Castlegar city staff propel peer-to-peer training program

Castlegar's water utility manager, Jesse Reel, and other city staff are propelling peer-to-peer training for water utility operators.

Castlegar’s water utility manager has been gaining recognition in the world of BC water conservation recently.

The Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC and Columbia Basin Water Smart have both acknowledged Jesse Reel’s role in a peer-to-peer training program from water utility operators in articles on their websites.

But Reel isn’t prepared to take too much credit for the program, giving most of the credit for its success to Joe McGowan, public works manager for the City of Cranbrook.

The peer-to-peer program started in winter 2013 and allows water utility operators to deliver and receive training in their communities without the cost of attending costly courses that are usually offered in the Okanagan or the Lower Mainland.

“What we’ve identified is that budgetary restraints make it hard to get training to everybody. There’s a lot of knowledge right here in the West Kootenays, and we need to access that knowledge and have operators train other operators,” said Reel. “This is about us partnering up with other people. The City of Castlegar, we have a lot of skill, we have a lot of technicians in house here. We can get out and we can help smaller communities like the Village of Montrose, the Village of Nakusp, or say Genelle.”

Reel himself recently did peer-to-peer training at the Glade Irrigation District.

“They had some really smart guys. They had some guys with some high mechanical aptitude, [but] they’ve never worked on a water system, they didn’t know the ins and out of it,” he said. “They had some components failing and they didn’t know what to do about it. They didn’t know how to tackle the problem.”

Reel conducted a three-hour training period in Glade on how to properly take apart a control valve and how to put it back together and set it up.

“That got some momentum going in that water system. They had someone to turn to now who could offer them a bit of advice,” said Reel. “[That] spurred some momentum out there and they did more maintenance on their water system in 18 months than they’d done in 20 years.”

The Columbia Basin Trust currently supports the peer-to-peer program, and now in its second year the program has started receiving support from the Environmental Operators Certification Program (EOCP) who want to make peer-to-peer training a recognized training event where operators will gain continuing education units (CEUs). A win for municipalities, since certified water utility operators are required to earn 2.4 CEUs every two years.

The EOCP began developing a website earlier this spring for certifying in-house peer-to-peer trainers, which an operator from Castlegar volunteered to help test.

“Could he actually get on there, register himself as a trainer, submit his course in a relatively easy enough fashion that’s not going to scare him away, and administer the training and get the CEUs for him and the guy he trained?” said Reel. “So Bill McMillan was our guinea pig in house and he struggled a lot with their website, and they’ve made a lot of changes to their website to make this easier.”

Hopefully by next year every operator will have access to the website.

The peer-to-peer program is still considered a pilot program, and Reel said it’s mostly being done of the corners of everyone’s desk.

“We’re doing this for the love of our jobs, and me and Bill…, we believe this is a very valuable exercise. These senior guys have a lot of knowledge. They have tricks of the trade that you can’t learn in a classroom, you can’t even learn in a text book, you have to learn hands on.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An image from Castlegar city council on Zoom.
Castlegar council decides to keep meeting online

City council meetings will remain online at least until January

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

The portion of highway is down to single-lane alternating traffic. Photo: Connor Trembley
Commercial trailer catches fire near Castlegar

Traffic was delayed along Hwy 3

Numbers indicate positive COVID-19 tests, January through September. Map: BC Centre for Disease Control
Twenty-five cases of COVID-19 reported in Nelson, Castlegar and Trail in 2020

New data from the BC Centre for Disease Control shows numbers of cases per community

Castlegar Search and Rescue members practicing their skills at the Kinnaird Bluffs. Photo: submitted
Why search and rescue is a free, non-judgmental service in B.C.

Castlegar Search and Rescue talks about why they do what they do

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson leaves the stage after announcing he is stepping down as party leader, during a news conference in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Too rural, not enough diversity, soul searching needed, say BC Liberals

Elections BC says there are about 600,000 mail-in and absentee ballots across the province still to count

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to provide an update on the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Canada has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first was reported

An elderly woman wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past an advertisement for a television series in Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. has been under a COVID-19 state of emergency for more than half the year

Province has been under a state of emergency for 32 weeks – and counting

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

Most Read