What Does a Water Treatment Specialist Do?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A water treatment specialist monitors operations at a facility dedicated to processing wastewater and protecting water supplies. This work can also include inspections of businesses, homes, and other structures that empty into a treatment plant, to ensure their systems adhere to code and operate correctly. Working conditions can be harsh, as people often need to be outdoors, sometimes in bad weather, and the environment can contain strong odors and chemicals. Water treatment specialists may work for government water quality agencies as well as private companies.

Contaminated water.
Contaminated water.

This job can involve site preparation and setup when a new facility needs to be built. Civil engineers play a key role in the process of site inspection and selection, as well as design of a facility, but a water treatment specialist can be involved as well. In settings like the military, where temporary water treatment may be needed for projects and installations, specialists may be trained to set up and break down facilities on their own to support operations. These personnel need to think about the optimal location after considering issues like transport costs and human health.

Waste water must be treated and purified before it can be used by people.
Waste water must be treated and purified before it can be used by people.

At a facility, the water treatment specialist routinely checks equipment to make sure it is working properly. As conditions change, the workers can adjust settings to accommodate them. They also check for mechanical obstructions that might interfere with processing, and look for other signs that something at a facility is going wrong. In addition, the water treatment specialist can test the water using chemical test kits. These tests reveal whether the water is adequately processed, and can provide important information about the presence of contaminants of concerns.

A water treatment specialist may perform inspections at a water treatment plant.
A water treatment specialist may perform inspections at a water treatment plant.

Site inspections for customers of a water treatment plant can include evaluations of grease traps and drains in facilities like biological research labs. The water treatment specialist wants to make sure these are up to code and operating correctly. If they are not, they could cause problems at the plant; for example, grease from restaurant drains could unbalance bacterial populations, create clogs, and generate strong odors. Likewise, hazardous medical waste in the system could lead to contamination of water supplies.

Supplies of fresh, potable water are also cared for by water treatment specialists. They check on the quality of the water, control the release of supplies, and monitor potential hazards. These can include biological contaminants introduced at some point during processing by accident, as well as deliberate interference with the water supply.

Water treatment specialists make water safe for people to drink.
Water treatment specialists make water safe for people to drink.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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