July 2023 O&M Newsletter

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July 2023

In this issue:

Certification and Training Update.


Resources, forms, and guidance documents:

Information on the Department’s Wastewater Operator Certification Program can be found at the website  https://www.maine.gov/dep/water/wwoperator/.  The Additional Materials section provides links to training documents, forms, public and private training providers, and a calendar of upcoming training opportunities offered by non-profit organizations.  The calendar is emailed to certified operators monthly.

The NEIWPCC/JETCC website, https://jetcc.org/index.php provides information on signing up for an exam, training classes, and certification renewal.  Contact call Spring Conolly at certification@neiwpcc-jetcc.org or call 207-253-8020 for more information.

Save the Date for the Maine Water Utility Association (MWUA) Summer Outing

MWUA’s annual Summer Outing will take place on August 10 at the Cumberland fairgrounds. Training starts at 8:00 AM with lunch at noon.  Activities include training, water main tapping contest, and a corn hole tournament.  Food and networking will follow.  The Summer Outing event is a joint effort between MWUA and MEWEA. Stay tuned for more information, www.mwua.org or contact Bruce Berger at bberger@mwua.org.

Grades 1-5 Wastewater Exam Prep Courses at Southern Maine Community College (SMCC)

MWUA and JETCC are excited to join forces to offer you the best wastewater operator certification preparatory training around. We will kick off at SMCC in South Portland with combined Grades 1 & 2 followed by Grades 3, 4, & 5. An optional math primer will be offered to help prepare for either course. Tom Bahun from Tom’s Water Solutions will cover the first part (Grades 1 & 2) and the optional math, while Patrick Wiley from SMCC will cover the remaining grades.

The math primer will be August 3, Grades 1 & 2 will be August 8, 9, & 10 and Grades 3, 4, & 5 on August 15, 16, & 17.  All classes run 8AM-3PM.  Learn more at this link:


Management Candidate School (MCS) Returns

JETCC is pleased to announce the return of the Management Candidate School (MCS). The Class of 2024 will meet monthly at the Town of Yarmouth’s new public safety building beginning November 8, 2023.  MCS is a collaboration between JETCC, Maine DEP, Maine DHHS, Maine Water Environment Association (MEWEA), and the Maine Water Utilities Association (MWUA).

This 11-month training program provides the intensive training, networking, and skill-development coursework necessary to prepare the next generation of water and wastewater managers and leaders. Topics include budgeting, blueprint reading, engineering basics, construction planning, personnel management, media relations, and dealing with regulatory agencies.

With many of Maine's current water and wastewater managers at or near retirement age, it is hoped that the individuals who complete the MCS program will be able to continue the critical work of managing the state's water and wastewater treatment infrastructure. This exciting training program is aimed at mid-level operators with management potential.

For information about the upcoming MCS program, click here. For general information, contact Peter Zaykoski at JETCC pzaykoski@neiwpcc.org or (207) 253-8020.

MEWEA Begins New Peer-to-Peer Training Program

Join MEWEA in the new Peer-to-Peer training program.  The goal of Peer-to-Peer is to encourage wastewater operators, mechanics, lab techs, and managers to visit wastewater facilities to learn from the skills and experiences of others.  Participants will earn up to 3 TCHs that will be applied towards maintaining a wastewater license.

To participate in visiting a plant or hosting a visiting operator or analyst, please contact Alex Buechner at Alex.Buechner@Biddefordmaine.org.

MRWA’s Apprenticeship Program - Building Our Industry Workforce MRWA’s Apprenticeship Program is a nationally recognized program for candidates with limited or no experience. It is divided into three different tracks, Water, Wastewater, and Joint Water and Wastewater. Each apprentice is assigned a mentor during their time in the program. Our staff will work with facilities to help select mentors, provide coaching, and create a nationally recognized schedule of work. We will also provide the apprentice with technical training, including certification prep for professional licensure.   Interested in learning more? Candidates can submit their information for the program through this online application: CLICK HERE FOR APPLICATION

NEIWPCC Online Wet Weather Course Returns

NEIWPCC is pleased to announce we have published our new and improved version of an old favorite, Wet Weather Operations. This course is now available on our new in-house online self-paced learning platform where we are working to create an entire library of self-paced water and wastewater courses that can be accessed at anytime from anywhere with an Internet connection. For more information or to register, please click here.

