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.

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.

Operations Challenge is back in-person at WEFTEC 2021. Highlights of the 34th annual competition include:

  • returning 2020 Division I champion Controlled Chaos face off against 2019 champion Elevated Ops, along with other longtime favorites L.A. Wrecking Crew, TRA CReWSers, and Team HRSD
  • simultaneous completion of the three portions of the riveting Process event
  • the introduction of Division III to the in-person event, where new teams get their first taste of international competition.

The competition will take place Monday and Tuesday, October 18 and 19, in McCormick Place's South Hall.

Due to potential physical distancing policies at McCormick Place this year's event will be limited to 36 teams. Please submit registrations promptly.

Registration form

Safety is our top priority, so we urge all competitors and volunteers to get the COVID-19 vaccine. 


Registration 2021

The Registration Portal for Operations Challenge 2021 will open July 26 and close on September 10, no late registrations will be accepted.

Download the Registration Form

Registration Form

Once complete, please email a copy of your registration to [email protected] no later than September 10, 2021. Forms can be submitted and payment can me made online or via check as early as July 14, 2021. 

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 2021 
Water Environment Federation
601 Wythe St
Alexandria, VA 22314

The cost to compete in Operations Challenge 2021 is $1000 per team.

Once we have received payment, your Team Contact will receive instructions on how to register each team member. 

Schedule 2021

Sunday, October 17, 2021
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm CDT | New Team Orientation: Process/Math Review
1:30 pm – 4:30 pm CDT | New Team Orientation: Lab, Collections, Safety, and Maintenance Events 

Monday, October 18, 2021 
8:30 am – 9:30 am CDT | Opening Remarks and Pre Competition meeting
9:30 pm – 11:00 am CDT | Process Control Event
11:00 am – 4:00 pm CDT | Laboratory Event

Tuesday, October 19, 2021
9:00 am – 3:30 pm CDT | Collections, Safety, and KSB Maintenance Events
5:30 pm – 8:00 pm CDT | Awards Reception at the Hilton Chicago





There will be three Divisions at Operations Challenge 2021. 

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.

Division III
New teams whose members have never competed at WEFTEC for that utility. 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. 

Watch Operations Challenge 2020

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

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 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 Challange 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