Stacy Passaro, National Green Infrastructure Certification Program Manager, WEF Stormwater Institute, spoke on a webinar hosted by Jobs for the Future (JFF) recently. You’ve likely read about JFF here in NewTerrain. They are the organization that’s working to quantify the green infrastructure workforce. Look for more on the results of their survey and research later in the year.
Meanwhile, WEF (Water Environment Federation), a D.C. based non-profit, has assembled a national-level group of water utility stakeholders, an effort undertaken in conjunction with D.C. Water, to develop a national level green infrastructure certification program.
The aim is straightforward, Stacy explained: Make sure that skilled labor can install, inspect and maintain green infrastructure stormwater facilities. Doing so will support sustainable performance of the practices and create jobs. “We want a skilled labor pool to work on these facilities and ensure money being invested is being put to good use and [the utility will] get long life out of the GI practices,” she said.
The certification is to be targeted to entry level workers that will install, maintain and inspect green stormwater infrastructure (GSI). She said that the first certifications will be awarded in January 2017.
“Certification is focused on defining what the core skills and knowledge is and designing an exam that will test the people being certified on that,” she said. Ongoing education will be required to maintain the certification so that workers stay current as the field advances.
Partner utilities engaged in the process include Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District; Montgomery County, MD; Kansas City, Missouri Water Services Department; Fairfax County, Virginia; City of Baltimore Department of Public Works; Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District; San Francisco Public Utilities Commission; and Capital Region Water, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Other partnerships are in the works.
Based on the results from a survey conducted of field-level GI practitioners, Stacy said that the most important takeaway is ensuring workers engaging in green infrastructure work become more aware of the big picture: How GI should be functioning overall so they understand issues like construction sequence, water treatment, stormwater flow, safety concerns, vegetation, documentation and how to determine if the GI practice is functioning as intended, etc.
Look for national-level rollout of the WEF certification in January 2018. Stay tuned.
NewTerrain July 15, 2016.