Lead Operator

  • Type: Contract To Hire
  • Job #943

Operational Technical Services (OTS) is one of the fastest growing private water and wastewater utility staffing providers in the country. We provide certified water treatment, distribution, wastewater treatment, collections, engineering, laboratory, water quality, maintenance, and training professionals to municipalities, special districts, and private utilities throughout the country. OTS offers temporary, temp to hire, direct hire and emergency on-call opportunities including great benefits.

Job Title: Lead Operator

Location: San Diego County, CA 

Pay Rate: $44.77 – $54.42


Leads, trains, oversees and participates in complex work assignments, provides technical and specialized assistance to the Water Treatment Plant Manager. Under general supervision, operates equipment, facilities, and related appurtenances involved in the monitoring, operation, maintenance, and regulation of a conventional water treatment plant using coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, filtration, and disinfection; performs routine water quality laboratory analysis and adjusts chemicals to comply with federal, state, and local laws and regulations; to operate and maintain plant equipment including pumps, motors, valves, chemical feed systems, and filters to maintain adequate production and reserves; assists with preventive maintenance and makes repairs to plant facilities and equipment; monitors water distribution system infrastructure, wastewater lift stations, potable/reclaimed pumping and storage systems, reports deficiencies and performs related work as required.


Management reserves the right to add, modify, change or rescind the work assignments of different positions and to make reasonable accommodations so that qualified employees can perform the essential functions of the job. 

  • Provides technical and functional supervision to assigned water treatment plant staff, reviews and controls quality of works, reviews and control quality of water quality sampling, equipment calibration and water quality data entry. 

  • Provides input for employee evaluations as requested by the Water Treatment Plant Manager or assigned supervisor. 

  • Participates in performing routine to complex water treatment plant maintenance and repair work, assists with administrative duties as it relates to regulatory compliance or assigned projects. 

  • Assists with the supervision of vendors and contractors performing projects and providing services at the water treatment plant. 

  • Operates the water treatment facility and distribution system using electronic and computer control systems called Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and revises equipment settings as appropriate; interprets gauges, meters, charts, and graphs; operates pumps, valves, motors, and related equipment; inspects plant equipment; notifies supervisor of unusual situations and makes inspections or corrects system problems as necessary. 

  • Monitors the distribution system via SCADA to maintain adequate reservoir levels, meet system demands, ensure adequate fire protection, and address distribution water quality concerns, while complying with all federal, state and local regulations. 

  • Monitors water treatment plant operations, equipment and processes to ensure safe and acceptable drinking water is being produced in compliance with all federal, state and local regulations. 

  • Optimizes the treatment process efficiencies, properly responds to alarms and satisfies the distribution system demands; advises system technicians and mechanics of potential problems and alarms; coordinates activities with system technicians and mechanics. 

  • Performs preventive and corrective maintenance to the water treatment plant equipment, such as electric motors, engines, gas and electric powered pumps, air compressors, emergency systems, power generation systems, chillers, pressure and flow regulators, analyzers, filters, chemical feed systems, digesters, bar screens, and  blowers; reports the need for repairs to equipment, machinery, and electrical and electronic systems. 

  • Makes minor repairs to equipment and assists Utility Systems staff with major repair work as needed. 

  • Performs routine maintenance and painting of machinery, structures, equipment, and piping systems; performs routine landscaping to the water treatment plant facility and dam infrastructure. 

  • Performs inspections of water storage tanks and reports concerns to the Water Treatment Plant Manager, or Assistant Director of Public Works for Utilities in their absence. 

  • Performs chemical calculations and volumetric checks to determine and ensure proper dosage of chemicals. 

  • Uses chemicals properly and handles them safely according to industry standards. 

  • Performs analysis for parameters such as chlorine, turbidity, pH and odor. 

  • Performs field water quality monitoring at sample sites and reservoirs. 

  • Boosts residual as needed in distribution reservoirs to maintain water quality. 

  • Determines chemical, laboratory reagent and other product usage in the water  treatment plant and places orders for these products. 

  • Calibrates and/or repairs online and bench water analyzing instrumentation to ensure proper operation. 

  • Submits work requests for repairs to water treatment and distribution system equipment; completes requests for repairs to sewer, street, drainage, and parks infrastructure during after-hours dispatch duty. 

  • Assists in determining chemicals, laboratory reagents, and equipment needed for budget purposes. 

  • Inspects and repairs water treatment filters; analyzes and measures filter media to determine compliance with design specifications; replaces and/or adds as needed. Monitors phone and radio systems and responds or dispatches appropriate personnel to resolve water, sewer, street, or drainage problems throughout the City after normal business hours and weekends. 

  • Performs periodic water quality and visual inspections of Lake and reports any cases of non-native plant species and mussels. 

  • Maintains accurate records of gauge reading, level sensors data, flow meter values, chemical usage, and lab results to be utilized in compiling comprehensive and accurate reports. 

  • Participates in safety training and exercises; implements safe working habits based on safety training and through the proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). 

  • Provides needed information and demonstrations concerning how to perform certain work tasks to new employees in the same or similar class of positions. Responds to after-hours emergencies. 

  • Maintains attendance and punctuality that is observant of scheduled hours on a regular basis. 

  • May prepare and submit the operator work schedule as assigned by the Water Treatment Plant Manager. 

