Water and Sewage Treatment Plant Operator  What They Do

Just the Facts


Operates or controls an entire process or system of machines, often through the use of control boards, to transfer or treat water or liquid waste.

This career is part of the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources cluster Environmental Service Systems pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Adds chemicals, such as ammonia, chlorine, or lime, to disinfect and deodorize water and other liquids.
  • Inspects equipment or monitors operating conditions, meters, and gauges to determine load requirements and detect malfunctions.
  • Collects and tests water and sewage samples, using test equipment and color analysis standards.
  • Records operational data, personnel attendance, or meter and gauge readings on specified forms.
  • Operates and adjusts controls on equipment to purify and clarify water, process or dispose of sewage, and generate power.
  • Maintains, repairs, and lubricates equipment, using hand tools and power tools.
  • Cleans and maintains tanks, filter beds, and other work areas, using hand tools and power tools.
  • Directs and coordinates plant workers engaged in routine operations and maintenance activities.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupations requires climbing things such as ladders, scaffold, and poles more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Requires getting into awkward positions
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous situations involving possible injury such as cuts, bites, stings, and minor burns more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation involves kneeling, crouching, stooping, and/or crawling more than one-third of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Overtime work
  • Rotating shift work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Wastewater Treatment Operator -- Operates sewage treatment, sludge processing, and disposal equipment in wastewater (sewage) treatment plant to control flow and processing of sewage.
  • Water Quality Technician --
  • Water Treatment Technician --