WCWC supports water systems owners, operators and operating authorities as they manage their water systems to safeguard water resources. Paula VanVeen, Curriculum Development Coordinator, tells us about WCWC’s Training and Development initiatives and what’s new for 2021.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted initiatives in Training and Development?
Historically our focus has been on the development of classroom training with the incorporation of hands-on activities to enhance the learning experience. Ontario’s public health initiatives in response to COVID-19 have encouraged us to move to more online and virtual courses. While providing quality training in the classroom will always be a priority, we will continue to enhance our online and virtual development initiatives post-pandemic. These initiatives support our mandate of delivering drinking water operator training throughout the province; small systems, First Nations, remote communities and municipalities benefit from the flexibility offered by these alternative learning platforms.
How have Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) priorities driven curriculum development?
Ontario’s operators are required to take a mandatory course every 36 months as part of their certificate renewal requirements. MECP tasks WCWC with the development and delivery of the renewal course. In January 2021 a new course was rolled out, aptly named Mandatory Certificate Renewal Course 2021-2023 (MCR2123). This new renewal course has been largely developed by WCWC in consultation with the MECP and an advisory group of drinking water stakeholders provincewide. MCR2123 will be available in classrooms throughout Ontario, virtually, and by correspondence in the Spring of 2021.
The MECP has also directed WCWC to develop an Ethics course in support of its new Code of Ethics. While the vast majority of Ontario’s operators conduct themselves with honesty and integrity, the MECP has noticed an increase in noncompliance related to unethical behaviour. Ethics for Drinking Water Operators is a three-hour online course available early in 2021. The MECP’s Code of Ethics will become part of the operator certification and renewal application process.
What’s new for 2021?
Response has been very positive for our virtual course deliveries, and there continues to be interest in eLearning from our client base. We will be adding to our list of virtual offerings using theory content from existing courses supplemented by videos and interactive online group activity.
WCWC launched a new remote monitoring system. Geordie Gauld, Technician, tells us more about how the new system will assist with pilot testing projects to support water system owners, operators and operating authorities.
What exactly is the new remote monitoring system? How does it work?
Essentially, this is a small-scale Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system with cellular connectivity. It operates on many of the same principles as the monitoring and control system at a full-scale water treatment facility. A simple programmable logic controller (PLC) will take in process signals from the pilot plant, including parameters like water pressure, flow, turbidity, pH, etc. Using these inputs, we can observe system statuses, compile datasets, and generate historical trends from right here at WCWC.
How will this benefit pilot testing projects?
It can be challenging to gather complete data from our pilot testing communities. Many are in remote regions and we cannot stay onsite for weeks to manually gather data. Operators are also very busy running their own facilities and don’t have the time to manually sample and collect the data we need and get it into our hands. This system will allow us to collect complete datasets with little to no input from operators. Complete data will lead to a more effective pilot testing process and allow WCWC and the facility owner to make more informed decisions regarding the direction of the pilot testing project, no matter where the owner’s plant is located.
Being able to view the status of the system in real-time will also allow us to confirm things are running as they should be. An undetected failure in the pilot plant can render large sets of data incomplete or inaccurate and delay the overall progress of the pilot testing project.
How is one monitoring system going to be effective for multiple pilot testing projects that may have many different requirements?
By reviewing the configurations of previous pilot testing projects, we were able to compile a list of modular hardware requirements we felt would be most useful. This allowed us to wire and pre-program the unit for common configurations with the ability to use or omit certain features as desired. This approach will allow us a great deal of flexibility working with different treatment strategies and arrangements. In our hardware selection we also allowed for several “spare” inputs which will allow us to expand our capabilities in the future.
For more information about WCWC’s pilot testing services, please visit www.wcwc.ca/services/pilot-testing/ or contact us at 866-515-0550.Read More
The WCWC Training Operations department supports our clients by coordinating mandatory and specialized training for water system owners, operators and operating authorities across Ontario. Kelly Weber, Training Support Representative, answers some common questions about WCWC training.
With all the COVID-19 restrictions, are you offering in-class training?
Yes we are continuing to offer in-class training and WCWC has incorporated a COVID-19 Training Session Protocol to enhance safety for our participants and staff. This protocol includes a pre-screening for our venues, participants and staff, social distancing and disinfection measures, and follows all guidelines for “Training in COVID-19” of the Ministry of Labour.
I am not comfortable attending a class right now, what are my options?
WCWC has been offering several of our popular courses virtually, and more are under development! These are live virtual training sessions with interaction between the instructor and participants and there is a class maximum of 15. View our upcoming schedule by visiting wcwc.ca/registration.
How do I register for upcoming courses?
You can register right on our website! Visit wcwc.ca/registration and click on the course, then “register now”.
Can I have a copy of my training certificate?
For certificates for courses delivered by WCWC, you can log in to “my profile” anytime and view your course history and reprint a copy of your certificate. Or please email email@example.com or call WCWC directly at 1-866-515-0550.Read More
WCWC has resumed in-person classroom training with a new COVID-19 Training Session Protocol to enhance safety for participants and instructors. Stephanie Meades, Small Systems Specialist, talks more about the new self-screening, physical distancing and disinfection measures.
