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.

The 2023 Operations Challenge competition will have the largest number of teams in the history of the program, with 56 total teams coming from seven countries. 


2023 Competition Schedule 

Please note that due to the unprecedented number of teams, some Division III teams will compete in the Safety or Vaughan Maintenance Events on Monday and will compete in the Laboratory Event on Tuesday. Please see schedule for details.

Schedule 2023

2023 Competition Schedule

Sunday, October 1, 2023
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm CDT | New Team Orientation: Process Control - Open to all
1:30 pm – 4:30 pm CDT | New Team Orientation: Lab, Collections, Safety, and Vaughan Maintenance Events  - Invite Only

Monday, October 2, 2023 
8:30 am – 9:30 am CDT | Opening Remarks and Pre Competition meeting
9:30 pm – 10:30 am CDT | Process Control Event
10:30 am – 4:00 pm CDT | Laboratory Event
11:00 am – 4:30 pm CDT | Safety Virtual Realty
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm CDT | Select Division III teams compete in Safety and Vaughan Maintenance Events

Tuesday, October 3, 2023
8:30 am – 3:30 pm CDT | Collections, Safety, and Vaughan Maintenance Events
8:30 am – 1:00 pm CDT | Select Division III teams compete in the Laboratory Event
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm CDT | Awards Reception at the Hilton Chicago

Wednesday, October 4, 2023
9:45 am – 10:30 am CDT | Operations Challenge Community Meeting - Open to teams






Interested in Volunteering at WEFTEC? Read our FAQ and Sign up below. 
Who can volunteer? Anyone with the time to commit, an interest in water and operations, and a passion for giving back to the water community. Please note that an actively competing team member is not allowed to volunteer unless permission is given by the Operations Challenge Community Leadership.
What types of volunteer opportunities are there? Most of our volunteers are judging one of the five events. There is a mandatory two-hour training provided for judges, so you do not need to be an expert on the event to judge. There are other opportunities as well to help with set up, new team orientation, and event support. Please browse the various sign-up links below for details.
What is the time commitment? Most volunteers are required to volunteer for at least one full day of the conference, Monday or Tuesday, as well as a two-hour judges training either the day before or day of your commitment. Details are provided in the sign up. Please note that you are committing for the full time slot you sign up for. You are not able to take breaks to attended meetings or sessions. There is a scheduled break for lunch and convenience breaks as needed.
How do I know what to sign up for? Start by looking at opportunities available during your favorite event. If you are unfamiliar with each event, browse the Operations Challenge YouTube playlist and the Operations Challenge Resource Center to learn more about each event. Once you decide on the event you would like to judge, watch the Event Tutorial to become familiar with specifics of that event.
What is provided for volunteers? A limited edition 2023 Operations Challenge Official T-shirt and Hat, a boxed lunch if you are volunteer for a shift that covers the lunch period, friendships that will last a lifetime, and the knowledge that you contributed to the sectors most respected and successful professional development opportunity for water professionals.
What else do I need to know before I sign up? To volunteer for Operations Challenge you need be registered for WEFTEC. You can register for any registration category. If you are not attending the Technical Program, you can register for Expo Only, which starts at $110 for WEF Members if you register prior to July 14. WEFTEC Registration information can be found at
How do I sign up? Opportunities are listed by event. Please click the event to see volunteer roles and time commitments.

Collections  Laboratory Safety Vaughan Maintenance

If you have any additional questions, please email

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.

Registration 2023

The Registration Portal for Operations Challenge 2023 will open July 18 and close on September 8, no late registrations will be accepted.

Download the Registration Form

Registration Form

Once complete, please email a copy of your registration to no later than September 4, 2023. Forms can be submitted and payment can be made online with a credit card or via check as early as June 14, 2023. 

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 2023
Water Environment Federation
601 Wythe St
Alexandria, VA 22314

The cost to compete in Operations Challenge 2023 is $1100 per team.

Once we have received payment, your Team Contact will receive instructions on how to register each team member. The email with instuctions will come from WEFTEC Customer Service,

Please note that all Operations Challenge participants and volunteers must adhere to the Operations Challenge Code of Conduct, the WEF Member Code of Conduct, and the WEFTEC Code of Conduct



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 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 and 2022 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