Valuing daily professional operations and maintenance skills within water utilities

For the first time ever, a skills competition for water utility operators will feature as part of the IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition. In IWA’s inaugural Operations Challenge, we are expecting 9 international teams to compete across three skills. Running over one full day, the challenge will be held in the exhibition area at the Bella Center.

The Operations Challenge is inspired by a model developed by WEFTEC and made possible in collaboration with DANVA, WEF, Aarhus Vand, The Danish Society for Wastewater Technology, and our valued sponsors – Grundfos, Wavin, Carl Stahl and Tractel.

Teams consisting of three individuals will compete in three typical water sector skills to earn the highest score in each competition. Winners in each skills category and an overall winner will be awarded as part of the competition. The goal is to highlight the importance of daily professional operations and maintenance skills in water utilities. The competition will take place on 14 September 2022, with the option to participate in a one-day training the day before.

Key Skills Areas

The Challenge will focus on three key skills areas:

-Maintenance: This area will test the response to problems at a pump station. The team must inspect and check the condition of the shaft seal in one of the pumps in the pumping station. Furthermore, inspect guide rail holders and guide rails for sufficient maintenance and operations. Finally, refit inspected pump back in the pumping station. The Maintenance skill is sponsored by Grundfos.

-Collection Systems: A task simulating work in the sewer system. There is a leak on an 8-inch PVC sewer pipe. In this task, the team must repair the pipe and a new consumer must be connected to a 4-inch PVC pipe. The Collection systems skill is sponsored by Wavin.

-Safety: This task will involve rescuing an unconscious co-worker from inside a manhole who has been affected by an unknown gas or lack of oxygen due to a worn valve gasket in the station. The team must rescue the co-worker, repair the valve, and safely put the line back into service. The Safety skill is sponsored by Carl Stahl and Tractel.

Alongside these skills, the teams compete in a side competition on team spirit and collaboration.

Watch Video Tutorials

Watch the tutorial videos of the Operations Challenge on Maintenance and Collection Systems:

Get Involved

Anders Bækgaard, Congress President

If your utility is interested in competing in the Operations Challenge, please contact Congress President Anders Bækgaard at

Location Guide

-Exhibition Area, Bella Center.

Organised and sponsored by: