How do operators and technicians overcome flooding, a sewer collapse, process failure and other emergencies?

Do you ever wonder what transpires behind the scenes during the operation of a water resource recovery facility? Instead of continuing to take these unsung specialists for granted, leran how the best wastewater collection and treatment personnel in the world display their skills at Operations Challenge.

In the competition, teams compete to earn the highest score in five different events. Each team includes four members and often a coach as well. Each event is designed to test the diverse skills required for the operation and maintenance of water resource recovery facilities, collection systems, and laboratories. The five event are collections systems, laboratory, process control, maintenance and safety. Winners are determined by a weighted points system.

In 2020 we are taking Operations Challenge Virtual. Each team is still sponsored by a WEF Member Association or recognized Operator Association, however, there is no limit to the number of teams that can participate. See below for details and registration information. 

In 2019, Elevated Ops from the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association earned the Division 1 first place trophy. The North Texas Rangers from the Water Environment Association of Texas clinched first place in Division 2.

This year, we’ve taken Operations Challenge and reshaped it for our virtual experience. Two-person teams will compete remotely in three categories: process control, laboratory, and collections. Judges will score each team in real-time during their scheduled virtual session, and the winners in each category will be announced at the Operations Challenge awards ceremony on Thursday, October 8.

Divisions 2020

There will be four Divisions in this year’s competition. Please read the descriptions below carefully and select the Division which best suits your needs:

Division I
Include at least one team member who has competed in a past Operations Challenge competition at WEFTEC. Teams may have up to four team members, each of who must compete in at least one of the 2-person events. All events have only two team members who may actively compete in that event.

Division II
Team consists of only two team members and must include at least one team member who has competed in a past Operations Challenge competition at WEFTEC.

Division III
Team consists of two team members, neither of whom have competed at a past Operations Challenge competition at WEFTEC. Team must compete in at least two of the three events.

Division IV
Also considered a Masters Division. Teams consists of two team members who have each been in the industry at least 20 years and have not competed in an Operations Challenge competition at WEFTEC in the past 5 years. Teams must compete in at least two of the three events.

Registration 2020

Registration for the 2020 Virtual Operations Challenge will open August 3 and close on September 11, no late registrations will be accepted.

Please download and complete the Registration form. Teams must still be endorsed by a WEF Member Association; however, they do not need to have competed at a regional competition in 2020. There will be no limit on the number of participating teams from each Member Association.

Once complete, please email a copy of your registration to [email protected] no later than September 11, 2020. Payment can me made online or via check.

Credit Card Payments can be made online by visiting Select “Operations Challenge” from the Category dropdown. Please include your Sponsoring MA in the “Company and Representative Name” and your Team Name in the “Product Description.”

Check payments can be mailed to:
Mr. Steve Harrison
Operations Challenge 2020
Water Environment Federation
601 Wythe St
Alexandria, VA 22314

The cost to compete in Operations Challenge 2020 is $100 per team.



Registration Form

Schedule 2020

September 2020 (date TBD) Online pre-competition team meeting and technology check

Monday, October 5, 2020
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm EST | Team Check-in
3:00 pm – 3:15 pm EST | Opening Remarks
3:15 pm – 4:00 pm EST | Pre competition meeting
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm EST | Process Control Event

Tuesday, October 6, 2020
10:00 am – 4:00 pm EST | Laboratory and Collections Events (Teams complete in both events in a preassigned 45-minute block)

Wednesday, October 7, 2020
10:00 am – 4:00 pm EST | Laboratory and Collections Events (Teams complete in both events in a preassigned 45-minute block)

Thursday, October 8, 2020
10:00 am – 1:00 pm EST | Laboratory and Collections Events (Teams complete in both events in a preassigned 45-minute block)
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm EST | Operations Challenge Virtual Awards Ceremony


How to compete and connect virtually

Teams will compete in the Process event simultaneously on Monday and will have a preassigned 45-minute competition block to complete in both the Laboratory and Collections events on either Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday.

Operations Challenge 2020 will take place using the GoToWebinar platform, a plug in will be required to use the platform. Teams will be required to have two live camera angles during the Laboratory and Collections events and one camera angle for the Process event. The Process event will also use the Hydomantis software. Additional details for how to connect will become available in September.

Watch Operations Challenge 2020

Operations Challenge 2020 will be streamed live via the GoToWebinar platform and viewing will be open to anyone who wishes to cheer on their favorite team. More details about how to view the event and the team schedule will be posted in late September.

Operations Challenge Team Resource Page

The Operations Challenge Team Resource page, hosted by the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association can be found here. The most up to date event descriptions and event FAQs can be found on this page.

WEF Professional Operator Membership

An active WEF membership and membership in your local WEF Member Association is required to participate in Operations Challenge. 

The Professional Operator membership is designed for operators and technicians directly involved in water reuse, wastewater treatment, collection systems, or laboratory operations. The cost is $75/year, plus local WEF Member Association dues for U.S. and Canada.

Additional details about member benefits and how to join can be found here. The membership fees can also be included when you pay for your Operations Challenge registration, however, please also include a copy of the completed WEF PO Member Application with your registration form.

If you are currently a member but do not know your member number, please contact WEF Customer Service at 1-800-666-0206 (toll-free) or 1-571-830-1545 (globally).

Operations Challenge History

Find out the full history of Operations Challenge. Since the event's inception in 1988, WEF's magazines have chronicled the details of each competition. The links below connect to PDF articles of the full coverage. Each entry is marked by the year, city of the competition, and the Division 1 winning team.


Operations Challenge History

Become a Sponsor or Partner

Interested in being a sponsor for, or a partner of, Operations Challenge? Email [email protected]