Operator Certification

Operator Certification is the certification of operators for community and non-transient non-community water systems, as required by the EPA and state primacy agencies implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) regulatory program.

Operator Workforce Programs and Resources for Students

State Drinking Water Contract Operator Laws and Resources Table (New – December 2022)

ASDWA developed this table of state drinking water program contractor operator laws and resources based on a survey of state Operator Certification Coordinators in October 2022. During the August 2022 National Capacity Development and Operator Certification Workshop, states voiced the need to share information and resources, and consider opportunities to learn from and use existing state examples.

Table Contents: The table includes columns for the state, type and name/description of law, guidance, or resource and provides web links and a description of the contents. It can be sorted by column and exported for your convenience.

Updates: Please contact Deirdre White of ASDWA at dwhite@asdwa.org if you have additional information to add to the table from your state and/or if you have suggestions for edits or other improvements. ASDWA will continue to update the table as more information becomes available.


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.