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About Program


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Program Purpose: Students taking courses in the Water Science (WS) program will learn the technical concepts underlying the water industry. Program outcomes will include the ability to analyze water chemistry, evaluate sources of contamination, design water delivery and treatment systems, and examine environmental issues related to domestic water use. Courses in the WS program are applicable towards licensure, continuing education credits, and may be used by students seeking quality employment opportunities.

Program Description: The WS program provides students with the technical training they need to pursue a career in the municipal potable water and wastewater industries. Waterworks operators protect public health by ensuring that plant operations comply with state and federally mandated drinking water and wastewater disposal standards. Students seeking an Associate's Degree in Water Science may choose the Water option to prepare them for a career in potable water treatment or the Wastewater option to prepare them for a career in wastewater sanitation. Regardless of the option chosen, both paths lead to rewarding careers protecting the health of both the community and the environment at local, state, and federal levels.

What is Water Science?

The processing and delivery of potable water and proper treatment and disposal of wastewater is a significant health concern. The Water Science program trains and qualifies water service workers to work in municipal water districts, in accordance with industry standards.


Career Opportunities:

The water/wastewater industry facilitates countless employment opportunities. Many people do not think much about the work required to get safe drinking water from the source to your faucet. It takes planning, equipment, collaboration, and physical effort to extract water from its source; treat the raw water so it is safe for consumption; distribute the treated water to consumers; collect the wastewater produced by consumers and precipitation events; and then treat the wastewater before it is returned to the system. Each stage requires unique skill sets and training. This process translates into a multitude of jobs. Modern water and wastewater treatment plants require new technical skills. Currently employed technicians require constant upgrading of their skills, and both groups of employees must become State certified to become or to remain employed. The field of water and wastewater treatment is ever-changing and the demands for qualified personnel will be constant as this field continues to change and expand.

With approximately 156,000 public water systems (PWS), the United States has one of the safest PWS supplies in the world. More than 286 million Americans get their tap water from a community water system (EPA 2008). Water, Wastewater, and Stormwater utilities will contribute $524 billion to the national economy over the next decade, supporting 289,000 permanent jobs.  In addition, 30% of the water sector workforce is currently eligible for retirement. Utilities are actively recruiting and training new workers to fill these employment opportunities.

In 2016, median pay for water/wastewater treatment plant operators in the US was $46,760 per year or $22.00 per hour. 117,000 jobs were reported in 2014 with an annual anticipated increase of 8% (7,000 jobs) by 2024 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). California is the state with the highest level of employment in Water/Wastewater profession, followed by Texas. California is also the top paying state, followed by Nevada. City areas, such as Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, and Riverside have larger systems and thus have more employees than smaller communities.

Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs):

Degrees & Certificates Offered:

Student Network: 

Water Science Advisory Committee - Meeting Minutes:


Lead Faculty: Mary Woo
Phone: 805-289-6162