For the fifth time, CIV Water organized the Drinking Water Engineering course at Vitens, a Dutch drinking water company. In this course participants learn a lot about the distribution, geohydrology, extraction and purification of drinking water. This edition was again very special.
Water Company Groningen
What was new was that for the first time a participant from Waterbedrijf Groningen joined in. There is good contact between the two drinking water producing companies. Groningen had become interested in participating because of the positive stories and therefore sent a participant to explore this course first.
Frits Dekker, an operator at Vitens, was the oldest participant this year in the course, at 63 years old. “I participated because I can learn from this.” he explains enthusiastically. “Other participants can in turn learn from my experience. I learned a lot about how others work, because we went to different pumping stations. The fact that I was the oldest of the group did not get in the way of a nice cooperation.” Frits talks about the cooperation with the students, “I thought the cooperation went quite well. I felt that I could teach the students something. They were very eager to learn.” Frits thinks it’s important to keep up training. “With the rapid changes in techniques, you stay up to date through courses and training,” says Frits. “You gain new ideas. You work together on certain cases. Although I’m not very adept at drafting a presentation, I was still able to contribute to it through my knowledge and experience.”
Frits would like to give his colleagues some advice: “Keep taking courses like this to keep up to date with all the rapid changes in technology.”
MBO Life Sciences students
What was special was that at the start of the course in September 2019, three students from MBO Life Sciences in Leeuwarden joined. Lecturer Simon Feersma Hoekstra arranged for the three students to participate. “That’s great, isn’t it, that you get students to work together with professionals from the field?” Two students followed the first two modules. One of the students followed the entire course. She also did an internship at Vitens and now has a job with the drinking water company. “Fantastic!” Simon responds when he heard that. “This is what you want, that your students and the company click so well that they offer a job right away.”
The Drinking Water Engineering course is a broad one that is basically suitable for anyone, but certainly within the Extraction and Purification department. This year, in addition to operators, former samplers and construction engineers, it also included someone responsible for security. In addition, there is a mix of very experienced and inexperienced people. The whole thing was developed for and by Vitens. This year, the training was supplemented by Waterbedrijf Groningen in the area of surface water treatment. The purpose of the training is to broaden the knowledge of the primary process of drinking water extraction and to acquire other new skills. With the broadening, the latest developments are also covered. The insights, knowledge and skills acquired contribute to a reduction in the number of failures and a uniform way of working. There is maximum knowledge exchange between company and school and continuous improvement.
Important components in these courses were the excursions and working on cases. The excursions were usually related to the topic of the course day. For example, when the subject was degassing, a production company was visited where this actually took place. When the subject was surface water, the location of Waterbedrijf Groningen in Glimmen was visited. Besides the theory and the excursions, the participants worked in groups on the cases. These groups differed per module. Each group received its own case study. At the end of the module the results of the case were presented to a delegation of management.
Corona and conclusion
Corona also had considerable consequences for this course. In particular, the third module on Distribution and Delivery was difficult to implement. Meetings could only take place via Microsoft Teams and excursions could not take place. The official closing also had to be cancelled. A competitive final test was conducted via Teams using Kahoot and resulted in a winner. The winner had not worked at Vitens very long and managed to beat everyone. The certificates were delivered coronaproof by Simon at the workplace of the participants.