WHEREAS municipalities are required to have their water and wastewater facilities operated by certified water and wastewater operators; and
WHEREAS there has been an extreme shortage of certified operators in the Province of Alberta; and
WHEREAS most municipalities continue to have serious difficulties recruiting certified operators; and
WHEREAS most municipalities do not have the financial resources to hire additional operators while they undertake becoming certified operators in Alberta; and
WHEREAS the Province does not currently have an “Apprentice Certification Program” to assist in ensuring there are a sufficient number of trained operators in Alberta;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that AAMDC lobby the Provincial Government to initiate a water and wastewater operator “Apprentice Certification Program” to ensure there is a sufficient number of certified operators in the Province of Alberta.
To lobby the Province of Alberta to establish an “Apprentice Program” to assist municipalities in bringing on more qualified municipal water and wastewater system operators.
Many municipalities in Alberta are having a very difficult time finding Certified Operators for their water and wastewater systems. In particular, the Newell Regional Services Corporation (NRSC) which is a municipal corporation representing 6 municipalities in the County of Newell area advertised several times for certified operators with no success. Many other municipalities that we have spoken to in southeastern Alberta are having the same problem and it really puts the health and safety of Albertans at risk with the shortage of Certified Operators in the Province.
Alberta Advanced Education and Technology has had many great successes in other areas to provide accessible, affordable and high quality learning opportunities for Albertans and Municipal Affairs administers the very successful Municipal Internship Program.
Alberta legislation requires municipal water and wastewater facilities to have one or more certified operators to supervise day-to-day operations. Each facility’s operating approval specifies the certification operator requirements, which is out of the control of the municipality. Most small municipalities do not have the capacity or funding to hire and train new operators and that puts the future or the Water and Wastewater Systems at a very high risk.
As a result, the County of Newell would request that the Province of Alberta establish an apprenticeship program that would assist municipalities in attracting and training professionals for their water and wastewater systems.
The AAMDC has no current resolutions directly related to this issue.
Municipal Affairs acknowledges the importance of municipal water and wastewater facilities being operated by certified water and wastewater operators, as well as the difficulty that municipalities often experience in recruiting and training certified water operators. Water operator certifications are administered by Alberta Environment.
There are two associations that aid water operators:
• The Alberta Water and Wastewater Operators Association provides information, training and scholarships for training to its members.
• The Western Canada Water and Wastewater Association provides conferences, training and resources for water operators.
The process of becoming a certified water and wastewater operator requires specific training, which is already provided by different ministries, secondary education institutions, and associations. The required technical knowledge needed to work with water operators requires a different skill set and approach than that utilized in the Municipal Internship Program, and would be better offered by other sources with the specific expertise.
Alberta legislation requires that specified municipal water and wastewater facilities have one or more certified operators to supervise day-to-day operations. To help ensure proper operation and maintenance of these facilities, and to protect the health of its citizens and the environment, the Alberta Environment Water and Wastewater Operator Certification Program was developed.
This program does not, however, include an apprentice certification program. As such, this resolution will be referred to Alberta Advanced Education and Technology for a supplementary response.
In responding to this resolution, Municipal Affairs outlined opposition to using the Municipal Internship Program to deliver this program, and Alberta Environment referred the issue to Alberta Advanced Education and Technology. The AAMDC has not yet received a response from Alberta Advanced Education and Technology, and sent a follow-up letter in May 2011. No response to that letter has been received.
The AAMDC has recently been made aware of a project being undertaken by the Alberta Water and Wastewater Operators Association (AWWOA) called Closer to Home – Smaller Centres Water and Wastewater Operator Renewal Initiative. The goal is to strengthen and renew capacity for water and wastewater in Alberta’s small rural centres. The AAMDC has corresponded with AWWOA on this project and will offer its support and collaboration where possible. Recruitment materials and tools developed by the AWWOA were distributed to AAMDC members in a June 8 2011 member bulletin.