Water treatment systems operator

A water treatment systems operator


Water treatment systems operators treat water to ensure safety for drinking, irrigation, or other use. They operate and maintain water treatment equipment and ensure the water is safe for bottling and use in food production by thoroughly testing before distribution and by meeting environmental standards.

Excludes water plant technician.

The duties of a water treatment systems operator typically include, but are not limited to:

  • Operating and maintaining water treatment equipment to ensure that the treated water meets regulatory and quality standards
  • Conducting regular tests on the treated water to ensure that it is safe for consumption
  • Troubleshooting and repairing any issues with the water treatment systems
  • Monitoring the levels of chemicals used in the treatment process
  • Maintaining accurate records of all maintenance and repairs performed on the water treatment systems
  • Ensuring the proper disposal of any waste materials produced by the treatment process
  • Coordinating with other staff members to ensure the proper functioning of the water treatment plant

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to water treatment systems operator:

water quality tester
water safety tester
water treatment system worker
water treatment operator
water quality operative
water treatment system operative
water safety operative
drinking water treatment system worker
water treatment plant operative
drinking water treatment system operator
drinking water treatment system operative
water system operator
water treatment plant worker

Working conditions

Water treatment systems operators often work in water treatment plants or utilities. The job may require working in confined spaces or around hazardous chemicals, so following strict safety protocols is crucial. Water treatment systems operators may also need to work in shifts, including evenings, weekends, and holidays.

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required to become a water treatment systems operator. Many employers also require an associate degree in a related field, such as environmental science or chemistry. In addition to formal education, on-the-job training is also essential to become proficient in the job duties of a water treatment systems operator.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Water treatment systems operator is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Water treatment systems operator career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to water treatment systems operator.

water plant technician
wastewater treatment operator
water engineering technician
wastewater treatment technician
groundwater monitoring technician

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of water treatment systems operator. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of water treatment systems operator with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

water quality analyst
water treatment plant manager
botanicals specialist
animal feed nutritionist
cider master

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of water treatment systems operator.

  • Water pressure: Physical laws, qualities, and liquid or water pressure applications.
  • Water policies: Have a solid understanding of policies, strategies, institutions, and regulations concerning water.
  • Beverages filtration processes: Safe and economical method for removing impurities from food products and extending their shelf life. Importance of contamination control and how it contributes to superior quality products, a significant waste reduction, and a minimum of product spoilage.
  • Water reuse: Principles of water reuse processes in complex circulation systems.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of water treatment systems operator.

