The Engineering Department manages a multi-year Capital Improvements Program (CIP) for the WRA and identifies improvements based on performance and needs throughout the WRA System and WRA Facilities. The department continuously monitors and assesses the WRA System and Facilities to determine if they are performing optimally and identifies and collaboratively implements operational strategies to optimize the performance of the system and of its individual facilities.
There are three full time staff who operate and maintain the WRA’s 119 flow meters used to monitor and bill the member communities for their allocation of the flow sent to the WRF, and five full time staff who manage CIP projects and improvements to the WRA System and Facilities.
Industrial Pretreatment & Laboratory
The WRA Industrial Pretreatment Department is responsible for ensuring that discharges from industrial and commercial users to the sanitary sewer system do not contain pollutants that may be detrimental to the integrity of the sewer system, create unsafe conditions for Public Works employees, cause interference or pass-through at the Wastewater Reclamation Facility (WRF), or which may cause the WRF to violate its permits. The Industrial Pretreatment team consists of six full- time Regulatory Compliance Inspectors who conduct inspections and samplings at industrial and commercial facilities throughout the Des Moines Metropolitan Area to ensure that wastewater does not violate local, state, or Federal laws. The WRF also has an onsite wet chemistry laboratory with two full-time Laboratory Analysts as part of the team who conduct analytical testing on industrial wastewater samples and the WRF’s internal samples for process control and permit compliance purposes.
Plant Field Services
The WRA Plant Field Services (PFS) Department is responsible for the land application of biosolids, maintaining facility grounds, and assisting operations and maintenance with jetting and other operations. During the wastewater treatment process, some of the microorganisms are no longer needed and are removed from the process to create biosolids. The PFS team members ensure that all the biosolids created during the treatment process are safely hauled, properly spread and incorporated into farm fields. In addition to this, the PFS Department maintains the facility grounds, assists in crane operations, special projects and jetting (cleaning) of process piping.
There are eleven full-time Plant Field Workers and one 7-Month (Seasonal) Plant Field Worker. To qualify for these positions, an applicant should have experience with farm implements/construction equipment, driving Semi Tractor Trailers and Dump Trucks. A Class A CDL is required for this job. An applicant should be able to work long hours in the spring and fall and spend most of their day outside or in a truck.
The Maintenance Department at the WRA is comprised of more than 30 skilled tradesmen that serve a very important function both at the wastewater facility as well as the pump stations located around the metro. The department’s main purpose and responsibility is to perform scheduled maintenance on critical plant equipment that lessens the possibility of that equipment failing prior to its life expectancy. In addition to servicing and maintaining existing equipment, our maintenance workers are also called on to replace worn out equipment. This is an ongoing process that continues throughout the life of the plant and as equipment ages, it is replaced before it fails and causes an unscheduled event to occur. The department often rebuilds critical equipment internally to save time and money and provide a quick turnaround time and extend the life of the equipment. The maintenance department also ensures that testing of the equipment is conducted at intervals specified by the regulatory agencies or in the licensing conditions. Scheduled tasks are correlated and coordinated with other departments to ensure that procedures are followed and there is compliance with all safety standards. This sees to the efficiency of the plant and the safety of all our employees and visitors.
Our maintenance personnel are well trained and highly skilled professionals. They have gone through extensive initial training programs that train new employees and enhance the skills of experienced members through continuing education and other trainings to keep them current on new procedures, equipment, tools and processes. We have several trades within our Maintenance Department functioning both on an individual as well as a collaborative basis. Trades include Mechanical, Electrical, Instrumentation, Lubrication, Painting, Heating and Ventilation.
The WRA is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment to our employees, visitors, and customers. Our workplace safety program improves the safety of the work environment through recognition, evaluation, and control of hazardous conditions. The WRA strives to reduce the frequency and severity of injuries to staff through training, implementation of safe work practices, and compliance with regulatory requirements. Providing a safe and healthy working environment is a value we pass on to our staff and it ensures delivery of important services to our communities, and that our employees go home the same way they came to work.
The WRA Wastewater Safety Manager is a Certified Industrial Hygienist with extensive experience in occupational safety and health and works collaboratively with the Wastewater Training Specialist to deliver extensive safety training to employees. Our Hazmat technicians and Confined Space Rescue Team includes 10 members who have received advanced training in their areas of focus which elevates our capabilities in delivering stellar safety and health programs. Our safety committee includes employees and management who work together to improve safety and health in our facility.
At the WRA, the Operations Department is tasked with making sure that the treatment process is running correctly and efficiently. Currently there is only one position in the operations department, Wastewater Operator Specialist. Each new Operator Specialist is a part of our operator apprenticeship program. In the apprenticeship program each apprentice must successfully complete seven courses at DMACC; 6,000 hours of on the job training; get a class A CDL and achieve an Iowa Grade 2 Wastewater License. Operator Specialists must have a wide range of knowledge about treatment processes. At any given moment the Operations Department is processing between 30-590 million gallons of water each day between the treatment plant and wet weather facilities. A typical day for an operator specialist will involve performing rounds in their assigned areas, collecting samples, processing samples, analyzing data, making adjustments based off analyzed data, preforming preventive maintenance and reporting observations to the next shift so smooth operation can continue.
Operator Specialists are at the plant 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. The department is broken up into three different shifts, 1st which works from 11:15 p.m.- 7:30 a.m., 2nd that works from 7:15 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and 3rd that works 3:15 p.m.-11:30 p.m. Each shift has eight Operators that each have an assigned five-day work week. An interested applicant would want to have the ability to work overnight or weekend hours, be able to obtain a class A CDL, and a wastewater grade 2 certification. Wastewater experience is preferred but not required.
There are many different types of career opportunities at the WRA. If you are interested in learning more about what job openings are currently available, please visit governmentjobs.com/careers/desmoines.