HCWA partners with Southern Crescent Technical College
When Henry County Water Authority (HCWA) Deputy Manager Tony Carnell sits in H2Opportunity conference sessions at the Georgia Association of Water Professionals (GAWP), he continues to hear disturbing reports about the void in talent in the water industry being created from the increase in retirements by experienced water professionals.
Carnell’s concerns hit home, as the HCWA looks to recruit the most qualified young professionals to satisfy the various positions the Authority needs to fill to continue to operate as one of the best water and sewer utilities in the state. As a result, the HCWA is turning to Southern Crescent Technical College for help, with assistance coming from Murray Williams, Vice President of Adult Education, who was instrumental in re-establishing a partnership that began in 2018.
This relationship between the HCWA and Southern Crescent Technical College is forming to generate interest in the College’s Water Quality Technician Technical Certificate Program, which will include four courses totaling 12 credit hours. The Program will take students two semesters to complete, at a cost of $100 per credit hour.
Carnell says the HCWA will be offering incentives for its employees, in addition to paid internships for other young students, to enter the water profession, with Southern Crescent Technical College providing necessary technical training through the Water Quality Technician Certificate Program. The Program’s courses are among the College’s class schedule being offered this Spring, with a minimum of 10 students required to enroll for classes that commence in January.
“We are encouraging our employees and recruiting students to consider Certification as a Water Quality Technician,” says Carnell. “The good news is we are very confident that we can place these students in good paying jobs that offer a bright future in the industry,” adds Carnell. “The concern is that we’ll have position needs in our workforce that may otherwise go unfilled.”
The four courses being offered at Southern Crescent Technical College to complete the Water Quality Technician Certification include: ESCI 1010, which is Occupational Safety & Health Regulations; ESCI 1120, which is an Introduction to Water Treatment Processes; ESCI 1140, which is titled Wastewater Treatment; and ESCI 1260, which is titled Water Supply.
Once students complete the four courses, the Program then prepares them to take the state’s exam necessary to obtain their Water and Wastewater Treatment Operators Class III License. After passing the exam, students will need three months of work and on-the-job training for each certification, at a water or wastewater treatment facility such as those operated by the HCWA. At that time, they are able to apply for their Class III License.
Carnell says in addition to recruiting young students to enter the industry as a Certified Water or Wastewater Plant Operator, the Authority hopes to cross train its own workforce, encouraging those water professionals currently working in areas outside of Plant Operations to become certified with the entry level Class III License.
This added flexibility among the Authority’s workforce will help the utility accommodate its own talent drain created by retirees, while accommodating expected growth in the future. As evidence, the HCWA has a long-term capital improvement plan that entails approximately $930 million of investments in water and sewer infrastructure over the next 30 years.
“We are excited about the potential of a mutually beneficial partnership with Southern Crescent Technical College, to advance the objectives of a Water Quality Technician Technical Certificate Program,” says Lindy Farmer, HCWA General Manager. “We are like other water and sewer utilities across the state in that we want to cultivate talented young water professionals to fill the void in our workforce we’re expecting as older employees reach retirement age.”
Those interested in more information can contact Belinda Bentoski, Program Coordinator, at 770-914-4431 or Belinda.Bentoski@sctech.edu.
Chris Wood, Ph.D.