  • Ensure compliance with environmental legislation: Monitor activities and perform tasks ensuring compliance with standards involving environmental protection and sustainability, and amend activities in the case of changes in environmental legislation. Ensure that the processes are compliant with environmental regulations and best practices.
  • Strive to conserve the composition of water: Strive not to unnecessarily alter the composition of the water when removing undesirable constituents.
  • Use water disinfection equipment: Operate equipment for water disinfection using different methods and techniques, such as mechanical filtration, depending on needs.
  • Operate a heat treatment process: Apply heat treatment to prepare and preserve half-finished or finished food products.
  • Filter liquids: Separated solids that will not readily sediment from their suspending liquid by passing the mixture through filters.
  • Disassemble equipment: Disassemble equipment using hand tools to clean equipment and perform regular operational maintenance.
  • Perform water treatments: Perform regular water testing, ensuring that water management and filtration processes follow reasonable management practices, industry standards, or commonly accepted farming practices. Record previous water contaminations, the source of contamination, and the contamination remedied. Take mitigation measures to guard against further contamination.
  • Measure water quality parameters: Quality assure water by considering various elements, such as temperature.
  • Operate water purifying equipment: Operate and adjust equipment controls to purify and clarify water, process and treat wastewater, air, and solids, recycle or discharge treated water, and generate power.
  • Clean food and beverage machinery: Clean machinery used for food or beverage production processes. Prepare the appropriate cleaning solutions. Prepare all parts and ensure they are clean enough to avoid deviation or errors in the production process.
  • Apply HACCP: Apply regulations regarding the manufacture of food and food safety compliance. Employ food safety procedures based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP).
  • Check bottles for packaging: Check bottles for packaging. Apply bottle testing procedures to verify if the bottle is fit for containing food and beverage products. Follow legal or company specifications for bottling.
  • Separate unstable elements in the water: Use adequate equipment to separate unstable elements in water, such as iron and sulfur compounds, by filtration or decanting.
  • Boil water: Boil water in large quantities in the context of manufacturing or food production (e.g., almond blanching).
  • Be at ease in unsafe environments: Be at ease in unsafe environments, like being exposed to dust, rotating equipment, hot surfaces, sub-freezing and cold storage areas, noise, wet floors, and moving lift equipment.
  • Perform carbonation processes: Perform carbonation processes, which refer to the infusion of carbon dioxide under high pressure to obtain effervescent beverages such as sodas, sparkling wines, and beverages.
  • Perform water treatment procedures: Perform operations such as filtering, sterilising, and dechlorinating to purify water for consumption and food production using different procedures and technologies such as micro-filtration, reverse osmosis, ozonation, carbon filtration, or ultraviolet (UV) light.
  • Follow hygienic procedures during food processing: Ensure a clean working space according to hygienic standards in the food processing industry.
  • Adhere to organisational guidelines: Adhere to organisational or department-specific standards and guidelines. Understand the motives of the organisation and the common agreements and act accordingly.
  • Apply requirements concerning manufacturing of food and beverages: Apply and follow national, international, and internal requirements quoted in standards, regulations, and other specifications related with the manufacturing of food and beverages.
  • Apply GMP: Apply regulations regarding the manufacture of food and food safety compliance. Employ food safety procedures based on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
  • Manage desalination control system: Manage a system for removing salt to obtain potable water.
  • Measure water flow: Measure water flow, water intakes, and catchments.
  • Tend beverage gasifier equipment: Tend beverage gasifier equipment which is usually made by a machine coupled with a gasifier.
  • Exert quality control to processing food: Ensure the quality of all factors involved in a food production process.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of water treatment systems operator. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Water chemistry analysis: Principles of complex water chemistry.
  • Health, safety and hygiene legislation: The set of health, safety, and hygiene standards and items of legislation applicable in a specific sector.
  • Biology: Tissues, cells, and functions of plant and animal organisms and their interdependencies and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Risks associated to physical, chemical, biological hazards in food and beverages: Interpretation of laboratory tests for parameters affecting food safety, taking into account risks associated with physical, chemical, and biological hazards in food and beverages.
  • Chemistry: The composition, structure, and properties of substances and the processes and transformations that they undergo; the uses of different chemicals and their interactions, production techniques, risk factors, and disposal methods.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of water treatment systems operator. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Operate centrifuges: Adjust working conditions as speed and time of centrifuges according to the requirements of the product in the process. Operate centrifuges.
  • Follow water supply schedule: Adapt operations in the distribution and supply of water for irrigation purposes, residential or facility use to ensure that the timing is correct and the schedule is followed.
  • Operate pumping equipment: Operate pumping equipment; oversee gas and oil transport from wellheads to refineries or storage facilities.
  • Set up equipment for food production: Set up machinery and equipment for food production. Make sure that controls, settings, and input requirements are according to the required standards.
  • Maintain water treatment equipment: Perform repairs and routine maintenance tasks on equipment used in water and waste water purification and treatment processes.
  • Collect samples for analysis: Collect samples of materials or products for laboratory analysis.
  • Use personal protection equipment: Make use of protection equipment according to training, instruction and manuals. Inspect the equipment and use it consistently.
  • Carry out waste water treatment: Perform waste water treatment according to regulations checking for biological waste and chemical waste.
  • Ensure equipment availability: Ensure that the necessary equipment is provided, ready, and available for use before start of procedures.
  • Maintain water distribution equipment: Perform routine maintenance tasks, identify flaws, and perform repairs on the equipment used to supply and distribute clean water.
  • Liaise with colleagues: Liaise with colleagues to ensure a common understanding of work-related affairs and agree on the compromises the parties might need to face. Negotiate compromises between parties to ensure that work, in general, runs efficiently towards the achievement of the objectives.
  • Ensure proper water storage: Ensure that correct procedures are followed and the required equipment is present and functional for water storage before treatment or distribution.
  • Manage environmental management system: Develop and implement an environmental management system.
  • Operate hydraulic machinery controls: Use the controls of specialized machinery correctly by turning valves, handwheels, or rheostats to move and control the flow of fuels, water, and dry or liquid binders to machines.
  • Ensure equipment maintenance: Ensure that the equipment required for operations is regularly checked for faults, that routine maintenance tasks are performed, and that repairs are scheduled and performed in the case of damage or flaws.
  • Monitor centrifugal separators: Operating and monitoring centrifugal separators.
  • Maintain desalination control system: Maintain a system to obtain potable water from saline water.
  • Monitor water quality: Measure water quality: temperature, oxygen, salinity, pH, N2, NO2,NH4, CO2, turbidity, and chlorophyll. Monitor microbiological water quality.
  • Dispose food waste: Dispose or collect food waste with the purpose of recycling or throwing away from the production process. Follow established procedures for their disposal taking care of the environment and safety matters according to legislation.
  • Perform water chemistry analysis: Perform water chemistry analysis
  • Perform water testing procedures: Conduct testing procedures on water quality, such as pH tests and dissolved solids. Understand instrumentation drawings.
  • Work in a food processing team: Collaborate in a team with other food processing professionals in service of the food and beverages industry.
  • Liaise with managers: Liaise with managers of other departments ensuring effective service and communication, i.e., sales, planning, purchasing, trading, distribution, and technical.
  • Maintain tanks: Clean and keep tanks, basins, and filter beds in adequate condition using hand tools and power tools.
  • Label samples: Label raw material/ product samples for laboratory checks according to the implemented quality system.

ISCO group and title

3132 – Incinerator and water treatment plant operators

  1. Water treatment systems operator – ESCO
  2. Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. What does a water treatment plant operator do? – CareerExplorer
  4. Featured image: By U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District – Taking water samples from treatment ponds, Public Domain
Last updated on April 18, 2023