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SIUE Students Build Advanced Water Treatment System

ERTC biodiscs

Students in the water treatment technology program at the Environmental Resources Training Center of the School of Engineering recently installed an advanced wastewater treatment process at their training center.

Under the guidance of their instructors Rick Lallish and Kurt Neuhaus, the students converted a 35-year old obsolete treatment system into an advanced Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR), also referred to as an MBBR.

An MBBR uses hundreds of one-inch diameter bio-discs (that look like a plastic version of Honeycomb cereal) to be the medium for the growth of a biological film layer. “The discs act like little apartment buildings where bacteria and other micro-organisms can live.” said ERTC Director Paul Shetley. “Professionals in the water industry refer to the micro-organisms that help clean the wastewater as bugs.”

According to Shetley, once the bugs move into their little homes, they begin eating the organic matter and cleaning up the water. The bio-discs are circulated throughout the water column using air bubbles pumped into the bottom of the tank. As the air bubbles rise, they provide oxygen for the bugs and, at the same time, the bubbles cause the water and the bio-discs to circulate.

The students who worked on the installation of the MBBR are in the one-year Water Quality Control Operations Program at ERTC. Their hands-on training consists of the operation of the training-scale treatment plant housed at the Center. ERTC provides the students with the opportunity to operate five separate water treatment processes while attending the one-year program. There are three drinking water plants: a surface water, a groundwater and a membrane filter plant along with two wastewater treatment systems: an activated sludge plant and the MBBR. The Center also houses two water quality teaching laboratories.

The Training Center offers a one-year certificate of completion in the Water Quality Control Operations Program. In conjunction with Lewis and Clark Community College, students may also earn an associate’s in applied science. Graduates from ERTC are eligible to take the state exams to become certified water treatment operators in Illinois and Missouri.

“Our graduates have the opportunity to hold five professional certifications in water treatment,” said Shetley. “There is no other training center in the nation that provides that opportunity.”

SIUE’s Lallish Elected to IAWPCO Executive Board

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Ricky Lallish, program director of Water Pollution Control at the Environmental Resources Training Center (ERTC) in the School of Engineering, has been elected to serve as third vice president for the Illinois Association of Water Pollution Control Operators (IAWPCO).

Lallish joins an 11-member board that includes the association president, three vice presidents and chairmen from the four regions of the state. As a new board member, Lallish began his duties earlier in April.

Lallish joined SIUE in August 2008 after serving as lead operator for the City of Greenville. He holds both a class one wastewater and collections systems operator certification from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. He has more than 20 years of experience in the water pollution control field and is highly active in local, state and international organizations.

IAWPCO’s goal is the advancement of the wastewater operator’s status in the public eye and to promote recognition for the services they provide as the major component in preventing water pollution and improving community health and welfare. The organization is also involved in the study and promotion of the improvement in the quality of the waterways of Illinois.


SIUE School of Engineering’s ERTC Wins Governor’s Sustainability Award

The Environmental Resources Training Center at SIUE was among the twenty-four Illinois institutions, organization and companies honored at a ceremony in Chicago on October 23, 2014. The Training Center received the Governor’s Sustainability Award for its significant achievements in protecting the environment, helping sustain the future and improving the State’s economy. The award is presented annually by the Illinois Sustainability Technology Center (ISTC), a unit of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois. ERTC’s Director Paul Shetley and Operations Director Kim Bateman were present to receive the award.

ERTC received the award for its 40-year commitment to the sustainability and protection of the waters in Illinois. The Center was designed and built for the sole purpose of training drinking water supply and wastewater reclamation plant operators.

“The treatment plant operator is an integral part of the water use cycle in the U.S.,” said Shetley. “The water operator supplies clean reliable water to households throughout the nation. The wastewater plant operator discharges clean, sanitary waters back into the nation’s waterways. By virtually eliminating water borne pathogens, these operators save more lives than medical doctors.”

ERTC is one of the most unique training centers in the nation. The instructors use its 30,000 gallon-per-day training-scale drinking water and wastewater treatment plant to teach students the skills needed to properly operate a plant. An example of the training impact that ERTC has on the water profession can be measured in the statistics from FY2013 when it trained over 975 students and awarded over 25,000 continuing education and contact hours.

ERTC Governor's Award

Louisiana Engineers Study SIUE’s ERTC as Potential Model

A delegation from Louisiana visited the SIUE Environmental Resources Training Center (ERTC) recently in hopes of duplicating the unique Center’s successes in Baton Rouge.

“It’s hard to find places that train people in this field, which is surprising as everybody needs waste water and water treatment,” said David R. Gullory, public works director for the Department of Public Works for the City of Baton Rouge and the Parish of East Baton Rouge.

Paul Shetley, ERTC director, led the tour and explained the purposes and functions of the Center to the Louisiana contingent.

The Center does two things, according to Shetley. The first is to offer a one-year program for students, who work eight hours a day, four days per week and learn everything about drinking water, treatment and waste water operations. Secondly, the ERTC trains those people who are already in the field and provides them with continuing education to keep abreast of new technology.

The ERTC building was constructed in 1978 and will graduate its 32nd class in July 2014. The training center is equipped to enroll 25-30 students a year.

“I’m really interested in the hands on aspect of it, and how much the students learn” said Joshua R. Crowe, program manager at CH2M Hill in Baton Rouge. “I also like how ERTC has worked with the community and formed partnerships. It’s really progressive. I don’t know of any other place like this. Hopefully, we’ll have a center like this one day.”


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