(Franklin, IN) The Alliance of Indiana Rural Water, a local non-profit organization supporting Indiana’s rural water industry, has secured a total of 4.1 million dollars in reimbursement grants from the Indiana Finance Authority (IFA) for rural communities across the state to utilize in order to gain more licensed water and wastewater operators. Access to this grant funding began in 2018 and will continue through December 2023. With over 50% of the water industry workforce retiring in the next five years, communities will fail to prosper or eventually even exist if replacements aren’t put in place and properly trained. Water and Wastewater Operations Specialists are imperative to our communities for access to clean drinking water and to ensure wastewater effluent is returned to the environment properly. The IFA, whose mission is “to oversee state-related debt issuance and provide efficient and effective financing solutions to facilitate state, local government and business investment in Indiana (in.gov),” has offered this grant opportunity to help subsidize utilities’ participation in the Alliance of Indiana Rural Water’s Apprenticeship Program, as approved by the U.S Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship.
In response to the industry’s need to train the next generation of skilled workers and standardize training across the state of Indiana, the Alliance of Indiana began taking on apprentices through the National Rural Water Association’s Apprenticeship Program. Once an Apprentice completes this 2-year program and passes an aptitude test given by the State of Indiana, he or she is considered a journey worker and can complete tasks unsupervised, making this person employable as a Systems Operations Specialist in the Water or Wastewater Industry. The Alliance was the very first state rural water association in the country to graduate an apprentice and has since become nationally recognized and a leader in combating future industry employment shortfalls.
The following Indiana towns, cities, or corporations have participated or are currently participating in the Alliance’s Apprenticeship Program: Albany Waterworks/Sewage Dept., BBP Water Corp., Bremen, Chalmers, Clay City, Colfax Water Works, Hartford City, Kingsford Heights, Lagro, Lewisville, Montezuma, New Castle, North Liberty, Oxford, Paoli, Plainville, Reynolds, Salem, Scottsburg, Silver Lake, South Harrison, Tennyson, Van Buren, Milford, Montpelier, Oakland City, Otterbein Water & Sewage Utilities, Pike-Gibson Water, Inc., Roann, Sullivan-Vigo Rural Water Corporation, Windfall Valley Rural Water Corp., and West Terre Haute Water & Wastewater.