Operations Challenge: where we’ve been and where we’re going

Jan. 24, 2024
The Operations Challenge in 2023 was impressive, and 2024’s events will continue to empower wastewater professionals.

Another year of the Operations Challenge has come and gone, but it certainly will not be the last. This event has an incredible history of empowering professionals to realize their work is more than just a job; it is a career.

Looking back, 2023 was a great year for the Operations Challenge. We had some impressive competitions and fantastic teams competing. The competition is broken up into three division based on experience.

Division 1 hosts the most competitive top 10 teams. Division 2 is the open primary division, and the top three winners of this division can move on to Division 1. Meanwhile, Division 3 is specifically for brand new teams or those who have only competed once.

Winning any division is quite an achievement and something any team should be proud of. The overall winners of each division are below:

  • Division 1: Controlled Chaos – WEA of South Carolina
  • Division 2: Sludgehammers – WEA of Ontario
  • Division 3: Poopa Troopa – Pacific Northwest CWA

These teams worked hard and put together an impressive effort to win their divisions. Keep an eye on these teams in 2024!

The first competition after WEFTEC occurred October 30 and 31 at the North Carolina OneWater Annual Conference in Raleigh in which Greenville took first place overall. The next event is a large one — South Carolina Environmental Conference Brawl at the Beach, March 10 to 11, 2024, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Why will this be such a big event? Because it is the hometown conference of Division 1 overall winner Controlled Chaos.

To find out more about upcoming Operations Challenge competitions in 2024, visit https://www.rmwea.org/oc.php. And keep an eye on the 2023 winners throughout the year to see if there are any repeat victors!

Operations challenge central

The Operations Challenge is the world’s premier skill-based competition for operators, or as some call it, the wastewater Olympics. Teams of four from utilities come together to compete, and they can be anyone from operators to maintenance folks to lab technicians. They compete in five different unique competitions that are scored according to time and number of penalties. The five competitions include:

  • A lab event that simulates process control tests for wastewater treatment plants
  • A collections event to repair an 8-inch PVC service line
  • A safety event to recover a downed colleague in a confined space
  • A maintenance event to repair a submersible chopper pump
  • A process control test for knowledge of treatment processes
About the Author

Jeff Sober

Jeff Sober is director of water services for Garver and serves as the chair of the WEF Operations Challenge. Connect with Jeff on LinkedIn.