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Current IssueSeptember 01, 2015
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Ask The Expert: Getting educated on water
Question: Q: I used to sell for EcoWater and have been out of the business for sometime. As our society continues to grow, demands for water continue to increase. I remember reading your magazine in the office and recall seeing references to schools that specialize in water treatment. I believe one was in New Mexico at the university there but I'm not sure. As I mentioned above, the demand for water will increase and the need for specialized people in that field. Can you point me in the right direction?

A. Brayall
New Brunswick, Canada

Answer: A: There are many options you can turn to for a technical education in water treatment. First, you might want to check locally at your area community college or university. The technical trade schools such as ITT Technical Institute may also be able to serve your needs, but their programs--I believe--can be pretty formulaic in terms of what they offer across the country (speaking in regard to ITT) and I'm not certain they operate in Canada. Community colleges are often more responsive to local employers' needs in carrying such programs. Universities tend to be a bit more monolithic and focus on broader academic themes.

You should look at engineering programs, environmental programs, geology programs and chemistry programs for an idea of what may be offered. There may be an interdisciplinary program that ties together related classes in a variety of areas to suit your needs or you may be able to tailor your own degree with classes from several departments with the assistance of a counselor if you let them know what you're seeking. Many institutions allow this these days as a broad liberal arts curriculum often has no immediate practical application in the job world. After all, while it may impress customers for you to be able to recite Shakespeare in Latin on the job, they're not likely to pay you any more or less based on that ability. Also keep in mind that many programs may be geared for industrial or municipal water treatment applications, which means the scale may be a bit large for what you're intending to use the knowledge on a residential level. But understanding the dynamics of pressure, flow, materials, filtration and basic water chemistry will be important in any case.

There are several programs that understand the focus of our industry and have begun to spread. Ones WC&P has written about include San Juan College, Farmington, N.M., Dona Ana Branch Community College, Las Cruces, N.M. -- "Higher Education: An Associate's Degree for Water Treatment Professionals," March 1997), Gateway Community College, Phoenix, Ariz. -- ("Water Treatment Education: A Blueprint for Success," February 1999), and Arizona Western College, Yuma, Ariz. -- ("Water Treatment Education: New Program Makes Splash," January 2000). Most of these have available some type of distance learning or correspondence course aspect and are connected with David H. Paul Inc., which specializes in water treatment education, also is located in Farmington, N.M., and puts on training seminars across the country. There are others that also put on similar training programs.

You may check with related associations to see what education programs they offer as well. The Water Quality Association offers a variety of training materials and opportunities for earning six levels of a Certified Water Specialist designation. The National Rural Water Association can enlighten you as to environmental training programs. And so forth...

Lastly, the National Environmental Training Center for Small Communities program, which is funded by the USEPA, hosted by West Virginia University and coordinates educational seminars and conferences for centers across the country. It can be reached at (800) 624-8301, and you can speak with Susan Maczko, Sandy Miller or Saundra Fallon. For an idea of what all the program covers, see: http://www.nis.wvu.edu/releases/training.htm
And for more on water quality issues in Canada, visit the Health Canada website (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ehp/ehd/bch/water_quality.htm) or Canadian Water Quality Association website (http://www.cwqa.com/).

We hope that helps.

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