Marc Rivard – WCW Member Profile

Working-in-Water-logoWCW Member Profile – Marc Rivard

Name: Marc Rivard
Position: Water Utility Operator
Organization: Prairie View Municipality- Community of Birtle
Born and Raised: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


Prairie Horticulture Certificate – College of Agriculture-University of Sakatchewan (2005)

International Society of Arboriculture(ISA) Certified Arborist (2008)

Red River College- Civil Engineering Technology (2014)

IOIA Inspector Training (2013)

History in the industry and as a WCW member

I started working in the Town of Birtle’s Water Treatment Plant in December of 2013. I first attended school at Red River College in Winnipeg in March 2014. I then went to school again in May 2014 for 2 weeks at Red River College. I went back to school in October 2014 at Red River College. I challenged the last exam in order for me to be eligible for Class 1 Operator Certification after 1-year experience. Now let me tell you that my experiences in the first year were very stressful at times, but extremely valuable in learning. I am extremely grateful for all of the help I have received along the way especially from my Instructors at Red River College, the guys at Contech out of Winnipeg, the Environmental Officer, and Drinking Water Officer, and of course my co-workers that I get to work with on a daily basis.

2014 brought the threat of a major flood during the spring melt and then did bring us a major flooding event in June/July. We installed a block of water and sewer mains with service connections for a new development in late summer and as an early present, we repaired a break in the force main a week before Christmas. These events were all integral in my learning and development as a Water Utility Operator. I am a new member of WCW and as such am delighted to being a part of this special group of dedicated water Stewards.

There have been many highlights so far in my career in Water,  as I feel that anytime we can overcome adversity and face challenges that may be undesirable situations, we get a chance to grow and learn about ourselves, how we face adversity and ultimately how we can overcome these uncomfortable situations through teamwork and coordination.  A specific highlight of my career so far happened in January 2015.  When I attended the MWWA conference in Brandon MB, I was selected to receive the Jim Warrener Rookie Operator of the Year award. I was completely shocked but extremely happy and humbled that I was chosen for this award. A big thank you to those who thought I would make a suitable candidate for this award and nominated me!

Typical day

A typical day starts with a meeting in the Town shop with our PW staff discussing the days’ tasks, safety concerns, coordinating help if required, discussing what is going to happen that day, who will be where and doing what. Then I do my daily checks at the Sewage Pumping station, North Hill booster station, South Hill booster station, Water Reservoir pumping station- where I take a water sample for analysis, and then I head to the Water Treatment Plant. At the WTP I analyze several samples as a part of our license requirements as well as record values for our records. Once the testing has been completed I proceed to manually backwash our greensand filter system. The afternoons in winter generally consist of administrative work such as updating record keeping documents, working on a maintenance program and schedule, working with management on determining upcoming projects, compiling data, as well as continuing education through research and training.

The summer afternoons are spent on carrying out seasonal maintenance, locating and mapping infrastructure, exercising valves, flushing hydrants, as well as taking inventory of appertenances. Like most Water Utility Operators, I also help out where ever the Town needs an extra person, running a lawn mower, loader, dump truck, landfill, street sander, snow blower, etc.

Job Satisfaction

What I enjoy most about my current position is the varying tasks that need to be done on a daily, weekly, monthly and seasonal basis as well as having input into future projects be it planning and development to design and installation. I enjoy the ability to interact with ratepayers be it resolving an issue or concern as well as being able to educate the public about what is going on in the Water Utility. I also appreciate when I can participate in Continuing Education courses as this give me an excellent opportunity to learn and to network with other Operators and PW Foreman.

Variety, problem solving, and endless opportunities to learn something new about the position, the Town, as well as about myself are what keep me motivated to continue the current uphill climb.  I think that all the hard work and energy put into the climb will make the view from the summit that much sweeter and fulfilling.

Main challenges

Some of the main challenges I face in my current position are aging infrastructure, budget restraints, a lack of historical documentation (maps, dates), staffing issues/requirements, and most recently Provincially forced amalgamations. All of these challenges, in my mind, are opportunities to learn, to think outside the box at times, as well as opportunities to teach co-workers who are willing to learn.


Respect your elders; listen to what they have to say.

Ask lots of questions, even if they can’t be answered you may have planted a seed that will germinate an answer.

Talk to the seniors in the community- you would be surprised how much information is there waiting to be mined if you just ask and listen.

Be open to new ideas and methods, everyone has a valuable input.

When overwhelmed, step back, count to 10, and breathe deeply.

Ask for help when you need it!

Network, Network, Network! Talk with other Operators, Instructors, and Contractors.

Most importantly, find a way to enjoy the work you are engaged in at the moment.

Time away from work

My time away from work is generally spent travelling or at home; either in the trees, in the garden, or in the kitchen relaxing and enjoying the simple pleasures in life. Reading and writing are some of the activities that occupy my time away from work.