November 2023 O&M Newsletter

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November 2023

In this issue:

Certification and Training Update

Renewal Letters in Mail for Even Numbered Operators

For those operators who need to renew their certification by March 1, 2024, renewal letters were sent by mail last month If you have moved or changed your address, please contact Spring Connolly, or call 207-253-8020.

You can renew online at Also use the website to check your Total Contact Hours (TCH) totals.

Upcoming Conferences

MRWA – 43rd Annual Conference and Trade Show, December 5-7, 2023

Join us for our Annual Conference and Trade Show at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, Maine. Located a short walk from downtown Bangor, the Cross Insurance Center is the perfect place to make new connections in the industry this year. For more information visit:

NEWEA - Annual Conference & Exhibit, January 21-24, 2024

NEWEA is excited to connect in person with our water industry colleagues at the 2024 Annual Conference & Exhibit, taking place at the Boston Marriott Copley Place, Boston, MA, January 21-24, 2024. Visit to register.

MWUA – Annual Tradeshow & Conference, January 31- February 1, 2024

Maine Water Utilities Association is excited to announce our 98th Annual Tradeshow & Conference. Once again, this event will be held at the Augusta Civic Center on January 31st and February 1st, 2024. Not only will there be numerous technical training sessions, but there’ll also be many exhibitors displaying their products and who are excited to chat with you and answer your questions. Registration is coming soon, and we hope you’ll join us for valuable technical information, comradery, food, and fun. We look forward to seeing you there! Check the link here for more details:

Training Highlights

Alfond Center Offers 50% Training Reimbursement

The Alfond Center for the Development of Maine’s Workforce is offering a 50% match for Workforce Development training. For more information on this funding opportunity, visit the Center’s website, or contact Edward Wright at or (207) 227-2603.

Veolia Academy Offers Free Water/ Wastewater Online Training

Workforce is one of the top three stressors among all water and wastewater utilities in the United States. It all starts with finding qualified candidates, a barrier to entry that holds many back from achieving operator status.

To address this industry-wide problem, Veolia Academy is now offering online water and wastewater training classes FREE OF CHARGE. Many of these classes are approved by the Maine DEP for continuing education credit.

For more information about the online, self-paced education platform, visit

Management Candidate School (MCS)

JETCC is pleased to announce that they are now accepting applications for its next Management Candidate School (MCS) class. Classes will meet monthly at the Yarmouth Public Safety Building and are scheduled to begin November 8, 2023. ACT NOW! Application deadline is October 18th. Space is limited and selected candidates will be notified by October 23rd.

This exciting training program is aimed at mid-level operators with management potential. Topics include management courses, technical courses (such as engineering basics and construction planning), and skills training in areas of personnel management, communication, dealing with regulatory agencies, and budget preparation. Visit JETCC’s website for more information.

This class is eligible for the 50% Alfond Center reimbursement, Contact Edward Wright for more information, or (207) 227-2603.

Wastewater Operator School (WOS)

Wastewater Operator School is returning in January 2024. This 6-month, 12-session program is designed to give in-depth training to entry level operators, technicians, and others seeking to increase their understanding of biological wastewater treatment concepts. The program includes demonstrations, treatment plant tours, applied wastewater math, and practice questions to help understand concepts and prepare for certification exams. Beginning January 4, 2024, classes will meet every other week at Portland Water District and other southern Maine treatment facilities. Visit JETCC’s website for more information.

This class is eligible for the 50% Alfond Center reimbursement, Contact Edward Wright for more information, or (207) 227-2603.

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

Certification Resources, forms, and guidance documents:

Information on the Department’s Wastewater Operator Certification Program can be found at the website 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, provides information on signing up for an exam, training classes, and certification renewal. Contact call Spring Conolly at or call 207-253-8020 for more information.

JETCC Advisory Board Opening

The Joint Environmental Training Coordinating Committee (JETCC), a program partner of NEIWPCC, was established in 1985 to help protect the environment, public health and quality of life in Maine by coordinating affordable, high-quality training for environmental professionals throughout the state.

