February 2023 O&M Newsletter

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February 2023

In this issue:

Training & Certification Update

Odd-Numbered Certification Renewals March 1, 2023

Now is the time to prepare for your 2023 renewal by completing any needed continuing education training and renewing your certification. If you have moved, contact the NEIWPCC South Portland office to ensure you receive important renewal notices.

Use this link to renew your certification online, check your TCHs, download forms, and read the certification policy:


For more information on how to renew your certification, contact Spring Conolly at 207-253-8020 or email certification@neiwpcc-jetcc.org.

Refer to the Department’s Wastewater Operator Certification Program website for details on certification renewal requirements: https://www.maine.gov/dep/water/wwoperator/.

Associations Offer In-Person Training

There are many benefits of online, virtual training: reduced costs, time-savings, greater flexibility and accessibility. Many people, however, are more comfortable and have better retention when they are in a traditional classroom setting with a live instructor. They find it easier to focus, ask questions, and interact with other attendees. To that end, here is a list of upcoming in-person training sessions and live conferences. Make sure to contact the organization to determine their attendance policies. And be on the look-out for the monthly training calendar that is emailed to all certified operators that contains both virtual and in-person options (also available on the DEP website: https://www.maine.gov/dep/water/wwoperator/ under Additional Material).

MRWA Training – For more information or to register, go to www.mainerwa.org or contact Andrew Snowman at andrew.snowman@mainerwa.org. or call 207-530-6073.

• Wastewater Cert. Exam Prep (III – V), 2/14-2/16/2023, MRWA Office, Richmond
This certification exam prep class will focus on advanced biological, physical, and chemical treatment for operators that are preparing for Levels III, IV, V exams.

• HDPE Pipe, Fittings, and Fusions. 3/14/23 and 9/14/23, EJP Bangor
Intro to HDPE pipe and fittings. An overview of fusion techniques: butt fusion, electrofusion, saddle fusion, and others. Type of fittings and components. How to select and work with HDPE fittings in a piping system. Technology updates.

• GIS/GPS Applications, 5/11/23, EJP Bangor
Participants in this workshop will learn how digital mapping and GPS tools can be used in managing rural water and wastewater systems.

MWUA Training – go to https://mwua.org/training/ to register.

• Emergency Table Top Exercise, 2/22/23-Farmington, 3/31/23-Houlton, 4/11/23-Bangor

Facilitated tabletop exercise to test response and mitigation of emergency response. Focus on mutual aid from neighboring utilities and resources from local, county and state agencies.

• Real-World Chemical Feed Pumps, 2/28/2023, Bangor and 3/1/2023, Portland

Water treatment is a crucial and everyday task with which most systems must contend. Treatment chemicals must be dosed correctly, otherwise, the health of the public, environment, system, and more can be significantly affected.

Join MWUA and Ti-SALES as they take a deep dive into everything chemical feed pumps. From the types of pumps, to how to choose the best pump, to tips, tricks, and accessories to improve your chemical dosing; this presentation is perfect for anyone new to chemical feed pumps or those simply looking for new solutions! Don’t miss out! Whether you're new to the industry or a seasoned professional, there's something for everyone. Free breakfast, coffee, and refreshments will be provided to all attendees.

JETCC/NEWEA – To register: https://jetcc.org/index.php.

• Sludge Management, 2/22/2023, Lewiston, ME

Join JETCC/NEWEA at Lewiston-Auburn Water Pollution Control Authority (LAPCA) to learn about one of the fundamental topics in wastewater: sludge management. This six-hour class will cover sludge thickening, dewatering, aerobic & anaerobic digestion, and handling & disposal. Weather permitting, attendees will tour the LAWPCA plant, including their digester facility. The final session of the day will include a group math activity.

Upcoming Conferences

MWUA’s 97th Annual Tradeshow & Conference – Looking Ahead

MWUA’s 97th Annual Tradeshow and Conference will be held on February 1st and 2nd, 2023 and will be hybrid/in-person at the Augusta Maine Civic Center. The event is Co-Sponsored by MEWEA .

The February conference has long served as the venue for the demonstration of new products and the exchange of operational tips and techniques. The Association’s Associate Members provide much in the way of resources and energy in order to make the Conference such a success. The Program Committee, the Directors and other volunteer members all contribute to this effort as well.

