SCSC to Focus on City Water and Wastewater Operations Succession

South Central Service Cooperative staff, along with staff from other Minnesota Service Cooperatives, are diving into the educational and staffing issues surrounding city water and wastewater operations.

Research shows a limited number of young people are entering the city water and wastewater operations field in comparison to the number of people who will retire from the field in the next five plus years.

SCSC staff along with members from Southwest West Central Service Cooperative, Sourcewell, Lakes Country Service Cooperative and Resource Training & Solutions held a meeting with Gregg Kropp, St. Cloud Technical & Community College Water Environment Technologies instructor, in December to determine how the service cooperatives and college could partner to address staff shortage issues in this area.

The Water Environmental Technologies program at St. Cloud Technical & Community College offers a 44-credit diploma program and an additional six credits in written and oral communication skills. The college also offers an AAS degree in this area that includes the 44 credits and an additional 15 credits from general education.

One of the issues surrounding this program is interest from young people; fewer than 20 students participate annually in the program. The second key issue is hands-on practical experience at a city facility. The school has a small operating water treatment facility and other equipment and training tools, but actual field training is necessary.

The group decided to partner on a few key areas: 

  • Develop an awareness within area high schools that water and wastewater operations offer a professional career in local government that provide excellent wages and benefits.
  • Education and training cost are very reasonable compared to starting wages.
  • Design and develop an internship program that meets the needs of students and their potential employers.
  • Communicate the need for placement of these students within cities in the various MSC regions.
  • Identify funding sources and partners such as the Minnesota Rural Water Association and Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association for a successful internship program.

The long-range goals of this effort are to:

  • Create a pipeline of employees to work in the communities within our regions.
  • Follow and research trends and the state and federal government reporting requirements.
  • Provide assistance from MSC staff if and where assistance is needed.

For questions or to provide input contact Mike Humpal, CEcD Manager of Local Government Solutions at 507-389-5766.