Currently, the JETCC Advisory Board has an opening for an At-Large position. The Board meets once per quarter to advise JETCC on programming, budgets, funding, etc. Members are appointed by the DEP Commissioner for a term of 3 years.

If you are interested in becoming involved with the JETCC Board to enhance water/ wastewater training in Maine, please contact Peter Zaykoski at, 207-253-8020.

Monthly Problem Set / For Practice, November

1. Sources of nitrogen found in the influent include

a. Amine cleaning agents
b. Urea
c. Fertilizers
d. All of the above

2. Different forms of nitrogen found in raw wastewater influent include

a. Nitrogen gas
b. Nitrification
c. Ammonia and organic nitrogen
d. Nitrates and nitric acid

3. TKN stands for:

a. Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen
b. Total Kinetic Nitrogen
c. Trivalent Kjeldahl Nitrate
d. Total Kellogg Nutrient

4. You would expect to see the highest TKN levels

a. In the RAS
b. In the WAS
c. In the influent
d. In the effluent

5. Typical ammonia levels in the influent are in the range (mg/L)

a. 0.25 to 0.30
b. 2.5 to 3.0
c. 25 to 30
d. 250 to 300

6. Nitrogen compounds in wastewater final effluent

a. Can be toxic and/or cause excess algae growth in the receiving stream
b. Can help the receiving stream by supplying excess oxygen
c. Can hurt the atmosphere by bleeding nitrogen gas
d. Can help provide critical habitat for fish

7. If your permit requires final effluent nitrogen testing, your in-house wastewater lab

a. Can test nitrogen for compliance purposes, and any other parameter in your MEPDES permit, as long as your lab analyst is properly trained.
b. Can test any parameter for permit compliance if listed in 40 CMR 136.
c. Cannot test nitrogen compounds for permit compliance unless your lab is state-certified.
d. Can use Hach tests without state certification.

8. The following information is given for a plant performing nitrification:

Plant influent flow = 10 mgd
Plant influent BOD = 180 mg/L
Plant influent TKN = 35 mg/L

BOD removed in Primary clarifier = 30%
TKN removed in Primary clarifier = 10%

Pounds of oxygen required for each pound of BOD removed = 1.1
Pounds of oxygen required for each pound of ammonia nitrified = 4.57

a. How many pounds of oxygen per day are required for BOD removal?
b. How many pounds of oxygen per day are required for conversion of ammonia to nitrate?

Cybersecurity News - Hacked Accounts

Reference: The National Cybersecurity Alliance,

If you think your online account or email has been hacked, wrestle it away from the bad guys by acting fast.

Hackers use a bunch of different tactics to try to compromise people’s email, banking, social media, device, and other online accounts. Sometimes they do this to spam your friends and colleagues, but other times they want to steal your money or identity or sabotage your work systems. By alerting authorities, you can often take back control of your hacked account. If you suspect that your digital account has been hacked, do something about it as soon as you can. Here’s what you need to know right now!

How does an account get hacked?

Security breaches happen in many ways – sometimes you might click on a bad link, or the company in charge of the account could be attacked. Commonly, an account is hacked through phishing. This is when cybercriminals use misleading emails, social media posts, phone calls, texts, or DMs that lure you to click on a bad link or download a malicious attachment. If you take the bait, the hackers can get access to your device or account.

Another common way your account could be hacked is if there is a data breach that reveals your username and password. The company controlling the account in question could be hacked, for example. If you reuse passwords, if any platform you use is compromised then cybercriminals might know your password for many accounts. This is why you should have a unique password for each account and change your password ASAP if you find out a platform you use has had a breach.