Go to www.mwua.org or contact Cindy Wade at cwade@mwua.org for more details.

The North Country Convention (NCC) Returns to Presque Isle!

Mark your calendars for the North Country Convention (NCC)’s return to Northern Maine Community College (NMCC) in Presque Isle on April 5 & 6, 2023.

This 2-day educational event and trade show held in "The County" is co-sponsored by NEIWPCC-JETCC, MEWEA, and MWUA. NCC is designed to bring water and wastewater professional together for technical sessions, exhibitor interaction, luncheon speakers, and opportunities to network with others. Each day offers 6 training contact hours for Water and Wastewater operators. Participation in the entire conference offers 12 hours of training.

For more information, go to www.jetcc.org.

Monthly Training Calendar

Every month the DEP emails to certified operators a list of upcoming training opportunities offered by non-profit organizations. The email also includes DEP-approved On-Demand classes taught by both public and private training providers. These lists are found on the DEP website, https://www.maine.gov/dep/water/wwoperator/ under Additional Materials. The website also lists DEP training policies, forms, and other resources.

For more information, contact Judy.K.Bruenjes@maine.gov.


Job Boards for Water and Wastewater Position Openings

Is your facility seeking to hire new water/wastewater personnel? Do you know someone looking for employment? Here are links to job boards where you can post your job openings or see water/wastewater position openings at other organizations:


Maine Water Environment Association (MeWEA)
Contact: Joan Kiszely (623-9511) jkiszely@mewea.org

Maine Water Utilities Association (MWUA)
Contact: Cindy Wade (623-9511) cwade@mwua.org

Maine Rural Water Association (MRWA)
Contact: Amanda Brill (248-7387) amanda.brill@mainerwa.org


New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA)

DEP is also hiring! Positions include environmental specialists, scientists, engineers, GIS, planning, administration, and more. Here are links to recruitment videos:

Facebook - https://fb.watch/8TXyUxG3z1/
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/tv/CUDsfYxM3nM/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6845825768077975552

More information on applying for jobs at DEP can be found at:



Monthly Problem Set / For Practice, February

1. For every 10 degree change in temperature the activity of the biomass changes:

a. One log growth (ten times)
b. 2 log growths (100 times)
c. Doubles
d. No significant change

2. As cold weather approaches, make sure stored equipment (valves, pumps, pipes) are

a. Completely drained or winterized with antifreeze
b. Set out to dry
c. Covered by insulated covers
d. Redundant

3. A temperature drop from 50 degrees F to 40 degrees F

a. Doesn’t really affect the bugs
b. May affect the bugs but does not require a change in operations
c. May require an MLSS increase.
d. May require a DO increase

4. In deep winter, you may need to increase the MLSS compared to the summer months by

a. 1000 times
b. 100 times
c. 10 times
d. 2-3 times the MLSS

5. Clarifier bed height during the winter months

a. May need to be increased compared to the summer months.
b. May need to be decreased compared to the summer months.
c. Should always remain empty during the winter to avoid gasification
d. Does not change during the winter compared to the summer

6. Oxidation ditches may experience problems during the winter months because they contain

a. Deep tanks that retain heat
b. Large surface area exposed to the cold weather
c. Heat-cooled mechanical mixers
d. Increased nitrification / denit

7. Microthrix parvicella, a filamentous bacteria that can cause serious foaming problems

a. Freezes in the ice and causes odors
b. Dies off in cold weather
c. Loves cold weather
d. Transforms to Nocardia in cold weather

8. Lagoons and once-through systems have a significant disadvantage during the winter because

a. I/I brings in cold water
b. RAS levels go over the roof
c. They cannot increase their RAS. This limits their ability to degrade BOD when the bacteria slow down due to the cold.
d. Equipment may freeze in the ice

9. Hazards operators may encounter during the winter months include:

a. Slip, trips and falls are major hazard
b. Hypothermia and exposure injuries
c. Overexertion and dehydration
d. Falling ice and snow
e. All of the above

10. One strategy for lagoons during cold weather is to:

a. Keep lagoon surface at high levels to allow longer detention time and minimize heat loss
b. Keep ice and snow from covering surface so algae has more surface area to grow
c. Run blowers to keep anaerobic gases from dissolving into the ice
d. Dig intermittent air holes so DO can enter the water from the atmosphere

Small Community Grant (SCG) Program Funding Requests

The Department is now accepting applications for SCG program funding requests to correct malfunctioning septic systems which directly or indirectly discharge sewage to waterbodies of the State or are causing public health problems. Grant applications will be accepted throughout the year, but will be reviewed on a quarterly basis. To be considered in the first round, Applications must be submitted by February 28th, 2023, before 5pm.

