employees need to know in order to perform their work reliably. For
example, in determining training needs for tracker-loader backhoe
operators, the Union Sanitary District in Fremont, CA identified
fundamentals such as trenching and soil compaction; system
components such as back-up alarms; and tasks, including inspection
of the job site.
2. Risk Assessment and Prioritization. Metro Vancouver (which includes 21
municipalities, one treaty First Nation and one electoral area) priori-tized
development of technical training tools for workers at a new wa-ter
treatment plant by: 1) identifying tasks associated with operation of
the plant, 2) assessing the probability of error in relation to each task, 3)
rating the severity of the consequence of any failure, and 4) assigning a
risk rating (probability x consequence of failure) to each task.
3. Track Investments in Staff Preparedness. The Littleton/Englewood
Wastewater Treatment Plant in Englewood, CO initiates a work order
on its computerized Materials Management System whenever the
need for a new Standard Operating Procedure is identified. This al-lows
the agency to track the staff time used to develop the procedure.
4. Measure the Effectiveness of Investments. At Union Sanitary District,
technical training is followed immediately by field evaluations. At
Metro Vancouver, the interactive online component of staff training
includes a testing component that requires employees to complete a
certain percentage of answers correctly.
5. Bring the Right Skill Sets to the Work. Documentation of the knowl-edge
of technical workers requires more than subject matter exper-tise.
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has established
that the following skill sets are also needed to produce the range
of training materials required: technical writing ability, instructional
design expertise, and photographic and videographic skills.
6. Make an Investment Commensurate with the Task. Metro Vancouver has
applied the guideline that 0.3 percent of capital improvement fund-ing
should be directed to training materials. This has resulted in an
investment of approximately $1 million in training materials for the
staff of its Seymour-Capilano Filtration Plant.
7. Employ Technology to Optimize Employees’ Access to Information. Uti-lize
video technology to create learning materials. Colorado Springs
Utilities, Colorado Springs, CO, has a strong in-house capability to
do this. Develop interactive e-learning modules (Metro Vancouver);
expand automation of basic operational tasks to make increased staff
time available for documentation (Little-Englewood Wastewater
Treatment Plant); and utilize computerized knowledge management
systems (Metro Vancouver’s Seymour-Capilano Filtration Plant).
As an industry, knowledge management has not typically been our
strength. Working together and learning from what other utilities have
done, we can all do better. S
RESOURCES SINCE UTILITIES HAVE HISTORICALLY OPERATED on the
basis that staff knowledge will be available indefinitely (per-haps
because staff turnover was very low for decades), one
focus of the BAYWORK regional consortium of San Francisco
Bay Area water/wastewater utilities has been to strengthen the
capacity of individual utilities to document, retain, and transfer
the knowledge employees require to do quality work.
BAYWORK has three subcommittees: Candidate Develop-ment,
Staff Preparedness, and Website. Robert Scott at Santa
Clara Valley Water District is the Chair of the Staff Preparedness
Committee, which plans and executes our workshops.
One aspect of BAYWORK’s effort has been research on util-ities
that have made significant accomplishments in this area.
During 2012, our staff collected surveys and did site visits with
industry leaders. We have since made the surveys, PowerPoints
and resource materials collected in connection with these site
visits available in the Resources section of our website under
Workshops and Events; go to at http://baywork.org.
BAYWORK has also sponsored a series of workshops aimed
at strengthening the capacity of utilities to create documen-tation
and training materials. Resource materials from these
workshops can be downloaded from Workshops and Events.
Workshops include: “Strategic Investments in Staff Knowl-edge”
(February 2015), “Staff Preparedness: Lessons Learned
from Star Utilities” (February 2013), “Using Technology to
Teach” (May 2012), and “Effective Use of Information Technol-ogy”
We have sponsored five “Workshops on Wheels” to help pro-vide
a wider range of technical training options than an agency
might be able to provide for itself. The workshops take water
and wastewater staffs on site visits where facility innovations
are demonstrated and explained (See SOURCE, Spring, 2014).
Our November 2014 “Training Buffet” featured training cover-ing
the spectrum from water quality regulations to succession
planning, all taught free by knowledgeable staff of signatory
agencies. In April 2015, we sponsored a Maintenance and As-set
Management Workshop for Utilities. Videos, PowerPoints,
and resource materials from these workshops are also avail-able
on the website. S