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Deep dive into study of water company jobs

Between the retirement of baby boomers and public investment in deteriorating infrastructure, jobs at public utility companies like Illinois American Water (IAW) will be plentiful in coming decades.  Nationwide, about 70 percent of the municipal water company workforce is approaching retirement.  Last week, a dozen Woodruff Career and Technical Center (WCTC) construction trade seniors toured IAW facilities to learn more about the skills necessary to qualify for internships and entry level positions at municipal water companies and the process to apply. 


IAW engineer Eric Larson also recommended applying for internships at smaller municipalities like Chillicothe, Creve Coeur or Morton. At smaller municipal water systems, interns wear many hats, he explained, working with sewer systems, the pump house and repairing water main breaks. Experience working in various areas helps interns build hours toward their Illinois Water Operator D, C or A license. Applicants with a college degree need only half the hours to be licensed.


“It’s a great time to get experience,” Larson told the students. “The industry is going to need project managers and people who can work with their hands.”


The city of Peoria has 7000 fire hydrants, each of which is inspected annually. Inspecting hydrants and valves make up the ongoing day-to-day projects for IAW staff members.


An IAW engineer described the purification process as water from the Illinois River is filtered and cleaned until it is safe for residents to drink. Students also viewed an old underground pipe deteriorated from minerals in the water, a cutaway of a fire hydrant, demonstrations of valve replacements and an overview of IAW software applications. Later in the day, students toured the IAW pump house.