What does self-screening involve?
Participants will be required to complete a self-screening questionnaire prior to the training session. Self-screening will include questions regarding COVID-19 signs and symptoms, travel history and contact with individuals with respiratory illness or a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19. If a participant does not pass the self-screening, they cannot attend the training session.
What can I expect at the training session?
Each training session will begin with a presentation regarding health and safety related to COVID-19. The instructor will attempt to maintain physical distancing at all times, but if it cannot be met for hands-on activities, Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be required.
Is PPE provided?
WCWC will provide masks, protective eyewear and hand sanitizer for participants. If a participant refuses to wear PPE when required, they will be asked to leave the training session.
Will there be any extra disinfection measures in place?
Facilities will be cleaned and sanitized before and after the training session. Signs will be posted to ensure policies and procedures related to COVID-19 are communicated to all participants.
How many participants will be in each training session?
The number of participants will be restricted according to the size of the room to respect physical distancing requirements. If unregistered participants arrive, they will not be allowed to enter the training session.
A variety of training sessions across Ontario are now open for registration. For further information, or to register for any of WCWC’s upcoming training sessions, please visit wcwc.ca/registration or contact us at 866-515-0550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Read More
WCWC operates a state-of-the-art Technology Demonstration Facility in Walkerton, Ontario. Geoff Graham, Technician, explains how the Technology Demonstration Facility is used to provide education, information and advice in support of our clients.
1. What is the Technology Demonstration Facility?
The Technology Demonstration Facility is a unique platform for hands-on training and pilot testing projects for the water industry. The idea is to showcase as well as test the wide variety of equipment and processes used throughout Ontario. WCWC provides tours of the Technology Demonstration Facility to share information about the equipment and operational requirements necessary to ensure drinking water is safe.
2. What equipment is there?
The Technology Demonstration Facility features the latest conventional and advanced water treatment and control technologies, laboratory, and model distribution systems. Some of the pilot treatment units available include: dissolved air flotation; ultrafiltration; nanofiltration; reverse osmosis; fixed bed and magnetic ion exchange; slow sand filtration; ozone; ultraviolet light; and advanced oxidation processes. There is also a variety of fire hydrants and other water distribution equipment to allow demonstrations and training of operators in a controlled and safe environment.
3. How is the Technology Demonstration Facility used for pilot testing projects?
A WCWC pilot testing project is a small-scale practical study to evaluate feasibility, duration, or performance of a water treatment strategy and its effect on water quality. This can include bench or pilot-scale projects that may address multiple water quality parameters. These projects can be completed on-site or at the Technology Demonstration Facility. We have the capability to store a large volume of water on site which can then be fed through one or more water treatment processes to evaluate the treatment effectiveness.
For more information about the Technology Demonstration Facility, or to schedule a tour, contact us at 866-515-0550 or email@example.com.Read More
WCWC recently launched virtual delivery of four popular courses. Venkat Ramani, Senior Operational Instructor, talks about what you can expect at the upcoming virtual course, Prevention and Control of Nitrification:
- What is the course about?
Participants who register for this course will learn the basics of nitrification, the impact of nitrification on distribution systems and storage facilities, different treatment and operational strategies to control/prevent nitrification, key monitoring parameters that provides an insight if there is any onset of nitrification and how to prepare an Action plan to prevent nitrification.
This course is designed for operators, supervisors, managers of water utilities and consultants.
- When is it being offered?
July 7 & 8, 2020 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
- Will I earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs)?
Our virtual courses provide the same CEUs as their classroom versions. Prevention and Control of Nitrification has a CEU value of 0.7.
- How do I access the course?
To register for the course, visit wcwc.ca/registration and a link for the session will be emailed to you. A course manual will be couriered to each participant a week prior to the course.
- What is the cost?
Virtual courses are being offered at reduced rates. The cost to register for the virtual delivery of Prevention and Control of Nitrification is $245 + HST.
Over the past decade, cyanobacteria blooms have emerged as an important issue in the water and wastewater industry. Tory Colling, Scientist, explains what water professionals ought to know about cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins in water:
1. What are cyanotoxins?
Cyanotoxins are produced by some species of cyanobacteria or as commonly known as blue-green algae. These toxins are typically stored inside the cells, but when cyanobacteria cells degrade, the toxins are released.
Cyanobacteria are microscopic bacteria that have some plant-like characteristics. They are commonly called “algae blooms” in the media.
2. Where are they found?
Cyanobacteria naturally occur in freshwater. In fact, they contribute oxygen in our atmosphere. When conditions are favourable, such as warm temperatures and nutrient-rich, shallow and stagnant waters, cyanobacteria can form blooms. Cyanobacteria blooms are made up of densely-populated cells that form discoloured water, which is often described as pea soup or spilt paint with an oily appearance.
