CHICAGO—If you heard cheering while exploring the WEFTEC exhibition, chances are high that it came from Operations Challenge—widely considered the water sector’s most exciting professional development program. The 36th annual competition, which took place on Monday and Tuesday, once again pitted the world’s top water treatment talents against each other in a series of pulse-pounding, time-bound trials. Each four-person team represented a WEF Member Association or comparable operator organization and competed in one of three divisions based on their level of competition experience.

Teams earned an overall score based on their weighted performance in five classic Operations Challenge events, each testing a different aspect of work in the wastewater profession:

  • Process Control,
  • Laboratory,
  • Safety,
  • Collection Systems, and
  • Vaughan (Montesano, Washington) Maintenance.

At an awards ceremony on Tuesday night, Operations Challenge officials announced this year’s winners.

Division I Winners

  • First Place – Controlled Chaos (Water Environment Association of South Carolina)
  • Second Place – Centrifugal Force (Water Environment Association of Texas)
  • Third Place – Elevated Ops (Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association)

Division II Winners

  • First Place – Sludgehammers (Water Environment Association of Ontario)
  • Second Place – Double Duty (Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association)
  • Third Place – Rising Sludge (New England Water Environment Association)

Division III Winners

  • First Place – Poopa Troopa (Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association)
  • Second Place – Second City Sewer Crew (Illinois Water Environment Association)
  • Third Place – Highland Creek Rabble Rousers (Water Environment Association of Ontario)

Spirit Award Winners

  • Best Uniform – Bio-Wizards (Florida Water Environment Association)
  • Best Hard Hat – Turdologists (Arizona Water Association)
  • Best Team Photo – Water Bears (New York Water Environment Association)
  • Team Congeniality – Tennessee Thunder (Clean Water Professionals of Kentucky-Tennessee)
  • Best Fan Support – Special Forces (ACODAL Colombia)
  • Best Effort – Severn-Trent Academy (Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management)
  • Favorite Volunteer – Reggie Morgan
  • Least Penalties – The Technicians (Chesapeake Water Environment Association)—90 seconds across four events