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Utah Wastewater Operator Certification Program:
Becoming a Certified Wastewater Operator in Utah
In March 1991, following 20 plus years of a voluntary certification program, certification of wastewater works operators became mandatory. This booklet is compiled in an effort to answer questions most often asked by operators and is a supplement to the Rule for Certification of Wastewater Works Operators (R317-10). If you would like a copy of the Rule or if you have questions not answered by this booklet, please contact:
Located in the Multi Agency State Office Building
DEQ 3rd Floor
195 North 1950 West
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116
To obtain regular certification, an operator must:
- Comply with the education and experience requirements for the certification level for which the application is being made,
- File a properly completed application for the certification examination with the Wastewater Operator Certification Program by the application deadline,
- Be a person legally residing in the United States,
- Pay the exam fee, and
- Achieve a passing score on the certification examination (70% or higher).
Not every operator is required to be certified under the mandatory certification law. Chief operators and supervisors who make process decisions for the system and are designated to be in direct responsible charge must be certified at the level of the facility classification. All other operators in direct responsible charge must be certified at no less than one grade lower than the facility classification or at the lowest possible classification in the case of grade I facilities.
Facility classifications are specified in the rules (Utah Administrative Code R317-10) and are too lengthy to include here. However, for collection and wastewater treatment operators there are four (4) grades that correspond to the facility classification. In addition, for operators of small lagoon systems, who usually maintain both the Class I lagoon and the Class I collection system, there is only one (1) grade that combines treatment and collection. If the system changes classifications, operators are required to obtain certifications corresponding to the new classification.
Direct responsible charge (DRC) as defined in the rule, means "active on-site charge and performance of operation duties." Generally, direct responsible charge is taken by the chief operator or shift supervisors; however a night shift operator or one who works as the sole operator will also have direct responsible charge of the system as they independently make decisions affecting system processes.
Restricted certificate means a certificate issued when an operator passes a certification exam, but doesn't meet all the other requirements (experience or education) to be certified at that grade.
- All certification grades require twelve years of education (high school diploma or equivalency); however, grades I and II allow experience to be substituted for education.
- A limited amount of education, beyond a high school education or graduate equivalence degree can be substituted for experience for grades II through IV.
- For all grades, a graduate equivalence degree is valid in lieu of a high school diploma.
- Training classes are not required prior to taking the certification examinations, but they are available and may be helpful.
Applying for the Examination
Complete the application and return it with a completed Citizenship/Alien ID Certification form, along with the fee to the same address. After your application has been processed, it will be placed on file. Check the Web site or call our office to verify your registration.
If for some reason you cannot take the exam, you may cancel your application before the application deadline and receive a refund of the exam fee or reschedule for the next exam date. After the deadline, no fees will be refunded unless another person is able to take your place for that exam.
Should you fail the exam, you may come into the Division of Water Quality offices at 195 North 1950 West, Salt Lake City, to review your test within 30 days. You need to make an appointment. You may challenge any exam question, but individual scores will not be changed. However, if an error has been made in grading the exam, everyone who correctly responded to incorrectly graded questions will be given credit. In addition, every effort will be made to work with the testing agency to improve poorly worded questions for the next exam.
Fees are charged for the examination, but only to cover the cost of the testing service. The cost is specified on the application form.
Some operators know how to operate a plant but have difficulty passing a written exam. In certain instances the Certification Council will allow an oral examination.
Anyone may take any examination. However, the operator will not be qualified as a certified operator until all the conditions of the certificate are met. In other words, a “restricted” certificate will be issued.
If you are certified in another state, planning on working in Utah, a person legally residing in the United States, and would like to be certified, print, call or write to request an application stating your situation. If the other state has equivalent standards to Utah, the Certification Council may grant you certification after reviewing your application. A fee will be charged for your certificate by reciprocity. Detailed Instructions
If you are working in another state at the time of application and your application is approved, you will be sent a letter of intent to issue a certificate by reciprocity. When you begin working in Utah, provide proof of your employment to our office along with a copy of your current valid certificate from the other state, and you will be issued the certificate
Certificates are issued for the following categories:
- Wastewater Treatment Operator—Grades I through IV
- Restricted Wastewater Treatment Operator—Grades I through IV
- Wastewater Collection System Operator—Grades I through IV
- Restricted Wastewater Collection System Operator—Grades I through IV
- Small Lagoon System Operator—Grade I—Wastewater Treatment/Collection System combined
- Restricted Small Lagoon System Operator—Grade I—Wastewater Treatment/Collection System combined
- Grandfather certificates are for a specific facility at the classification and grade at which it existed on March 16, 1991. If the facility changes process or classification, the operator would be required to acquire the new certification through examination. More "grandfather" info.
- New voluntary certificates are now offered if an individual passes the following exams. These are ABC Standardized exams for which no criteria has been adopted by Utah's Wastewater Operator Certification Council to determine "restricted" or "unrestricted" status.
- Biosolids Land Applier—Grades I through II
- Wastewater Laboratory Analys—Grades I through IV
- Plant Maintenance Technologist—Grades I through III
Certificates are valid for up to three years and must be renewed by December 31 of the year they expire. A renewal notice will be sent to you approximately two months prior, but if you don't receive one please call the Wastewater Certification Program. You are responsible for renewing your certificate.
In order to renew your certificate you must:
- Be a person legally residing in the United States.
- Keep up your continuing education units (CEUs)—all CEUs must be earned during the three-year period prior to the expiration date.
- Submit completed renewal application prior to expiration.
- Submit the renewal fee prior to expiration. (All certificates expire December 31st of the expiration year)
Expired certificates may be reinstated within one year following its expiration. In order to reinstate your expired certificate you must:
- Accumulate the required continuing education units prior to expiration.
- Submit completed renewal application within one year after expiration.
- Submit the appropriate renewal and reinstatement fee within one year after expiration.
If you would like to upgrade your certificate, all you need to do is call our office (or print from the web site) for an examination application, complete it and send it back with the appropriate fee. Once you verify the test date and time you just need to—TAKE ANOTHER TEST!
If you were issued a “restricted” certificate, but now meet all the education and/or experience requirements for your particular certification, you may submit a completed application, along with the appropriate fee, and an “unrestricted” certificate will be issued.
Keep in Touch
Please LET US KNOW if:
- You change plants, employers, DRC status;
- You change your mailing address;
- You change your name due to marriage or court order.
New National Guidelines for Apprenticeship Standards—Water Environment Federation—Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator
Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday
- Phone: 801-536-4344
- Fax: 801-536-4301
Wastewater Operator Certification
Division of Water Quality
P.O. Box 144870
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-4870
Division of Water Quality
Multi Agency State Office Building
195 North 1950 West, DEQ 3rd Floor
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116