Opportunities For Postsecondary Students at The Walkerton Clean Water Centre

Photo of Sophia and Tory in the lab
Photo of Sophia and Tory in the lab

WCWC’s Technology Demonstration Facility serves as a platform to provide information and advice to water professionals and the public through pilot tests, tours and the Helpline. Co-op placements are available for Ontario college students who can help WCWC provide this support to our clients.

This summer, WCWC is fortunate to have Sophia Madden join us as a Student Technician. Sophia tells us more about the projects she will be working on during her co-op placement.

WCWC has been busy with pilot tests for clients across Ontario. What kind of projects will you be helping with this summer?

SM: I will have the opportunity to work on a variety of different pilot projects for municipalities and First Nations communities. Some of the projects I am most looking forward to are those that experience high levels of organics and turbidity in the raw water, resulting in a treated water effluent that needs to be improved. These plants also face challenges with the formation of disinfection by-products (DBPs) in their distribution systems due to the higher levels of organics and DBP precursors. I will be working alongside Scientists and Technicians, performing bench-scale tests to experiment with different treatment methods, which will remove the turbidity and organics before they enter the distribution system. The most rewarding part of being on these projects will be providing the communities with information on how to improve their treatment plants to better suit their raw water sources. With modifications and improvements to their current processes, a higher quality of treated drinking water will be produced that community members can rely on.

What other activities have you been working on?

SM: I’ve been fortunate to be a part of a few activities going on around WCWC. I took the Operation of Conventional Treatment Processes course, which was a great experience to kick off my placement. Taking this course was a great way for me to brush up on my lab skills and reinforce some of the basic conventional treatment concepts I had previously learned. In addition to this, I recently had the amazing opportunity to help deliver a tour of WCWC to Grade eight and nine students from a local school to talk to them about careers in the water industry. The tour was a great introduction for the students which allowed them to learn, ask great questions, and get their hands dirty with a few hands-on activities!

You’re enrolled in the Water Quality Technician program at Durham College. How do you think your experience as a Student Technician at WCWC will contribute to your coursework?

SM: My position allows me to apply many of the concepts I learned in my first year at Durham College in a practical, lab-based setting. The pilot testing projects that I am a part of are giving me a great opportunity to further develop my water quality analysis skills, while also learning a great deal more about the different treatment methods used in the water industry to combat specific water quality challenges. This valuable hands-on experience will help me make connections between the concepts I will learn in the classroom to real-world scenarios and will give me a great deal of knowledge for when I choose to write my Class 1 Water Treatment and Water Quality Analyst exams. It will also provide me with valuable information to share with the College as the student member of the Water Quality Technician Program Advisory Committee.

What advice would you give to other students interested in pursuing a career in the water industry?

SM: My advice to students interested in the water industry is to get involved and show your passion for it! Working in the water industry is something to be proud of. Being able to provide safe, clean drinking water to the public and ensure that it is of the highest quality is something that operators work very hard to do. A great place to start would be at your own college or in your community! There may be opportunities within your college, such as clubs or committees, that will allow you to get involved with your program and make connections with professors and industry professionals. In your community, there may be volunteer opportunities that you can get involved with, such as activities for World Water Day. When it comes down to it, take advantage of the resources you are given, be enthusiastic about the opportunities that come your way, and never turn down the chance to learn something new!

WCWC provides education, training, information and advice to water professionals and the public to help safeguard Ontario’s drinking water. When available, co-op placement opportunities are advertised through Ontario colleges. For more information about WCWC, please visit www.wcwc.ca.