Water and Wastewater Operations

Exploring Possibilities in Water and Wastewater Operations Careers

There are a variety of challenging and rewarding careers in supplying and treating water as well collecting and responsibly treating and returning it to the environment once it has been used.

This video provides an introduction to working in water and wastewater operations. It is the first segment in a series of short videos featuring water and wastewater professionals working in a range of communities across western Canada. It has been designed to help you with your career exploration, career investigation and/or career re-direction planning and research.

Companion Video Segments

Supplementary Guides

Career Descriptions

Water Treatment Plant Operators Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators Water Distribution Operators Instrument Technicians Facility Maintenance Water Meter Reader Job Resources


Water Treatment Plant Operators are responsible for providing safe water to drink. This process includes chemical addition, coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, pH adjustment, and disinfection. Because these functions occur 24 hours a day, a plant operator must sometimes work night shifts. Typical duties are:

  • Monitoring computerize controls to ensure the proper water flow, pressure, disinfection, and power generation levels;
  • Collecting water samples for laboratory tests on water quality, disinfection levels, taste and odor, and more;
  • Inspecting processes and equipment for proper operation;
  • Calculating chemical mixtures and usage levels;
  • Inspecting for chemical leaks and failures;
  • Training new employees;
  • Recording data and reports on water quality required by state and federal governments

Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators remove pollutants from wastewater so that it is safe to discharge to receiving waters. The process can involve settling, biological treatment, flocculation, coagulation and settling as well as disinfection and filtration. Solids handling is part of the wastewater treatment process. Many plants run for 24 hours and require working nights. Typical duties are:

  • Operate/maintain pumps and valves
  • Read and adjust various types of instrumentation which control equipment and processes
  • Operate chemical feed systems
  • Perform lab analysis
  • Troubleshoot process upsets
  • Maintain official records
  • Maintain certification through continuous training
  • Train new employees

Water Distribution OperatorsA Water Distribution Technician/ Operator performs a multifaceted job within the scope of a municipal setting. The water distribution system is sub ground and is the delivery portion of a water system to a residents home or business. For the most part this technician/operator works outside a physical plant or building. With hydrants and valve boxes making up the only visible portion in the system a Technician/ Operator must rely heavily on his/her investigative skills to solve the many questions and problems that this interesting field brings to our industry. As the majority of the system has been installed many years ago the staff member must use historical data to perform tasks in the field and to assess a minor to major event. A Water Distribution Technician/ Operator can perform a number of tasks in the field from water quality testing which ensures safe, potable water to emergency response to a serious event like a water break.


Instrument Technicians install, modify, maintain and repair instrumentation used in measurement and control systems. In the water industry, these instruments measure temperature, water quality, water levels and flow. Accurate collection of water data is essential in the regulatory environment of water. Examples of the many different devices they work on that are designed to take measurements relating to water, including sensors, pumps, flow meters, probes, gauges and thermometers. Typical duties are:

  • Operate varied measuring devices and equipment
  • Install, repair and maintain electronic instruments and control systems
  • Examine and test faulty electronic instruments and control systems to identify faults
  • Undertake calibration and make sure there is correct operation of instrumentation equipment
  • Teach operators how to use equipment
  • Work in collaboration with people in other professions, such as electricians, pipefitters, engineers, data collectors and scientists.


Facility Maintenance Staff – are responsible for maintaining and repairing any equipment used in the water and wastewater treatment processes. Maintenance staff may also be responsible for pumping stations, distribution and collection systems, and general building upkeep. Staff may also be required to follow a preventative maintenance plan. Regular duties may include

  • repair and maintenance of pumps
  • repair and maintenance of airlines
  • repair and maintenance of chemical feed systems
  • fabrication/ replacement of parts
  • cleaning of tools, safety equipment, and work areas


Water Meter Reader – will regularly read the water meters of houses, businesses, and industries to determine water usage. This is necessary for billing the owner of the property for both water and wastewater services. A water meter reader will also assist with the installation, repair, and servicing of meters. They may also be responsible for turning the water supply on or off at a location.

Job Resources:

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