental compliance, utility management and governance to 80,000 water professionals annually in all 50 states. Last year, over 55,000 on-site consultations were delivered by NRWA’s technical experts for water quality, energy efficiency, source water protection, technical assistance and emergency response.
The NRWA Apprenticeship Program will initially be tailored to water system operations specialists and wastewater system operations specialists. Additional apprenticeships programs are in the works for water utility system customer service personnel and technical assistance specialists.