Water treatment plants are essential to our everyday life. Without these water treatment plants domestic and industrial wastes would accumulate, and our water would rapidly become unfit for use. Disease would spread among the entire water supply, killing off fish and wildlife. Swimming, boating, and other recreational activities would become unpleasant, as well as dangerous, and certain industries would be incapable of functioning. The workers who operate these plants control the equipment and processes that remove the wastes or make them harmless. The workers then return the water in sanitary condition, safe for human consumption or any other use. Waste materials from homes, public buildings, and industrial plants are transported by water through sewer pipes to the treatment plants. These wastes include both organic and inorganic solids, some of which may be toxic, such as lead or mercury. The operators of the sewage treatment plants regulate the flow of oncoming sewage by adjusting valves and gates either manually or by remote control, and monitor the various meters and gauges that indicate when the equipment and processes are working properly. They operate and maintain the pumps, engines, and generators that move the raw sewage through the treatment processes of filtration, settling, aeration, and sludge digestion. The operators also work chemical-feeding devices, collect sewage samples, and conduct laboratory tests. They must maintain the proper level of chlorine in the wastewater. Water treatment plant operators must keep a log of the operations, in which they record the meter and gauge readings, and make minor repairs on valves, pumps, and other equipment. They use common hand tolls such as gauges, wrenches, and pliers to make these repairs. The operators may supervise attendants and helpers who perform routine tasks and maintenance work. Sometimes plant operators have to work under emergency conditions. Sometimes when heavy storms hit, sewer pipes may become flooded. Sometimes the operator needs to repair chlorine gas leaks. Another problem that operators may need to repair or work on is a deficiency in oxygen. A water treatment plant operator earns approximately $22,440 per year. The plant pictured below is located about 7 miles south of Tacoma, Washington on the Puget Sound.
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