Moraine Park Technical College, in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Bureau for Drinking & Groundwater, worked to develop and conduct three online training courses to enhance the DNR’s Public Wisconsin Capacity Development program.
The DNR regulates over 600 municipal water systems, the majority serving a population of fewer than 10,000 people. To ensure that the technical, managerial, and financial capacity of the state’s water utilities is maintained, the DNR created the Wisconsin Capacity Development program, which aims to help public water systems strengthen their ability to consistently supply safe drinking water to their customers. The program focuses on assisting system owners and operators with improving their technical abilities, managerial skills and financial resources to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.
“The purpose for this training is to increase the technical, managerial, and financial capacity of municipal water systems in Wisconsin, and to help decision-makers at these water systems make informed decisions,” Nicholas Bertolas, Capacity Development & Operator Certification Coordinator for the DNR Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater, said. “We hope these training opportunities will encourage better communication between decision-makers and water utility staff.”
In 2019, Moraine Park’s Economic and Workforce Development (EWD) department was awarded the project, which included the development, hosting and maintenance of the training for the DNR.
Each course includes four unique learning modules. The first two modules launched on Dec. 31, 2020, and are free to government bodies (village, city, or town boards), other utility governing boards (utility commissions), and professionals with decision authority as it pertains to drinking water utilities. To incentivize the online training modules, the DNR is offering continuing education credits to operators who take the training, as well as principal forgiveness points towards Safe Drinking Water Loan Program applications to municipalities who have a minimum of 50% of their governing body take and pass the training modules.
“These training opportunities are unique in that they benefit anyone that takes the course, from the first-time water board member who is just getting an introduction into water quality to the veteran certified operator that can pick-up some best practices,” Matt Goff, Moraine Park instructor, said. “Together we have developed something rather simple that can have a big impact on our local utilities.”
Moraine Park and the DNR have been long-standing partners on the DNR’s Operators Water Quality Program. They expanded their partnership in 2019 to add both the continuing education training for certified operators of small public drinking water systems and the online program. These programs are free for participants. This 3-year partnership between Moraine Park and the DNR is a first of its kind in Wisconsin, and its structure paves the way for future training opportunities.
For more information on Moraine Park’s EWD efforts, visit morainepark.edu/training.
For more information on the DNR’s Capacity Development program, visit https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/DrinkingWater/CapacityDevelopment.html.