Operator Certification

Operator Certification deals with the certification of operators of community and non-transient non-community water systems, asbestos specialists, pesticide applicators, hazardous waste transporter, and other such specialists as required by the EPA or a state agency implementing an EPA-approved environmental regulatory program.


The 1996 SDWA Amendments called on states to design and implement a program for drinking water system operators to ensure that they were properly trained in the operation and maintenance of the type and size of the water system for which they were responsible. The information below describes EPA guidance for both the general operator certification program and special requirements to receive funds to reimburse training and certification for operators of systems serving 3300 or fewer persons:

  • Summary of State Operator Certification Programs (March 2016): A summary of state drinking water operator certification programs. This document is a reference tool for making comparisons among state programs for certifying operators of community water systems (CWSs) and nontransient noncommunity water systems (NTNCWSs).
  • EPA Operator Certification Guidelines State Implementation Guidance (January, 2000): includes a sample State Attorney General’s certification; a Crosswalk/Checklist table to assist States and EPA in determining whether or not a State’s operator certification program complies with or is substantially equivalent to the requirements of the guidelines; a list of Initial Submittal Items to accompany a State’s initial submittal of its Operator Certification program to EPA; and a Question and Answer document.
  • EPA Memorandum on Conducting Internal and External Reviews on State Operator Certification Programs (March 2009) provides suggested methods for internal and external review of state operator certification programs; recommends appropriate external reviewers; and specifies the types of information to be included in the annual operator certification program implementation report.


WaterOperator.org hosts the best resources on the web for small system operators in one place. It is a collaboration between the Rural Community Assistance Partnership and the University of Illinois, through the Illinois State Water Survey and the Illinois Water Resources Center, and funded by EPA. Through an easy-to-use search interface, operators can find:

  • Operator certificate programs and training events near you
  • An online library with thousands of free tools and documents to make your job easier
  • Email newsletters with the latest news relevant to small utilities


While there are no specifically identified “tools” for the operator certification program, there are a number of programs designed to help train operators across the breadth and depth of their program needs. Most states have their own training initiatives that are designed to meet state certification requirements. However, one of the more widely known training programs that offers courses and activities for small system operators is the Office of Water Programs at the California State University, Sacramento (CSUS) College of Engineering and Computer Science. The CSUS program provides distance learning courses for persons interested in the operation and maintenance of drinking water and wastewater facilities. More information about this training program and its products is available at http://www.owp.csus.edu/training.php.

CapCert Connections

ASDWA’s CapCert Connections is for state drinking water program operator certification and capacity development coordinators. Our goal is to share timely, informative articles designed to help make your efforts easier to accomplish; give you insights into what your peers are working on; and keep you up to date with meetings, workshops, and other plan-ahead events. We hope that this informationwill encourage greater collaboration between the Capacity Development and Operator Certification programs and enhance the ability of both programs to support drinking water systems across the United States. Subscribe or search the archives at www.asdwa.org/newsroom.
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