Signs your account has been hacked: Friends and followers tell you that they received emails from your email address that you never sent, or messages through social media that you never authored. Often these posts encourage your friends to click on a link, download an app, send money, or buy something through an online store.  Or you could be notified by a company that your information was lost via a data breach. If you think an account is hacked, snap into action, and take a few quick steps to mitigate staunch the damage.

1. Change the account’s password. This will likely lock out the hacker. Unfortunately, it can also work the other way around: the hacker might change the password and lock you out. In this case, try using the “forgot my password” function to reset it. If that doesn’t work, contact the platform ASAP. If you used the same password for other accounts, you should change all of them, and start using unique passwords for every account. Use a password manager to generate and store all your passwords.

2. Notify your contacts that your account was hacked. Let them know they may receive spam messages that look like you sent them. Tell your contacts they shouldn’t open these messages or click on any links contained in them. When the situation is cleared up, let everyone know that your accounts are secure again.

3. Make sure your security software is up to date. Scan your system for malware, especially if you suspect your computer might be infected with a virus. Antivirus software will scan your device to check for any security issues.

4. Contact people who can help you. Let your IT department know. Alert platforms, banks, etc. if you think someone has stolen your identity, let trusted friends and family know what you are going through so they can on the lookout for weird messages or posts from your account.

How to protect your accounts from hacks:

1. Use long, complex, and unique passwords. Very importantly, each account should be protected by its own unique password. To create and store all these passwords, use a password manager!

2. Switch on multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication (MFA), sometimes called 2-factor authentication, adds a whole other level of security beyond your password. MFA will use biometrics, security keys, text messages, or an app to make sure you are you, even if a hacker gets access to your password. Enable MFA for any account that allows it!

3. Think before you click. Learn how to identify phishing messages, which will often try to inspire panic or urgency. Take a few seconds to read through the message and who sent it. With a little knowledge, you can spot most phishing attempts within moments.

4. Turn on automatic updates. The best way to get the latest, strongest security is to install software updates as soon as they are available – and the best way to know when they are available is to turn on automatic updates! Set it, forget it, and you won’t regret it!


DMR-QA Study 43 Update

DMR-QA study 43 is closed. All participants should have submitted their results to the DMR-QA coordinator by September 29th, 2023.

For those who failed a test, two items must be sent to the MeDEP by November 9th, 1) Retest results for the failed analytes, and 2) a Corrective Action (CA) report. This can be a short email describing why you think you failed and what changes you are making to correct the problem for the future. The CA report could include such things as replacing or updating instrumentation, calibrations, enhanced cleaning procedures, purchasing new glassware, alternate DI water source, and improved techniques, analyst training, and data validation procedures.

If you fail the retest, MeDEP will review the situation and CA report. Possible outcomes for repeat failures include technical assistance, analyst training, and splitting samples with commercial laboratories. Depending on the circumstances, MeDEP may require the facility to use a commercial lab until such time that the MEPDES lab can show proficiency for in-house testing.

If you have any questions about the DMR-QA program, or need to update your contact information, please contact the DMR-QA coordinator at or

Monthly Problem Set / For Practice Answers, November

1. d. All of the above can be sources of nitrogen compounds in wastewater influent

2. c. Raw wastewater influent contains ammonia and organic nitrogen

3. a. TKN stands for Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen

4. c. You would expect to see the highest TKN levels in the influent

5. c. Typical ammonia levels in the influent are in the range 25 to 30 mg/L

6. a. Nitrogen compounds in wastewater final effluent can be toxic and/or cause eutrophication (excessive algae growth) in the receiving stream

7. c. Cannot test nitrogen compounds for permit compliance unless your lab is state-certified.

8. Using the pounds formula:

a. 10 mgd X 180 mg/L X 8.34 X 0.7 (remaining after PC) X 1.1 lb oxygen

= 11,559 lb/day oxygen required for BOD removal

b. 10 mgd X 35 mg/L X 8.34 X 0.9 (remaining after PC) X 4.57 lb oxygen

= 12,006 lb/day of oxygen required for conversion of ammonia to nitrate