DEP Chapter 531 Update

The Board of Environmental Protection recently adopted revisions to the Department rule Chapter 531 that covers wastewater treatment plant classification and operator certification requirements.  This completed a multi-year process that included stakeholder meetings and a public comment period.  When effective, the new rule can be found at this website:


Key changes include: reformatting and updates for clarity, changes from paper-based to computer-based testing, adding a definition section, revised classification of wastewater plants to include unit operations and complexity in the plant rating, steps a person must take to reinstate their certification following revocation, changes to contract operations (ConOps) requirements to allow up to 90-days of an interim contract pending Department approval of a final ConOps contract, a professional code of conduct to be followed by operators, a new Provisional operator classification, and changes to the education and experience requirements for certain grade levels.  The Department will be providing additional information about the ch 531 revisions on the Department’s training and certification website, https://www.maine.gov/dep/water/wwoperator/.  

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

DMR-QA Study 43.

DMR-QA Study 43 officially opened May 19th, 2023. A copy of the announcement letter was emailed to all participants, and can be found here:

EPA Discharge Monitoring Report - Quality Assurance (DMR-QA) Study 43 (2023).

Facilities can choose to participate in either the DMR-QA study or a Water Pollution (WP) study. For the DMR-QA study, all results must be reported to the DMR-QA supplier by August 4th, 2023. For the WP study, you must meet the WP study deadline, even if it is before August 4th. So be sure to pay attention to the open and close dates for the study being performed by your facility.

The NPDES Permittee Data Report Form (found on page 13 of the study packet) along with a copy of the graded test results and laboratory checklists are due to the State DMR-QA Coordinator (Brett.A.Goodrich@maine.gov) by September 29th, 2023.

If your laboratory happens to receive a “Not-Acceptable” score for one or more parameters, you must complete a corrective action and perform retests for all parameters with Not Acceptable results. A copy of the corrective action report and retest results must be sent to the State DMR-QA coordinator by November 9, 2023. 

If you have questions about the DMR-QA program, please contact Brett Goodrich at 207-287-9034 or Brett.A.Goodrich@maine.gov.

How To Emphasize Safety Using a Positive Approach.

Copyrighted material. Reprinted with permission from Water Otter, www.waterotter.com. The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection of the linked web sites, or the information, products or services contained therein.

It is easy to focus or point out what is wrong or unsafe, but do you look for the positive too? More importantly, do you highlight the good and thank or recognize people for their efforts and best practices? A few words of appreciation can go a long way and pay off in future behaviors.


  • Thanks for keeping setting up the confined space correctly and filling out the permit.
  • Your (worksite, office, truck) looks very clean and organized. Thank you.
  • It is appreciated that everyone is wearing their PPE. I know it can be hot and uncomfortable.

Some ideas that don't break the bank or eat up time might include:

  • Offer both public and private recognition. Offering praise to individuals who exceed safety standards can be a motivating and rewarding tool. Announcing employees who show safety excellence at a company meeting, through a newsletter, or private emailing the individual and their supervisor highlight best practice and safety measures in an intangible way.
  • Good Catch or Safety "Sightation" - (AKA “Observed You Working Safely”) or a Certificate of recognition. Not all rewards need to be tangible, such as offering money or time off. Reward Certificates or “caught being good” notices can be used to reward current and new employees who employ the safety best practice. They also allow you to highlight individuals or work groups to showcase their accomplishments. Visitors and contractors can also view the recognition and learn about the safety measures celebrated and emphasized by the company.
  • Emphasize safe practices. Measure what gets done by highlighting the timeliness and quality of inspections, permit completion, accident reporting, near misses and close calls, participation in an incident investigation and implementation of best practices to reduce in the future.
  • If you belong to an industry association or insurance pool, take advance and leverage safety award and/or grant programs. Be sure that this is known and highlighted by senior management.

