a career in

Distribution & Collection

13,000

Miles of water and sewer pipe under Los Angeles

Water distribution and wastewater collection systems are massive. How big? If Los Angeles’ water and sewer pipe was laid end to end it would reach from L.A. to New York — five times. Even small and midsize cities in California have systems that are hundreds of miles long.

2017-2047

New distribution system operators and wastewater collection workers starting out in 2017 will see two trends grow during their careers.

N

Replacement of systems

Throughout California and the U.S., water and wastewater systems are getting older. But the components, from pipes to pumps, age at different rates, and the maintenance and replacement of components never stops.

50-100

AGE SPAN OF PIPE (YEARS)

50-75

AGE SPAN OF VALVES (YEARS)

40-50

AGE SPAN OF HYDRANTS (YEARS)

15-20

AGE SPAN OF METERS (YEARS)

N

Expansion of systems

California’s population will continue to grow, driving the construction of new homes, neighborhoods, schools and businesses. Each new development will require expansion of existing water and wastewater systems.

49 Million

STATEWIDE POPULATION IN 2047

39 Million

STATEWIDE POPULATION IN 2017

What you do

When we turn the faucet on, the water is there. And, when the water goes down the drain, it doesn’t come back. Many people are unaware of the thousands of dedicated professionals assuring 24/7 reliability of water distribution and wastewater collection systems, but this is one of the most important jobs in California.

N

System operations

Water distribution system operators anticipate customer demand and coordinate with treatment plant operators, calculate pumping and flow rates, monitor operational data and respond to changing conditions.

N

Water quality

Water distribution system operators monitor and manage how long water is detained in reservoir tanks, chlorine feed rates and residual chlorine levels, water sampling and analysis, and flushing pipes.

N

Maintenance: water

Water distribution system operators inspect, calibrate, test, operate, maintain and repair valves, pumps, motors, chlorine injection systems, reservoir tanks, pipe, hydrants and meters.

N

Maintenance: wastewater

Wastewater collection system technicians inspect, clean and maintain pipe, pumps, lift stations and manholes. Pipe is inspected with remotely operated, self propelled cameras (CCTV).

N

Main breaks

Water and sewer mains break 24 hours a day. On-call workers perform emergeny repairs and coordinate with other utilities, impacted customers and public health officials.

N

Street repair

Water and sewer mains are located under streets, so system repairs include traffic control, repaving streets and repairing curbs and sidewalks.

N

Vehicle operation

New workers will generally need a Class C driver’s license and then acquire a Class B license to operate dump trucks, vactor trucks and backhoes.

Water Distribution System Operator

How to get started

Do a year of hard work

Many agencies want applicants with construction or facilities maintenance experience.

Take 3 courses

Take introduction to water technology, water mathematics and basic water distribution.

i

Pass the D1 or D2 exam

Students who understand the course material often skip the D1 exam and pass the D2 exam.

Career Pathway

General Manager

Annual salary
$150,000-$350,000

Sample job description
Olivenhain Water District

Minimum qualifications for this job

Certification

Not required

Experience 

Multiple years of administrative and supervisory experience plus comprehensive knowledge of utility operations, engineering and financial management.

Education

Bachelor’s degree required / Master’s degree preferred

Director of Operations

Annual salary
$115,000-$184,000

Sample job descriptions
Coachella Valley Water District

Minimum qualifications for this job

Certification

T3-5 and D3-5

Experience 

10 years of experience in a water utility including at least 5 years of supervisory experience.

Education

Bachelor’s degree

Operations Manager

Annual salary
$99,000-$154,000

Sample job description
Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Minimum qualifications for this job

Certification

D3-5
T2-3
Grade 2-3 Wastewater Collection

Experience 

5-10 years in water distribution including 3-5 years as a supervisor

Education

Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree

Supervisor

Annual salary
$72,000-$109,000

Sample job description
Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Minimum qualifications for this job

Certification

D3-5

Experience 

2-3 years in operation and maintenance of water distribution systems

Education
High school diploma or GED

Operator

Annual salary
$51,000-$94,000

Sample job description
Eastern Municipal Water District

Minimum qualifications for this job

Certification

D1-2 for entry level job
D2-5 for advancement

Experience 

Most agencies require 1 year in construction or facilities management

Education

High school diploma or GED

Utility Worker

Annual salary
$40,000-$72,000

Sample job description
Eastern Municipal Water District

Minimum qualifications for this job

Certification

D1-2

Experience 

Most agencies require 1 year in construction or facilities management

Education

High school diploma or GED

Certification

D5

Minimum qualifications for certification
Exam
Pass the D5 exam
Experience
– 2 years working as a D4 operator at a plant rated D4 or higher
– 3 additional years working as a certified operator. Education and wastewater experience can fulfill this requirement. Learn more

Minimum qualifications to take the exam
Education
– D4 Certification
– Four 3-unit courses in water technology, with at least two courses in drinking water treatment
Learn about the exam

Courses that prepare you for the exam
Advanced water distribution
Mechanical maintenance
Backflow prevention
Cross connection control
Hydraulics

D4

Minimum qualifications for certification
Exam
Pass the D4 exam
Experience
– 1 year working as a D3 operator at a plant rated D3 or higher
– 3 additional years working as a certified operator. Education and wastewater experience can fulfill this requirement. Learn more

Minimum qualifications to take the exam
Education
– D3 Certification
– Three 3-unit courses in water technology, with at least two courses in drinking water distribution
Learn about the exam

Courses that prepare you for the exam
Advanced water distribution
Mechanical maintenance
Backflow prevention
Cross connection control
Hydraulics

 

 

