Municipal Affairs and Environment

Operator Certification Program

Policy for Newfoundland and Labrador Water and Wastewater Operator Certification Program

POLICY DIRECTIVE
Division: Water Resources Management P.D. W.R. 12-1
Prepared By: Ervin McCurdy, Deneen Spracklin, P.Eng. Issue Date: January 16, 2012
Approved By: Haseen Khan, P.Eng. Director Re-Issue Date:
Approved By: Martin Goebel, P.Eng. ADM Review Date:
Authorized By: Bill Parrott DM Superseded:
Terry French Minister Cancelled:

Subject:
Water and Wastewater Operator Certification in Newfoundland and Labrador

1.0 Objectives

This policy establishes the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment’s water and wastewater operator certification process requirements for operators of water works and sewage works in Newfoundland and Labrador.

2.0 Legislation

Water Resources Act, SNL 2002 cW-4.01, Section 38

3.0 Policy

The certification of water and wastewater system operators will be subject to the following policy guidelines established under Section 38 of the Act.

4.0 Background

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador utilizes the Multi-Barrier Strategic Action Plan (MBSAP) to ensure that the public is provided with clean and safe drinking water. The MBSAP is considered the most effective method to manage drinking water systems because it provides multiple levels of security against potential water contamination. The MBSAP has three levels;

  1. Source water protection; drinking water treatment; drinking water distribution system;
  2. Monitoring; inspection and enforcement; data management and reporting; operator education, training and certification;
  3. Legislative and policy frameworks; public involvement and awareness; guidelines, standards and objectives; research and development; and corrective measures.

This policy addresses operator education, training and certification in Level Two; and legislative and policy frameworks in Level Three.

This policy also addresses wastewater treatment, and wastewater collection systems as a means of protection of public health; the environment; and infrastructure sustainability.

5.0 Definitions

Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) - an organization which serves as an information centre for certification activities; recommends minimum standards for classification of water utilities and wastewater facilities and certification of the operators; provides and grades operator certification exams; and assists authorities in establishing new certification programs and upgrading existing ones.

Certifier - an employee designated by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change responsible for determining the eligibility of water and/or wastewater system operators, in accordance with requirements established by the ABC.

Contact Hour - a fifty-minute classroom instruction session, or its equivalent.

Continuing Education Unit (CEU) - One CEU is defined as ten contact hours of participation in an organized continuing education experience under responsible sponsorship, capable direction, and qualified instruction.

Department – Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment.

Direct Responsible Charge – experience earned in accountability for and performance of or direct supervision of active, daily on-site operation of the water treatment facility or wastewater treatment facility, or of a major segment of the above noted facilities when the operator has been authorized or identified by the owner as being in control of the facility or a segment thereof.

Operator Education Seminar – a water system or wastewater system classroom education seminar of half day, full day, or multi-day duration that is either delivered or approved by the department.

Operating Experience - time spent in the satisfactory performance of the duties of an operator in the day to day operation of a public drinking water facility, or a wastewater facility.

Operator - any person who directly operates and maintains on a day to day basis, a public drinking water facility or a wastewater facility, or a major segment of the above noted facility(s).

Small Wastewater System – a facility may be designated as a Small Wastewater System (SWWS) if it serves a population of not more than 500 persons, and provides no secondary wastewater treatment.

Very Small Water System – a facility may be designated as a Very Small Water System (VSWS) if it serves a population of not more than 500 persons, and provides no treatment other than disinfection.

6.0 Certification Process

6.1 Certification Requirements

The following classes of operator certification have been adopted for use in Newfoundland and Labrador, based on ABC definitions:

  • Operator in Training (OIT);
  • Class I;
  • Class II;
  • Class III;
  • Class IV;
  • Very Small Water System (VSWS); and
  • Small Wastewater System (SWWS).

Operators shall be permitted to certify to one class above that of the plant or system they operate provided they meet eligibility requirements.

6.2 Application for Certification

Operators applying for certification must submit to the Certifier an application form, provided by the department, along with required supporting documents. The Certifier shall review submitted applications, determine the eligibility of the applicant for examination, and notify the applicant of his/her status in writing within 15 days of receiving the application.

6.3 Eligibility Requirements

With the exception of those applying for OIT status, only those operators currently employed at a water distribution facility, water treatment plant, wastewater collection facility, or wastewater treatment plant shall be eligible for certification. Operators must also meet education and experience requirements as stipulated by the department to satisfy eligibility requirements.

