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Clean water on Whiteman

Members of the Water and Waste Treatment Plant (WWTP) perform maintenance to the headworks of the WWTP outside Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Aug. 29, 2017. The headworks are the part of the plant where the wastewater initially meets the system. The headworks have a screen and an auger that filters containments. Members of the WWTP Team are responsible for collecting and treating the wastewater at Whiteman.

Members of the Water and Waste Treatment Plant (WWTP) perform maintenance to the headworks of the WWTP outside Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., Aug. 29, 2017. The headworks are the part of the plant where the wastewater initially meets the system. The headworks have a screen and an auger that filters containments. Members of the WWTP Team are responsible for collecting and treating the wastewater at Whiteman.

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The Water and Waste Treatment Plant (WWTP) at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, has an impact on the base that many may not realize. The Airmen collect and treat the wastewater that comes from the base and also maintain the equipment used with the water. To ensure clean water leaves the plant, the water goes through various treatment stages.

“Our main objective is to make sure the local waterways stay clean,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Bogedain, the NCO in charge of the water and waste treatment facilities assigned to the 509th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES). “It’s an important job because we take all the base’s wastewater to collect and treat it. Without the Airmen working in this plant, there could be diseases, smells and other unsanitary things around base.”

The WWTP is essential for Whiteman's mission. The Airmen who work at the plant create a higher quality of life on base by taking care of all the wastewater.

“We are responsible for treating the wastewater that comes from Whiteman,” said Bogedain. “Anything that gets put into the sewage system will eventually get to the plant.”

There are several qualifications required to become a WWTP operator.

“We need to be certified through the state of Missouri and trained because we are dealing with wildlife,” said Senior Airman Anish Chauhan, a water and fuel systems management journeyman assigned to the 509th CES. “If the water isn’t treated properly before it’s released, it will go to the nearest river or lake and could harm the fish or other animals drinking that water. We have to ensure the water we release is as clean as the water we get from nature.”

An individual must learn all the facets of the job and meet certain time qualifications. After those are met, they must take a state-certified exam to become a licensed operator. Once the person has his or her license to operate he or she must maintain it by attending classes. A person can upgrade the license by attending a class and taking a higher level exam. By attending these courses, one earns Continuous Education Units used to maintain or upgrade a license.

Members who work at the WWTP must stay well educated and up-to-date on training needed for the day-to-day operations. This career field contains a lot of training, progress and expertise, but it is a mission-essential job.

“This job is unique to our career field because most bases don’t have a wastewater system, or if they do it is contracted out,” said Bogedain. “Our career field covers many areas of the base from wastewater treatment, water distribution, liquid fuels management, swimming pool maintenance and more. Honestly, there is never a boring day since you can find yourself doing a number of different things throughout your career.”