Water utilities: Addressing the shortage of qualified personnel

Texas 2036 Senior Policy Advisor Jeremy Mazur offered testimony Tuesday in favor of legislation to address a shortage of qualified personnel at water utilities across Texas. Here’s his testimony regarding House Bill 1845 to the Texas House Natural Resources Committee:

Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, my name is Jeremy Mazur, and I am a Senior Policy Advisor for Texas 2036. I am here today to testify in support of House Bill 1845.

I have two reasons to share why this is a good bill that merits this committee’s support.

First, water utilities across Texas are facing a shortage of qualified personnel to operate their systems. This is principally due to retirements, turnover, and a competitive labor market.  

These personnel are essential to the continued operation of water and wastewater infrastructure and compliance with state and federal health, safety, and environmental protection requirements.  

In addition, the success of any state investments in water infrastructure ultimately hinge on the availability of qualified personnel to operate those systems.  

HB 1845 takes a meaningful step towards fixing this problem by establishing a provisional certification program for Class D wastewater operators.

My second point is as follows: this provisional certification program would establish a pathway for Texans without a high school diploma — or those who are still in high school — to gain entry into our water workforce. 

The pathway is a work-based learning opportunity where the individual is exposed to workplace culture and learns skills directly from practitioners. 

Moreover, the pathway is aligned with the state’s official workforce development strategy of expanding opportunities for work-based learning experiences.

In light of these two benefits offered by HB 1845, I believe that this bill has merit, and warrants the committee’s support.

Thank you for your time, and I welcome any questions that you may have.

Texas 2036 Policy Advisor Renzo Soto contributed to this testimony.  

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