6.4 Examination Administration

The department shall administer and supervise written examinations at locations and times set by the Certifier.

6.5 Examination Format and Grading

Examinations shall be completed in written or electronic format. Examinations will be graded by the ABC, and the applicant notified by the department of the results. Exam materials remain the property of the ABC and may not be removed from the examination site.

6.6 Oral Examinations

The department, at its discretion, may permit an operator to complete an oral examination instead of a written examination. In this instance, a candidate who passes the exam will be issued a Restricted Certificate of Qualification that is valid in Newfoundland and Labrador only.

6.7 Passing Grade

The pass mark on all certification exams is 70%.

6.8 Rewriting Exams

If an operator fails to attain a passing grade on an examination, that operator shall wait a minimum of four months before again writing the examination. Operators who fail to pass three consecutive attempts at an exam class will not be permitted to write again without providing documentation of having obtained further formal education such as GED or similar.

6.9 ABC Standards

The Operator Certification Program incorporates the ABC Certification Program Standards, and will follow these guidelines unless specifically amended by the department.

7.0 Operator Education and Experience Requirements

7.1 Operator in Training

  • High school diploma, GED, or equivalent substitution; and
  • Attendance at department approved course or seminar within one year of issuance of Operator in Training Certificate.

7.2 Class I

  • High school diploma, GED, or equivalent substitution; and
  • One year of acceptable operating experience of a Class I or higher utility.

No substitution of education for experience shall be permitted in Class I.

7.3 Class II

  • High school diploma, GED, or equivalent; and
  • Three years of acceptable operating experience of a Class I or higher utility.

A maximum of 675 contact hours, or 68 CEUs, or 68 quarter credits, or 45 semester credits of post high school education in the environmental control field, engineering or related science may be substituted for one and a half years of operating experience.

7.4 Class III

  • High school diploma, GED, or equivalent;
  • 900 contact hours, or 90 CEUs, or 90 quarter credits, or 60 semester credits of post high school education in the environmental control field, engineering or related science; and
  • Four years of acceptable operating experience of a Class II or higher utility, including two years of direct responsible charge.

Substitution of education for experience may proceed as follows:

  • A maximum of 900 contact hours, or 90 CEUs, or 90 quarter credits, or 60 semester credits of post high school education in the environmental control field, engineering, or related science, may be substituted for two years of experience; however, the applicant must still have one year of direct responsible charge experience.

Substitution of experience for education may proceed as follows:

  • A maximum of one year of direct responsible charge experience in a Class II or higher position may be substituted for 450 contact hours, or 45 CEUs, or 45 quarter credits, or 30 semester credits of post high school education in the environmental control field, engineering or related science.

7.5 Class IV

  • High school diploma, GED, or equivalent;
  • 1,800 contact hours, or 180 CEUs, or 180 quarter credits, or 120 semester credits of post high school education in the environmental control field, engineering or related science; and
  • Four years of acceptable operating experience of a Class III or higher utility, including two years of direct responsible charge.

Substitution of education for experience may proceed as follows:

  • A maximum of 900 contact hours, or 90 CEUs, or 90 quarter credits, or 60 semester credits of post high school education in the environmental control field, engineering or related science, may be substituted for two years of experience; however, the applicant must still have one year of direct responsible charge experience.

Substitution of experience for education may proceed as follows:

  • A maximum of two years of direct responsible charge experience in a Class III or higher position may be substituted for 900 contact hours, or 90 CEUs, or 90 quarter credits, or 60 semester credits of post high school education in the environmental control field, engineering or related science.

7.6 Substitutions

Education applied to operating and direct responsible charge experience requirement shall not also be applied to education requirement.

Operating or direct responsible charge experience applied to the education requirement shall not also be applied to the operating or direct responsible charge experience requirement.

One year of operating or direct responsible charge experience may be substituted for one year of high school, without limit.

Where applicable, related experience in maintenance, laboratories; other environmental control utility positions; and allied trades such as plumbing or other certification categories, may be substituted for one-half of the operating or direct responsible charge experience requirement; however, the applicant for Class III and IV must still have one year of direct responsible charge experience.

The maximum substitution of education and related experience for operating or direct responsible charge experience shall not exceed fifty percent of the stated operating or direct responsible charge experience requirement.