  • May act as the Water Treatment Plant Manager in their absence and supervise, plan, and coordinate the maintenance and operations of the water treatment plant, water storage reservoirs, lake limnology, pump stations and lift stations. 

  • Ensures the plant meets or exceeds all federal, state and local regulations and directives. 

  • Maintains positive and professional relationships with staff at all levels across the organization, as well as with those contacted in the course of work. 

  • Performs related duties as assigned.




Knowledge of: 

  • Basic principles of supervision, training and project oversight. 

  • The operation and preventive maintenance of piping systems, including pipes, valves, and related appurtenances.  

  • Basic equipment troubleshooting principles and practices. 

  • Basic recordkeeping practices. 

  • Basic mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic principles. 

  • Basic mathematics. 

  • Safe work methods and safety practices pertaining to the work, including the handling and storage of hazardous chemicals. 

  • Basic computer software and programs related to work. 

  • English usage, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation. 

  • Techniques for providing a high level of customer service by effectively dealing with the public, vendors, contractors, and staff. 

  • Principles, practices, equipment, material, and tools used in the operation, cleaning, and preventive maintenance of water treatment facilities and equipment. 

  • Standard chemical and physical tests of water and related materials. Basic principles of biology, chemistry, bacteriology, and mathematics. Basic principles of hydraulics and plumbing. 

  • Applicable federal, state, and local laws, ordinances, regulations, and guidelines relevant to assigned duties. 

  • Water-related mathematics.


Ability to: 

  • Operate the water treatment plant and distribution system. 

  • Plan, schedule, assign, and oversee activities of water treatment plant staff. 

  • Train others in proper and safe work procedures. 

  • Inspect the work of others and maintain established quality control standards. Identify and implement effective course of action to complete assigned work. 

  • Recognize and correct or report unusual, inefficient, or dangerous operating conditions. 

  • Read a variety of gauges, charts, and meters, record data accurately and make appropriate process adjustments. 

  • Use and maintain the tools and equipment of the work skillfully and safely. 

  • Make accurate arithmetic calculations. 

  • Safely and effectively use and operate hand tools, mechanical equipment, power tools, and equipment required for the work. 

  • Perform routine equipment maintenance. 

  • Maintain manual and automated logs, records, reports, and charts. Follow department policies and procedures related to assigned duties. Understand and follow oral and written instructions. 

  • Use English effectively to communicate in person, over the telephone, and in writing. Establish, maintain, and foster positive and harmonious working relationships with those contacted in the course of work. 

  • Operate, maintain, and repair a variety of water treatment facilities and equipment. Accurately interpret and read flow diagrams, supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA), telemetry equipment, flow charts, and indicating meters. 

  • Conduct standard chemical and physical tests of water, wastewater, sludge, and related materials. 

  • Handle hazardous chemicals in a safe manner. 

  • Exercise good judgment, flexibility, creativity, and sensitivity in response to changing situations and needs. 

  • Organize own work, set priorities, and meet critical time deadlines. 

  • Use tact, initiative, prudence, and independent judgment within general policy, procedural, and legal guidelines





  • Five years of experience equivalent to Water Treatment Plant Operator III in the operation of a potable water treatment plant as a journeyman, lead or supervisor


  • Equivalent to the completion of the 12th grade supplemented by specialized training in water treatment operations. Additional college level coursework in wastewater treatment and collections, water distribution, chemistry, biology, or a related field is desirable. Education and training required to obtain appropriate certifications through the State Water Resources Control Board as outlined below. Associates Degree (60 college units) in Water Technology is highly desirable.

Licenses and Certifications: 

  • Valid California class C driver's license with satisfactory driving record. 

  • Possess and maintain valid CPR and First Aid Certificates. 

  • Possess and maintain a valid Grade 5 Water Treatment Plant Operator Certificate (T5) issued by the State Water Resources Control Board 

  • Possess and maintain a Grade 2 Water Distribution Operator Certificate (D2) issued by the State Water Resources Control Board. 

  • Possess and maintain valid SCBA/Fitness Testing, Asbestos Handling, Confined Space, Fork Lift Certificates.


Must possess mobility to work in a standard water treatment plant and related facilities; strength, stamina, and mobility to perform light to medium physical work, to work in confined spaces, around machines and to climb and descend ladders, and operate varied hand and power tools and equipment; vision to read printed materials and a computer screen; color vision to read gauges and identify appurtenances; and hearing and speech to communicate in person and over the telephone or radio. The job involves frequent walking in operational areas to identify problems or hazards. Finger dexterity is needed to access, enter, and retrieve data using a computer keyboard or calculator and to operate above-mentioned tools and equipment. Positions in this classification bend, stoop, kneel, reach, and climb to perform work and inspect work sites. Employees must possess the ability to lift, carry, push, and pull materials and objects weighing up to 100 pounds, or heavier weights with assistance and/or with the use of proper equipment.


Environmental Elements 


Employees work inside a water treatment plant and in the field and are exposed to loud noise levels, cold and hot temperatures, inclement weather conditions, road hazards, vibration, confining workspace, chemicals, mechanical and/or electrical hazards, and hazardous physical substances and fumes. Employees may interact with upset staff and/or public and private representatives and contractors in interpreting and enforcing departmental policies and procedures.


Operational Technical Services, (OTS), is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, colors, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status.

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