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, learn 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 events are collections systems, laboratory, process control, maintenance and safety. Winners are determined by a weighted points system.

Operations Challenge, the water sector's premier skills competition, is unmatched in delivering cross training, team building, and professional development.

Congratulations to the 45 teams who competed in Operations Challenge 2022. Read some of the Highlights in WEFTEC Now.

Rigor, Rivalry, and Reunion on Display

The overall division winners were:

Division 1
1st Place: Elevated Ops from the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association
2nd Place: Centrifugal Force from the Water Environment Association of Texas
3rd Place: Lethal Concentration from the Water Environment Association of South Carolina

Division 2
1st Place: Sewerside Squad from the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association
2nd Place: Smooth Operators from NC One Water
3rd Place: River Guardians from the Water Environment Association of Texas

Division 3
1st Place: Mixed Liquors from the New York Water Environment Association
2nd Place: Mass Chaos from the New England Water Environment Association
3ed Place: Dirty Birds from the Florida Water Environment Association

See the Full Results

Cultivating Leaders with Operations Challenge


There are three Divisions at Operations Challenge at WEFTEC. 

Division I
Returning teams* that were in the top nine overall winning positions in Division 1 the previous year. This also includes any returning team that competed in the previous year's Division II Competition and placed in the top three positions overall.

Division II
Returning teams who do not qualify for Division I. This also includes any returning team that competed in the previous year's Division III Competition and placed in the top three positions overall.

Division III
New teams whose members have never competed at WEFTEC for that utility. A team may compete in Division III for up to two consecutive years. If a member has previously competed at WEFTEC, but not for their current employer, their team is eligible to compete in Division 3. 

*A returning team is defined as any team that includes at least three members of the team that have participated in any of the previous two WEF Operations Challenge competitions from that member association. 

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.

Operations Challenge Event Tutorials

The Operations Challenge Committee has put together these helpful step-by-step Event Tutorials. Please use these tutorials in conjunction with the Event Descriptions on the Team Resource Center. Any questions about a specific event should be directed through that events page on the Team Resource Center. 

Collections Event Tutorial

Vaughan Maintenance Event Tutorial

Laboratory Event Tutorial

Safety Event Tutorial

Watch Operations Challenge

Check out event highlights over the years and view the event tutorials on the Operations Challenge Youtube playlist.

The 2021 Operations Challenge Awards were Livestreamed and can be viewed on Facebook, no Facebook account needed to view. 

2020 Operations Challenge teams competed virtually on the GoToWebinar platform. The recordings are available to watch for free

Operations Challenge E-Signatures

We all love Operations Challenge. Show your love by including Operations Challenge in your email signature. Identify your affiliation, Competitor, Volunteer, or Supporter, or use just the Operations Challenge logo. 

Ops Challenge Competitor E-sig

Ops Challenge Volunteer E-sig

Ops Challenge Supporter E-sig

Ops Challenge E-sig




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