Council - Operators/Maintenance Council Top Ops
Share |

Top Ops tests operator knowledge

In Top Ops, teams of utility operators show their knowledge in quiz-bowl format, answering questions about distribution, maintenance, laboratory, basic science, water treatment processes, and safety.

Many of AWWA’s Sections hold Top Ops competitions throughout the year with winners earning the chance to compete at the Association’s annual conference in June. 

Last year, 18 Top Ops teams competed at ACE17 in Philadelphia. The Water Buoys took first, followed by tough rivals Birmingham Prime Movers in second, Fort Worth Panthers, third, and City of Alcoa, Ky., fourth. This year, the competition will be held June 13 and 14 during ACE18 in Las Vegas.

The Water Buoys have won seven championships in the past dozen years, while the Prime Movers, pictured at right, nailed three. WSSC from the Chesapeake Section and the Schmutzdeckers of Salem, Ore. placed first one year each. Other top contenders have included the Smooth Operators from the Cal/Nevada Section, Tacoma Water, and Patuxent from Laurel, Md., to name just a few.

New teams also compete at the national level every year.

At ACE, the four teams with the highest preliminary round scores advance to the two semi-final rounds. The winning team in each semi-final round competes for the AWWA Top Ops Competition Championship title.

Teams of one, two, or three operators are quizzed from a secure bank of more than 2,000 questions – all taken from among two dozen AWWA publications and vetted by the American Board of Certifications. While the questions are top secret, examples of those typically asked include: What metal makes the best anode? What is the pressure, in pounds per square inch, at the bottom of a tank if the water level is at 38.29?

Each question is worth two points, except for math questions which are worth three. Teams use whiteboards, which have a writable, erasable side, and a side that says “No Response”. They have 25 seconds to answer each question. 

A correct answer wins points, while an incorrect response loses a point. A “No Response” neither earns nor loses points. A panel of judges, selected from water professionals involved in AWWA Sections, has the final say on whether an answer is correct. 

Understandably, the atmosphere is tense.

Champions receive a team trophy, individual trophies, a free trip to ACE to compete the following year, and listing in the Top Ops Hall of Fame on the AWWA website. The team also receives a traveling trophy that they return the following year, after engraving their name, Section, and winning year. 

Second, third, and fourth place teams also receive team and individual trophies.

For more information, contact Top Ops Chair:
Thomas Tackman
Water Talent
P: (239) 560-4149

The Palm Coast Water Buoys are repeat Top Ops Champions at ACE17!

Top Ops is the "college bowl" of the water industry. Teams of one, two or three water operators or lab personnel from the FSAWWA regions compete against each other in a fast-paced question-and-answer tournament at the FWRC. A moderator poses a broad range of technical questions and math problems, and the team scoring the most points in the championship round is awarded the Florida Section AWWA Top Ops Championship. 

The Top Ops Champions representing the Florida Section will earn a trip to ACE16 in Chicago. Every year, the teams from the other AWWA sections gather at the Annual Conference & Exposition (ACE) to compete.

Since 2005, the Palm Coast Water Buoys have consistently been in the AWWA Top Ops Hall of Fame.


Champions at ACE16 in Chicago



Return to Operators/Maintenance Council homepage