Certain cyanobacteria can produce by-products, known as cyanotoxins. When these cyanobacteria cells form a bloom, large amounts of cyanotoxins can be detected.
3. What are the health concerns?
Health concerns can range from liver toxins, neurotoxins, tumor-promoting effects or skin irritation. There are different types of cyanotoxins and each type has different health concerns. The most common cyanotoxin is called microcystin. Microcystin is a liver toxin and can cause tumor-promoting effects.
4. What are some strategies to control cyanotoxins?
Reducing nutrient inputs to source water or effective reservoir/watershed management are long-term strategies to control cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins.
5. How can cyanotoxins be removed from drinking water?
For larger municipal systems, combining effectively operated drinking water treatment processes can provide a multiple barrier to remove intact cells or released cyanotoxins. Some drinking water treatment processes, such as coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation or flotation, are capable of removing intact cyanobacteria cells. While other drinking water treatment processes, such as chlorination or ozonation, are capable of degrading released cyanotoxins, provided there is enough disinfectant concentration and contact time with the disinfectant.
Some very small or private drinking water systems may only rely on point-of-entry (POE) drinking water treatment units. If these private drinking water systems suspect a bloom in the water supply, it is recommended to contact the local health unit and use an alternative water source. Very limited POE treatment units are certified to specifically remove cyanotoxins. However, in 2019, the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF)/American National Standards Institute (ANSI) updated NSF/ANSI Standard 53 to include a protocol to test activated carbons filters to reduce microcystins.Read More
WCWC offers a popular course, Operation of Small Drinking Water Systems, online and through correspondence. Alicia McIntyre, Training Support Representative, tells us more about this course, which is perfectly suited to the current COVID-19 pandemic, but is available year-round.
1. What topics are covered in this course?
There are four main areas covered under this course.
• Relevant legislation
• Water quality
• Water sources and methods of treatment
• Water sampling: observation, results, reporting and corrective action
2. Who is the target audience?
The target audience is participants seeking “trained person” designation under O.Reg. 170/03.
3. When is the course available? Is there a deadline to finish it?
The course is available anytime by correspondence or online. A participant has one year from date of registration to successfully complete it.
4. Are there Continuing Education Units (CEUs) available for this course?
Yes, a participant receives 1.8 CEUs upon successfully completing the course.
5. How do I register?
A participant can register anytime by following this link: https://wcwc.ca/small-systems-zone/operation-of-small-drinking-water-systems-course/. If they have any problems registering they can call WCWC directly.
Are you looking for reliable information on drinking water? Laura Zettler, Drinking Water Resource Coordinator, describes what you can find on the Drinking Water Resource Library.
1. What is the Drinking Water Resource Library?
The library is an online database of resources and website links providing information relating to drinking water. We provide this service to the operators, owners, inspectors and decision makers of water treatment systems and to the public. It is available online free of charge to anyone at any time.
2. What topics are covered?
Any resources that relate to drinking water quality or common issues found in Ontario are collected. We have curated groups for the most popular searches, making it easier to browse. These topics include regulatory guidance, cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), arsenic, lead, legionella and microplastics, to name a few. We also have a new folder, being updated daily, featuring resources relating to the current coronavirus pandemic.
3. How many resources are there?
Currently there are over 5,000 resources available for browsing but we continue to add new or relevant information every day.
4. Is there a cost to use it?
There is no cost to use this service. The goal is to have information readily available to anyone who seeks it. WCWC also hosts a free helpline where we will help locate information or direct callers to the right contacts. You can contact the helpline at 1-855-306-1155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Who do I contact if I have a suggestion for new information?
If you have suggestions for content or would like to submit your own resources contact us at email@example.com. WCWC also collects anonymous feedback using a survey that can be found on our library webpage.
You can visit www.wcwc.ca and find the library under the services tab or visit this link:
Are you curious about pilot testing? Devendra Borikar, Technology Demonstration Lead, and Jeff Avedesian, Acting Scientist, answer common questions about WCWC’s pilot testing program:
What is pilot testing?
A WCWC pilot project is a small-scale practical study conducted in order to evaluate feasibility, duration, or performance of a water treatment strategy and its effect on water quality. This can include bench or pilot-scale projects that may address health based, operational, or aesthetic water quality parameters.
What kind of projects have you done in the past?
WCWC has completed pilots that addressed cyanotoxins and cyanobacteria, arsenic, manganese, trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids, aluminum, dissolved organic carbon, chlorine, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, iron, and sulfates using various specific strategies. WCWC can also provide information to owners, operators and other decision-makers in the form of a literature review for the purpose of making educated and informed decisions.
Is the work done in Walkerton or at my site?
The work can be completed either on-site or at the WCWC Technology Demonstration Facility depending on site-specific conditions.
What do you do with the results?
WCWC provides the owner and operating authority with preliminary data throughout the pilot, a detailed report and treatment recommendations. With the permission of the client, WCWC may choose to present the study at conferences and tradeshows, and may include results from the project in future training materials.