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Federal government addresses shortage of water industry workers

EPA water.jfif
Contreras-Alvarado, Izamar
City of Grand Rapids water system chemist

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has introduced a new training program supported by Bay College, the City of Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Community College.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it will invest $3.8 million in developing the next generation of water professionals. A portion of that money, $500,000, was awarded to the Michigan agencies for teaching middle- and high school students about freshwater and waste water and providing opportunities for jobs in high-unemployment neighborhoods.

In a news release, GRCC’s School of Workforce Development said it will launch boot camp-style workshops for anyone interested in water and wastewater careers. The services are critical to maintaining public, environmental and economic health, the school said.

Wayne Jernberg, water system manager for the city of Grand Rapids said, “Like water and sewer utilities across the nation, Grand Rapids is experiencing staffing shortages due to retirements and the lack of a diverse pool of qualified water professionals. We are confident that this partnership with GRCC will help to address our long-term workforce needs and encourage young people within the community to pursue a career in the water industry.”

Bay College will assist with its Water Resource Management programs administering specialized training.