Nine candidates have completed a program for leadership in water and wastewater system operations. Contract operations and maintenance firm Alliance Water Resources sponsored the program for selected employees in response to the need for increasingly higher skill sets at the local utility level.

Community water and wastewater systems face increasing competition for skilled leaders as the industry battles “brain drain” – a massive loss of intellectual capital as the “baby boomer” generation enters retirement. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, an agency of the Federal Government, states on its website that water and wastewater operator job growth nationally and statewide is above the national average.

Leadership Alliance is modeled after similarly-named community and state leadership programs. The program serves as a “missing link” between technical know-how and the increasing governmental, professional and communications expertise needed to become a successful system manager. Participants complete a pair of intensive two-day training sessions on industry topics.

Instruction on public project funding, workforce planning, governmental processes and other system management know-how is included. In addition, participants complete self-study assignments and are required to make a presentation to the group. Demonstrated leadership and interpersonal skills are primary factors in participant selection.

“District and municipal leaders depend on us to recruit and retain qualified, licensed operators and managers for their local systems. Leadership Alliance helps us prepare the next generation of leaders from our incredibly talented group of current employees,” said Caroline Andriano, human resources manager for Alliance Water Resources.

Participants for Leadership Alliance were first nominated by supervisors, and then selected from application entries and personal interview results. Graduates of the class of 2008 are: Gail Bader of Public Water Supply District #3 of Franklin County; Mike Dwyer and Jonell Hase of Public Water Supply District #2 of St. Charles County; Dustin Grabin and David Simko of O’Fallon; Anthony Hays and Veronica Salmons of the Company\'s home office in Columbia; Tad Pruitt of Cameron; and Chris Summers of Cape Girardeau.

Headquartered in Columbia, Mo., Alliance Water Resources is an environmental management company serving community water and wastewater systems. The company partners with communities in Missouri and Iowa to manage issues such as federal and state regulatory compliance, operator certification and capital improvement project management.