Say It With Video

A Utah engineer combines his profession and a hobby to produce education and training videos aimed at clean-water plant employees and tour groups
Say It With Video
A screen shot from the computer of Steve Myers shows video of his father, Leland, as well as a graphic screen from an education video Steve created about wastewater microbiology.

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When not studying for an environmental engineering degree at the University of Utah, Steve Myers spent much of his time working on videos, a hobby he picked up as a teenager.

Myers, now a biological systems product manager in the Salt Lake City office of the Ovivo water solutions company, got involved in filmmaking with his buddies and stayed with video production during college. It was then his father, Leland Myers, manager of the Central Davis Sewer District, based in Kaysville, Utah, recruited him to work on a series of training and education videos.

“I was just kind of dabbling in videos, and he found a use for them,” Steve Myers says. “And he paid for them.” That was in 2002, and Myers has made two or three videos a year for the district since then.


Covering the basics

Leland Myers, also an environmental engineer, had created one training video about grit filter operations for the district, north of Salt Lake City, but when Steve saw the short film, he said he could do better. Many of the early videos were designed to educate new employees and refresh existing employees on processes and tasks at the district. Topics covered everything from operating a mixer to changing a chlorine tank.

Leland wanted to develop a library of videos: “We wanted to put all of our processes and maintenance operations on our intranet.” As the collection grew, father and son discussed doing videos to explain the basic processes and purpose of wastewater treatment to employees and plant tour groups. The first of these covered the carbon cycle and explained a treatment plant’s role in cycling carbon back into the environment in usable forms.

The Central Davis board supported the expense of creating the videos with intent to make them available in the public domain. Leland and Steve agree the carbon cycle video was “cheesy,” and Steve no longer posts it at his website ( But more recent efforts like Wastewater Microbiology and Nitrogen Removal Basics, and some training videos, are available there and at the YouTube channel, stevenmyers71.


Keep it interesting

Steve is working on a new video on phosphorus and is considering redoing the carbon cycle video. Once father and son iron out the concept of a new video, “The hardest part is to come up with a good script,” says Steve. “Then it’s just a matter of crunching through all of the visuals that you want to put with the words.” One big challenge is making sure the narration keeps viewers’ attention. Although the subjects are serious, a little wry humor often creeps in.

Steve combines his videography with graphics and other visuals. In the carbon cycle video, he even used footage from the district’s sewer inspection cameras. Assembling a finished product is easier now that Steve has invested much of his pay from the district in high-quality digital editing software and digital video equipment.

Although much of the work focuses on treatment plant operations, some videos go afield. In one case, Leland needed to address a problem in a neighborhood where baby wipes were clogging a lift station. Steve created a video showing how serious sewage backups can occur when lift stations are shut down. The problem declined after DVDs were mailed to residents.

While Central Davis employees are the primary targets of the videos, they also reach a broader audience. Up to 2,000 students per year tour the wastewater treatment plant. They may view videos at the plant or ahead of time in their classrooms. The microbiology video, which explains the functions of bacteria in treatment, is a good fit with sixth grade science.


Sharing widely

The videos are also part of the package of digital material Leland shares with regulators. “We maintain our operations manual digitally, and we can update the index when we make changes or upgrades,” he says. “Now when the state says they want to see our operations manual and documentation, we just give them a CD with our manual and a group of DVDs that show our training and maintenance procedures.”

Steve has been invited to share his videos with college classes and has even had a graduate student seek permission to include his work as an addendum to a doctoral thesis. Steve still makes presentations to classes at the University of Utah each year.

Steve’s supervisors support his sideline and have even asked him to produce several marketing and training videos for Ovivo’s Carrousel activated sludge treatment systems. He sometimes shares videos with contractors and public officials he meets while making presentations for Ovivo. Educating potential customers about basic subjects makes it easier to explain his products’ features.

Steve has also presented his videos at conferences hosted by the Water Environment Association of Utah and shares them with other wastewater treatment professionals, including his brother, the third environmental engineer in the Myers family.


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