D3

Minimum qualifications for certification
Exam
Pass the D3 exam
Experience
– 1 year working as a D2 operator at a plant rated D2 or higher
– 1 additional year working as a certified operator. Education and wastewater experience can fulfill this requirement. Learn more

Minimum qualifications to take the exam
Education
– D2 Certification
– Two 3-unit courses in drinking water technology, with one course in drinking water distribution
Learn about the exam

Courses that prepare you for the exam
Advanced water distribution
Mechanical maintenance
Backflow prevention
Cross connection control
Hydraulics

D2

Minimum qualifications for certification
Pass the D2 exam

Minimum qualifications to take the exam
Education
High school diploma or GED
Learn about the exam

Courses that prepare you for the exam
Introduction to water technology
Water mathematics
Basic water distribution

D1

Minimum qualifications for certification
Pass the D1 exam

Minimum qualifications to take the exam
Education
High school diploma or GED
Learn about the exam

Courses that prepare you for the exam
Introduction to water technology
Water mathematics
Basic water distribution

Courses to take

Courses

D1-2

Introduction to Water Technology
Water Mathematics
Basic Water Distribution

D3-5

Advanced Water Distribution
Hydraulics

Wastewater Collection System Maintenance

How to get started

Do a year of hard work

Many agencies want applicants with construction or facilities maintenance experience.

Take 3 courses

Take introduction to water technology, water mathematics and basic wastewater collection.

i

Pass the G1 exam

Wastewater collection exams are given quarterly and the results are available instantly.

Career Pathway

General Manager

Annual salary
$150,000-$350,000

Sample job description
Olivenhain Water District

Minimum qualifications for this job

Certification

Not required

Experience 

Multiple years of administrative and supervisory experience plus comprehensive knowledge of utility operations, engineering and financial management.

Education

Bachelor’s degree required / Master’s degree preferred

Director of Operations

Annual salary
$115,000-$184,000

Sample job descriptions
Coachella Valley Water District

Minimum qualifications for this job

Certification

T3-5 and D3-5

Experience 

10 years of experience in a water utility including at least 5 years of supervisory experience.

Education

Bachelor’s degree

Wastewater Collection Manager

Annual salary
$83,000-$115,000

Sample job descriptions
Eastern Municipal Water District

Minimum qualifications for this job

Certification

Grade 4 Wastewater Collection Systems

Experience 

3-5 years of supervisory or administrative experience in wastewater collection systems.

Education

Diploma or G.E.D. required and an Associate’s Degree preferred

Operations Manager

Annual salary
$99,000-$154,000

Sample job description
Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Minimum qualifications for this job

Certification

D3-5
T2-3
Grade 2-3 Wastewater Collection

Experience 

5-10 years in water distribution including 3-5 years as a supervisor

Education

Associate’s or Bachelor’s Degree

Supervisor

Annual salary
$63,000-$89,000

Sample job description
Eastern Municipal Water District

Minimum qualifications for this job

Certification

Grade 3 Wastewater Collection for entry level job

Experience 
5-10 years in wastewater collection system operations, maintenance and construction, including 3-5 years of supervisory experience

Education

High school diploma or GED

Collection Systems Worker

Annual salary
$40,000-$81,000

Sample job description
Padre Dam Municipal Water District

Minimum qualifications for this job

Certification

Grade 1 Wastewater Collection for entry level job
D2 Water Distribution for entry level job
Grade 2 and D3 needed to advance

Experience 
Most agencies require 1 year in construction or facilities management

Education

High school diploma or GED

Certification

G4

Minimum qualifications to take the exam

Option 1
Education/Certification
None
Experience
8 years in wastewater collection including 1 year supervising others

Option 2
Education/Certification
G3 certification for 2 years
Experience
6 years in wastewater collection including 1 year supervising others

Option 3
Education/Certification
Associate’s degree or higher
Experience
6 years in wastewater collection including 1 year supervising others

Option 4
Education/Certification
Bachelor’s degree or higher
Experience
5 years in wastewater collection including 1 year supervising others

Learn about the exam

Courses that prepare you for the exam
Advanced wastewater collection
Cross connection control
Backflow prevention
Mechanical maintenance
Hydraulics

G3

Minimum qualifications to take the exam

Option 1
Education/Certification
None
Experience
6 years in wastewater collection

Option 2
Education/Certification
G2 certification for 2 yeara
Experience
4 years in wastewater collection

Option 3
Education/Certification
Associate’s degree or higher
Experience
4 years in wastewater collection

Option 4
Education/Certification
Bachelor’s degree or higher
Experience
3 years in wastewater collection

Learn about the exam

Courses that prepare you for the exam
Advanced wastewater collection
Cross connection control
Backflow prevention
Mechanical maintenance
Hydraulics

G2

Minimum qualifications to take the exam

Option 1
Education/Certification
None
Experience
4 years in wastewater collection

Option 2
Education/Certification
G1 certification for 1 year
Experience
2 years in wastewater collection

Option 3
Education/Certification
Associate’s degree or higher
Experience
2 years in wastewater collection

Option 4
Education/Certification
Bachelor’s degree or higher
Experience
1 year in wastewater collection

Learn about the exam

Courses that prepare you for the exam
Advanced wastewater collection
Cross connection control
Backflow prevention
Mechanical maintenance
Hydraulics

G1

Minimum qualifications for certification
Pass the G1 exam

Minimum qualifications to take the exam
None
Learn about the exam

Courses that prepare you for the exam
Introduction to water technology
Water mathematics
Basic wastewater collection

Courses to take

Courses

For Grade 1-2 Certification
Introduction to Water Technology
Water Mathematics
Basic Wastewater Collection Systems

For Grade 3-4 Certification
Advanced Wastewater Collection Systems

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