The Environmental Health and Safety department at Ohio State University (OSU) has develop a “Good catch” program.  A good Catch is different than a Near Miss in that it recognizes an event or circumstance that had the potential to cause property damage or injury / illness but did not occur thanks to a correction action and/or timely intervention following the reporting. For more information about the Good Catch program, visit https://ehs.osu.edu/goodcatch.

About Water Otter:  Water Otter provides online continuing education tools for water and wastewater professionals through e-learning, an electronic resource library, community discussion forum, and management report tools, as well as working to raise public awareness about the value of the water/ wastewater industry.

For Practice.

I. What is the typical removal efficiency of settleable solids in a primary clarifier?

  1. 10 to 15%
  2. 20 to 50%
  3. 40 to 60%
  4. 95 to 99%

II. Which of the following is associated with thick billows of white sudsy foam in the aeration tank?

  1. Old sludge
  2. Low F/M ratio
  3. High F/M ratio
  4. High MLSS concentration

III. If the influent Total Suspended Solids (TSS) has a value of 230 mg/l, and the final effluent TSS is 6 mg/l, what is the percent removal?

  1. 9.4%
  2. 99%
  3. 95%
  4. 97%

IV. Which gas is the most abundant in a properly operating anaerobic digester?

  1. Hydrogen sulfide
  2. Nitrogen
  3. Carbon dioxide
  4. Methane

V. How many lbs of Total Suspended Solids (TSS) does a plant receive that has a flow rate of 72,000 gpd at a TSS concentration of 210 mg/L?

  1. 15.12 lbs
  2. 126.1 lbs
  3. 151.2 lbs
  4. 277 lbs

VI. The effluent flow from a wastewater treatment facility is 675,000 gallons per day. From the DMR, 92 pounds of BOD were discharged daily. What is the BOD concentration in the plant effluent?

  1. 16.34 mg/L
  2. 1.63 mg/L
  3. 0.5 mg/L
  4. 13.6 mg/L


I. - #4. 95 to 99%. The typical removal efficiency for settleable solids in a primary clarifier is 95 to 99%. 

II. -  #3. High F/M ratio. Thick billows of white sudsy foam in the aeration tank is often encountered during the start-up of a treatment plant.  In this stage, there aren’t many microorganisms in the aeration tank, but there’s plenty of food (BOD) coming in. When you calculate the F/M ratio, you’ll get a larger number because the “F” or food is a big number, while the “M” or microorganism population is fairly small.

Another characteristic that’s associated with thick billows of white sudsy foam in the aeration tank is young sludge, which is a group of microorganisms that hasn’t spent a lot of time in the aeration tank. Remember that thick billows of white sudsy foam in the aeration tank is associated with a high F/M ratio and young sludge.

III. -  #4. 97%. Use the formula (Influent-Effluent)/Influent X 100.  Do the subtraction in the parentheses first, then divide by the influent value, and lastly multiply by 100 to get a percentage.

IV. - #4. Methane. Methane is the most abundant gas in an anaerobic digester.  It accounts for about 65 to 70% of the digester gas.  The second most abundant gas is carbon dioxide, which accounts for about 30 to 35%.  Lastly, there’s a very small amount of hydrogen, nitrogen, and hydrogen sulfide, which account for a combined 1 to 2% (hydrogen + nitrogen + hydrogen sulfide).

V. -  #2. 126.1 lbs. Using the pounds formula, 0.072 MGD X 210 mg/L X 8.34 = 126.1 lbs

VI. - #1. 16.34 mg/L. Use the pounds formula and rearrange to solve for concentration (mg/L):

92 lb/ 0.675 MGD /8.34 = 16.34 mg/L.