360water has provided online continuing education to the water and wastewater industry for the last 23 years. Since the year 2000, 360water has developed a vast library of content, over 3,500 one-hour courses. In 2023 the company decided to look to what they had built and try to make available successful programs to a wider audience. The reality is there are more Small to Medium sized utilities than Large.
The 360water online library with some reconfiguring could be made more available to small utilities, while making sure it kept in line with smaller budgets. It just required some time and creative thinking. The issues that small utilities face include the following:
How to get easy access to state approved training without leaving the utility for an entire day.
Will everyone be able to get the training without leaving the plant short staffed?
Will leaving the facility create a safety issue for anyone left at the facility?
Can small plants have access to operation and maintenance training without breaking the budget?
Because the cornerstone of 360water was a small utility, it seemed only right to look at what was built and try to meet the need.
360waterPlus is a new product with a new look, but it solves the same old problem: knowledge capture and knowledge transfer. Small utilities are especially burdened by this problem because they have less staff, less resources, and smaller budgets.
360waterPlus offers a select curriculum of 60 one-hour courses on topics including operations, maintenance, safety, lab procedures, certification, and license renewal credits. The curriculum is accessed online similar to a library pass. The user pays a monthly or annual fee and receives unlimited access to training.
Online education is really the best option for utilities that have only 2-3 people on staff due to safety issues. Low staff levels present substantial operational, maintenance and safety issues. Further, will industry associations schedule enough training opportunities to meet the needs of small utilities? Free training that is available three hours away, once a year, is not a good option.
Finally, operation and maintenance training on equipment typically seen in the smaller plants was available, but would it be useful? With small and medium-sized utilities facing staff turnover there is a need to assist in onboarding new employees. The problems will always be a vicious cycle swirling around (1) bringing new staff up to speed and (2) retirement of experienced staff (their institutional knowledge leaves with them). One way to offer some assistance is to select courses for standard systems typically seen in the smaller plants. For example, pumps, slakers, clarifiers, blowers, grit, chlorinators, and some other basic process pieces of equipment.
360waterPlus was launched in February of 2023. The team talked to many operators in the field in order to find out what training was needed and match their requests with the offering at 360waterPlus. Visit 360waterplus.com for more information.