With the 130th Maine Legislature’s approval of Governor Mills’ The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, one-time funding in the amount of $3,000,000 has been allocated to the Small Community Grant program, administered by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). This funding was provided by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, to be used toward State Fiscal Recovery. In 2022, $1,000,000 was available for Municipalities to apply for projects, of which $768,000 was allotted to projects. The total remaining funds are available in 2023.

The Municipality must submit the Grant Application, to determine initially if the Owner(s) and system qualify for grant funds by providing the Applicant Information, Application Description of Existing Conditions, and Discharge Field Report forms which can be found at https://www.maine.gov/dep/water/grants/scgp.html along with more information about the program.

Please submit the Grant Application to Zoe.LeBlanc@maine.gov or by mail addressed to Zoe LeBlanc, SCG Project Engineer, Bureau of Water Quality, 17 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333-0017, by February 28th, 2023, before 5pm.

The Department will assess the applications and send out a letter to the Municipalities by March 17th, 2023, determining grant eligibility

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If you have any questions about the process, please contact Robert Hartley, SCG Coordinator by email at Robert.W.Hartley@maine.gov or by phone at (207) 881-9490.

Congratulations to NEWEA/WEF/EPA Award Recipients

NEWEA announced the 2022 NEWEA/WEF/EPA Award Recipients at the Awards Ceremony and Luncheon on January 25, 2023 during the 2023 Annual Conference & Exhibit in Boston, Massachusetts.

Below are listed the award recipients who hail from Maine. Congratulations to all!

Stockholm Junior Water Prize - Alexander Busko, Bangor, ME

Alfred E. Peloquin Award - Mark Holt, Livermore Falls, ME

Operator Award - Michael Courtenay, Warren, ME

Youth Educator Award - Philip Tucker, York, ME & Theresa Tucker, York, ME

Life Membership - John Hart, Buxton, ME


Update on Draft Rule Chapter 533


After reviewing all the public comments on the draft rule, staff believe there is value in re-engaging stakeholders to determine an effective path forward. 

Please contact Matthew Hight at matt.hight@maine.gov if you would like to participate as a stakeholder regarding this topic.


Update on Draft Rule Chapter 531

The Maine DEP proposes to repeal and replace Chapter 531, REGULATIONS FOR WASTEWATER OPERATOR CERTIFICATION.

Proposed changes to the current rule include: changes in state law, changes requested by stakeholders and updates to the format and language of the rule.

The formal rulemaking process was initiated on January 19, 2023, by the Board of Environmental Protection (BEP). The rule will be posted for public comment on February 1, 2023. The public comment period will end on March 6, 2023.

If you would like to review and/or comment on the rule, please check DEP’s web page for rulemaking proposals: https://www.maine.gov/dep/rules/index.html.


MRWA's 2022 Salary Survey is Now Available

The Maine Rural Water Association (MRWA) biennial Water and Wastewater Wage, Salary, and Benefits survey is now available for download.

This survey is designed to provide utilities in Maine with a valuable tool for comparing wage and benefit packages. It presents detailed insurance and retirement benefit information and low, median, and high wage rates for a wide range of job titles by system size.

The salary survey is on the website, https://www.mainerwa.org/ and is available to all members! Make sure you are logged in, and then click on the "Industry Surveys" tab under Members.

For more information, contact Amanda Brill at amanda.brill@mainerwa.org or (207) 737-4092 ext. 423.

Monthly Problem Set / For Practice Answers, February

1. a.
2. a.
3. c.
4. d.
5. a.
6. b.
7. c.
8. c.
9. e.
10. a.