7.7 Eligibility Criteria for Very Small Water System Certification and Small Wastewater System Certification

Eligibility criteria for certification of operators of VSWS and SWWS shall be as follows:

  • System serves less than 500 people and has no treatment other than disinfection
  • System is a Class I facility;
  • Operator must have a minimum of 50 hours over six calendar months of hands-on experience operating the system or one equivalent to it or higher;
  • Operator must have attended appropriate education and training sessions provided by the department, or equivalent; and
  • Operator must have a High School Diploma, GED, or equivalent.

7.8 Grandfathering

In order to allow adequate time for operators to receive appropriate education, training, and experience to qualify for certification, “Grandfather” Certificates will be issued without examinations under the following conditions:

  • “Grandfather” Certificates will be issued only to operators for whom mandatory certification is a requirement;
  • Operator must be currently employed as an operator of a plant or system;
  • Operator must have been employed as a full-time or part-time operator of a plant or system for at least two years prior to January 1, 2010;
  • Operator must demonstrate capability of operating the plant or system by submitting a copy of employment history and references from the system owner;
  • “Grandfather” Certificates are valid only at the plant or system where the operator is employed, and are not transferable; and
  • “Grandfather” Certificates will expire on December 31, 2014 after which time the plant or system must be operated by an operator holding a valid certificate.

8.0 Certificate of Qualification

On successfully passing a certification exam, the department shall issue a Certificate of Qualification to the operator that indicates the class and category of treatment plant/system for which the operator is certified.

8.1 Certificate Permanency

  • Certification shall be permanent unless revoked/invalidated for cause, or replaced by one of a higher class.
  • OIT Certificates are valid for a three year period from the date of issuance and cannot be renewed.

8.2 Certificate Upgrading

Certified operators who desire to become certified in a higher classification must first be certified in the lower classification.

8.3 Certificate Validity

Certificates shall be valid as long as, in the department’s sole discretion, the holder uses reasonable care, skill and judgment in the performance of his/her duties.

Operators who terminate their employment at a treatment plant/system may maintain their certification for three years after which time the certificates will be invalidated. Operators whose certificates are invalidated may be issued new certificates of like classification provided appropriate proof of competency is presented to the department. Successful completion of an examination may be required, at the discretion of the department.

8.4 Certificate Revocation

The department may revoke the certificate of an operator following a hearing before the Certification Appeals Board, when it is found that the operator:

  • Has obtained certification through fraudulent means or deception;
  • Has recorded and/or documented system performance through fraudulent means or deception;
  • Has not exercised reasonable care, skill or judgment in the performance of his/her duties; and/or
  • Is incompetent or unable to perform duties properly.

8.5 Reciprocity

Certificates, other than restricted certificates, issued by any other certification programs which satisfy the provisions of the Operator Certification Program shall be recognized as valid and sufficient within the purview of the certification program.

9.0 Continuing Education Units (CEUs):

The primary purpose of the CEU is to quantify continuing adult education and training activities.

9.1 Assignment of CEUs

In evaluating CEUs issued by outside agencies, the department will consider those CEUs that have been generally accepted by other jurisdictions, in accordance with guidelines set by the Canadian Water and Wastewater Certification Committee and by ABC.

9.2 Education Equivalence

For the purposes of educational qualification for certification, a total of 45 CEUs shall be equivalent substitution for one year of formal education.

10.0 Facility Classification

The department shall classify all public water distribution, water treatment, wastewater collection and wastewater treatment systems in the Province.

10.1 Categories

Facilities shall be divided into four operational categories:

  1. Water Distribution;
  2. Water Treatment;
  3. Wastewater Treatment; and
  4. Wastewater Collection.

10.2 Classification System

Each of the four operational categories shall be classified in one of four classes designated as Class I, II, III, or IV. Facility classification shall be in accordance with criteria established by ABC. Classification of water distribution and wastewater collection systems shall be based upon populations served whereas classification of water treatment plants and wastewater treatment plants shall be based on a point system.

Classification of any system may be changed at the discretion of the department, by reason of changes in any condition or circumstance upon which the original classification was predicated.

11.0 Certification Appeals Board

The Operator Certification Program shall be governed by a Certification Appeals Board whose members are appointed by the Minister. The primary function of the Board will be to mediate disputes as to certification eligibility, exam marks, and instances of decertification. The Minister shall appoint the following representatives to the Board:

  • the Certifier;
  • a department representative in a managerial position;
  • a managerial representative of a municipality that employs a certified operator; and
  • one or more certified operators holding active, valid certificates.
 
Last Updated:
This page and all contents are copyright, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, all rights reserved.