Apollo teachers tour Lima wastewater plant

LIMA — A special tour Tuesday of the Lima Wastewater Treatment Plant showcased an oft-overlooked career.

Teachers from Apollo Career Center learned about the benefits of a career in water utilities during a private tour of the wastewater treatment facility.

A college degree is not required for an entry-level operator or maintenance job at the wastewater treatment plant, according to plant manager Kim Furry, who said operators often can study and earn their license on the job.

Opportunities are available to engineering and biology graduates too.

“It’s a career path that most educators are not aware of,” Furry said. “It’s important to highlight those (jobs) because it’s a good, steady job.”

Furry, who studied biology, stumbled into the job herself when she decided not to attend medical school.

She now oversees the Lima treatment plant, a mid-sized treatment plant which treats an average 13 million gallons of wastewater per day, peaking at 70 million gallons per day on a rainy day.

Recruiting operators, lab technicians and other utility workers is so competitive today that some municipalities offer four weeks of vacation time up front, Furry said.

“It used to be that the idea of working for municipality and having steady employment and the Ohio Public Employment Retirement System was enough to entice people to come into the field and stay local,” Furry said. “That hasn’t been the case as of late.”

Furry invited Lima’s human resource director to read all the benefits a city worker is entitled to, like low health insurance deductibles, hoping the information remains with teachers as they discuss career opportunities with students in the future.