What Does a Water Superintendent Do?

Dan Cavallari

A water superintendent is an employee, usually of a local government, who oversees and manages water processing, delivery, and treatment. This job generally entails a significant amount of clerical work, managerial work, and planning both long-term and daily operations. The specific functions of a water superintendent can, however, vary by region, as some water departments are much larger than others. Ensuring the safety of the community by planning for delivery of clean water and proper disposal of wastewater is the superintendent's highest priority. On a day-to-day level, however, much of this person's duties will focus on organization and employee management.

A water superintendent must be familiar with the inner-workings of the local wastewater processing systems.
A water superintendent must be familiar with the inner-workings of the local wastewater processing systems.

On a governmental level, the water superintendent is likely to be involved with the process of creating policy regarding water. He or she may work with lawmakers who will create new policies aimed at making water delivery, filtration, and cleaning much more efficient, inexpensive, and safe. Lawmakers may contact the water superintendent to address issues specific to a region as they arise, and the superintendent will also be consulted in the event of an emergency, natural disaster, or other situation that may threaten the safety of water supplies or delivery lines.

Budget concerns also fall to the water superintendent to address. Like all facilities and agencies, a water department will need to operate within a set budget. The superintendent may have a significant role in developing a budget and ensuring the department adheres to that budget throughout the course of a fiscal year. If the department is operating out of the constraints of the budget, the superintendent will be responsible for making relevant changes that will lower costs and improve efficiency. He or she must also keep track of all relevant paperwork and billing documents.

As with any management position, the water superintendent will usually have a combination of experience and education that qualifies him or her to oversee such operations. A college education is usually necessary for this position; some relevant college degrees include business administration, finance, public management, or even parks, recreation, and tourism. Once a person obtains such a degree, it is likely that he or she will start in a lower position for several years before being promoted. This is a good time to learn the inner workings of the public water system and increase one's ability to manage others, manage time effectively, and perform other relevant tasks.

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