WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE AN EFFECTIVE PROGRAM MANAGER?

by Les O'Brien, CET
University of Florida, TREEO Center

Last summer, while conducting an ordinance writing course, I asked each person to stand if they were responsible for a cross-connection control program. About half of the thirty plus people stood up. I then asked each person, what percentage of your time is actually involved with supervising your program? A few individuals indicated that running their program took one hundred and ten percent of their time. There was a regulatory official from the state in the classroom and we were both shocked to hear that most individuals claimed that only ten to twenty-five percent of their time was devoted to their cross-connection control programs. My experience has been much different.

In 1982, I was asked to take on the responsibility of a cross-connection control supervisor for the local utility company. Being naive and knowing that a small promotion plus a new pickup truck were part of the deal, I said yes. I had worked in government most of my life so I was not prepared for the enormous amount of work involved with managing a cross-connection control program.

Decisions I had to make at that time are the same ones an effective program manager will have to make today:

  1. Who will INSTALL backflow prevention assemblies?

  2. Who will TEST backflow prevention assemblies (utility personnel, private contractors, or both)?

  3. Who will REPAIR backflow prevention assemblies?

  4. Must testers be CERTIFIED?

  5. What TYPE OF PROTECTION will be required for health vs. non-health hazards?

  6. Which TYPE OF BACKFLOW PREVENTION ASSEMBLY will be used at each hazard location?

  7. What RECORDS will be kept on each backflow preventer?

  8. What SPECIFICATIONS and STANDARDS will be used to delineate an "approved" assembly?

  9. How will TRAINING be provided to employees and customers?

  10. Which employees will receive training?

  11. What timetable will be established for completing the survey and retrofit program?

  12. How will the SURVEY and RETROFIT PROGRAM will be conducted?(1)

If your city is small (less than one thousand metered customers) it is conceivable that you, as the cross-connection control supervisor, also serve as the public works director and you may share the same office with the police chief.

If you work in a larger city you should be too busy running the cross-connection control program to take on any additional duties. To do your job effectively you will be a very busy person and you will need some help. If your system is large enough (50,000 metered customers or more), you should be able to justify a administrative clerk, an inspector, and a couple of backflow technicians.

Lets take a closer look at some of the items you will be responsible for:

(1)Backflow Prevention, Theory and Practice. 1990. Robin L. Ritland. University of Florida, TREEO Center. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.


Training for Program Managers is available through:

  1. The University of Florida's Center for Training, Research and Education for Environmental Occupations (UF/TREEO).

  2. The University of Southern California's Foundation for Cross-Connection Control and Hydraulic Research (FCCC & HR).


Prepared by Les O'Brien, CET
This article appeared in ABPA News, May/June 1994
11/27/2005
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