Water superintendents are responsible for managing the process of delivering water to a municipality’s treatment plant from wells, lakes, rivers, and other water supplies. In some municipalities, they also manage the sewer and waste water systems to ensure that water can safely return to natural supplies by being pumped into water bodies via runoff or irrigation systems for farming. Depending on the size of the city, the superintendent may direct either a small or large group of staff.
Water superintendents generally oversee the function of their city’s water system and the workers involved. They must prepare reports for informing the public, as well as ensure that the system they oversee meets all local, state, and federal quality standards. In more public settings, water superintendents serve as the face of their department, especially in meetings. In addition to setting the budget for the water department, they are also responsible for ensuring that inspections, repairs, and maintenance are conducted efficiently and in a timely manner.
As the head of the department and its public face, strong communication skills are important for any water superintendent to make clear all job assignments to department workers in a concise manner, as well as convey the functions of the department to the public and political officials. Strong math skills are a must for budgeting, maintaining proper water flow amounts, and developing treatment processes. While in most situations a water superintendent works from an office, some also work in the field to operate equipment or perform other necessary physical duties.
Although some cities may not require formal college education, many superintendents have education in managing wastewater and water systems, and must be able to acquire the necessary credentials to operate a water system and ensure that it meets all regulatory standards. Cities which require more than long-term, on-the-job experience may require a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, civil engineering, business management, or a related field, as well as relevant prior experience, for the position.
Water Superintendent Tasks
Prepare and administer the department budget, report income and operating costs, and monitor project spending.
Manage and supervise water department staff, including hiring, training, scheduling, leading meetings, and assigning activities.
Compile and publish reports on water and wastewater facilities, operations, compliance with government standards, etc.
Oversee the operation and maintenance of a city water system, direct routine projects, and respond to emergencies.
Represent the water department at meetings with city or government officials and the public.