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Wastewater Operator Certification
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August 29, 2014

The Illinois Section AWWA would like to inform our membership about possible changes in the wastewater certification rules that could be implemented in the next 24 to 36 months.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is seeking input regarding these proposed changes through the Board of Certification. The model the Agency is using for what will be required is the current training requirements for Certified Public Water Operators.

To summarize the changes;

  • Certified Wastewater Operators will need to receive training and submit the documentation in 3 year cycles.
  • Individual Operator’s cycles will be staggered so that one third of the Operators will need to submit the documentation every year.
  • The proposed Continuing Education Requirement (CEU) is 15 hours every three years for Class 3 and 4 Operators, and 30 hours every three years for Class 1 and 2.
  • The types of training and structure currently accepted for Water Operators is outlined below. The Wastewater regulations would look similar.

Currently Water Operators also pay a fee every three years of $10. (This is only if the Water renewal is sent in on time, otherwise they also are charged a late renewal fee.) The proposed Wastewater fees will be $30.00 for Exam Application Review; $30.00 for 3-year Renewal Application; $10.00 for each written exam; $25.00 for late renewal penalty; $10.00 replacement certificate fee. There will be other fees and slightly different fees proposed for the Industrial operators. The Agency is undecided if this fee will be collected from Wastewater Operators although it appears likely.

You may ask why the Agency is pursuing this now. There are operators that were certified in the 1970s and 1980s that may not have had any training since that time. Most other states that have a wastewater operator certification program utilize CEU’s as part of their programs which is a barrier to reciprocity.

The Illinois Section AWWA is seeking comments that will be summarized and forwarded to the Board of Certification. The Agency will evaluate the comments and report back to the Wastewater Operator Certification Board at their meeting scheduled for November 5, 2014.

Illinois Section AWWA believes that the addition of CEU requirements for renewal will enhance the value and stature of Wastewater Operator Certification in Illinois, and we ask that you closely consider how this concept will affect your operators and your organization. The strengthened certification program will also allow greater flexibility in reciprocity between states and a higher recognition of certified wastewater operators from Illinois.

As far as what we can expect from a rules standpoint, below are the rules that apply to Drinking Water Operators. We will work with IEPA in preparation for analogous regulations for wastewater regulations. The extensive Illinois Section AWWA online database tracking system used for water operators to track their training will be available for wastewater operator training tracking.

You can submit these comments to Laurie Dougherty, Executive Director by email by September 15th, 2014.

Section 681.820 Training Criteria (This is for water treatment operators, NOT wastewater)

a) The Agency will accept training for certificate renewal if the training directly relates to water distribution, water treatment, or the professional responsibilities of the operator.

1) Allowable training topics relating to potable water treatment and distribution include, but are not limited to:

Coagulation and Flocculation
Corrosion Control
Distribution System
Distribution System Facilities
Drinking Water Permits, Laws, Rules and Regulations
Drinking Water Related Computer Courses
Electrical Maintenance
Ground Water Protection
Ground Water Treatment
Iron and Manganese Control
Laboratory Procedures
Membrane Technology
Process Waste Handling and Disposal
Pumps and Hydraulics
Reservoir Management and Intake Structures
Reverse Osmosis
Sampling and Operating Reports
SCADA Training
Surface Water Protection
Surface Water Treatment
Taste and Odor Control
Water Quality
Water Softening
Water Sources & Treatment
Water Storage Facilities
Water Supply Math and Chemistry Calculations
Water Supply Operation and Maintenance

2) Allowable training topics relating to the professional responsibilities of the operator and safety include, but are not limited to:

Computer Workshops
Emergency Planning and Preparation
First Aid
Utility Administration Management

b) Training Exclusions. Types of training activities that do not directly relate to water distribution, water treatment, or the professional responsibilities of the operator shall not be accepted as renewal training credit. The following are not considered training for the purpose of meeting the certificate renewal training requirements:

1) Entertainment or recreational activities;
2) On the job work or apprenticeships;
3) Personal self-improvement courses;
4) Plant tours (unless drinking water related training is integrated into the tour);
5) Portions of meetings and conferences when drinking water related training is not provided (i.e., business session, lunch, breaks, etc.);
6) Time spent viewing conference/meeting exhibits; and
7) Travel time to and from training activities.

c) Training may be provided by any of the variety of organizations equipped to provide that training, such as colleges and universities, technical institutes, educational units of governmental or industrial agencies, professional operator organizations, and equipment suppliers and manufacturers. Training that meets the criteria, regardless of the location of the training or the location of the training provider, is allowed for renewal training credit. For example, drinking water related training from another state will be allowed for credit provided the criteria is met. In-house training programs provided at drinking water supplies are also acceptable for training credit provided all training criteria are met and proof of training documentation is provided to the trainees.

d) Acceptable training formats include classroom courses, teleconferences, courses offered via the Internet, workshops, seminars, correspondence courses, in-house training programs, and drinking water related training sessions at conferences/meetings of professional operator organizations.

e) Training must be approved by the Agency. Training providers or sponsors must request approval of training from the Agency before the training is offered. A training approved by the Agency will be assigned an Agency course number.

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