White House Utility District celebrates Grade IV Operator Certification

White House Utility District celebrates Grade IV Operator Certification

White House Utility District (WHUD), the state’s largest geographic water and wastewater provider, is proud to announce that Luke Kemp, one of WHUD’s 10 water plant operators, has earned his Grade IV Operator license. Having joined WHUD in November of 2016, Kemp is the newest member of the 10-person team and his Grade IV licensure means all 10 now have this highest level of certification.

“Luke is a great addition to our team, and we are so proud of him for this accomplishment,” said Chris MacPhee, plant manager. “In just 2 ½ years, he has earned Grade III certification and now Grade IV certification. These are no small feats. Each level requires months and months of rigorous coursework and outside studies, on top of managing a 12-hour shift. His determination and work ethic are second to none, and we are fortunate to have him operating our water treatment plant.”

Kemp, who joined WHUD in November 2016, earned his Grade III licensure the following November. Six months later, he started working toward a Grade IV Operator license. To even sit for this exam, an operator must have five years of experience or have completed an equitable amount of coursework. With just two and a half years of experience, Kemp qualified to sit for the exam by taking extra classes throughout the year.

“Our leaders really value education and professional development,” said Kemp, who passed both his Grade III and Grade IV test in his first try, “and not just for our own personal growth, but so we have the knowledge and tools we need to better serve our customers. Through this program, we are exposed to many potential challenges and situations, which really forces you to think on your toes. It has already made me a strong operator.”

More than just a personal success, Kemp’s Grade IV licensure means that every one of WHUD’s water plant operators has earned this highest level of certification, a testament to the District’s commitment to delivering high quality, safe and reliable water. It also underscores WHUD’s commitment to providing employees access to the professional development, training and resources they need to grow and succeed.

“One of the greatest ways we can serve our customers is to ensure our employees have the training and resources they need to do their jobs well,” said Bill Thompson, WHUD general manager. “We are very proud of Luke and all of our water treatment plant operators. They devote a significant amount of time and energy into operating our plant, through daily work and ongoing education, which emphasizes their personal commitment to the safety and integrity of our system.”

Per Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), each person in direct charge of a water treatment plant must have licensure of the same grade or higher as the plant. This means that in a two-person team, like WHUD uses to operate the plant, only one is required to hold a Grade IV licensure. Operators are eligible to enroll in courses twice a year through TDEC’s Fleming Training Center. Upon completion of the coursework, they take a four-hour, timed test that is known throughout the industry for its level of difficulty – it often takes students more than one try to pass.

Earning a grade specific certification qualifies an individual to operate a system equal to or below the specific grade level of certification; i.e., Grade IV operators can operate a Grade I, II, III, or IV water treatment system. Facilities and systems are graded by size and complexity. WHUD has a Grade IV water treatment plant, as well as a Grade II water distribution system, a Grade II wastewater collection system, and a Grade I wastewater treatment plant.

Kemp joins 34 others within WHUD who have previously earned a grade specific certification in water distribution system, water treatment plant, wastewater collections system or wastewater treatment.