The Wastewater Operator Certification Program Advisory Committee has reviewed the following policies.  Ecology and the Advisory Committee will review and update the policies as needed.

General Policies

  1. Ecology shall provide operators opportunities to comment on proposed changes to the certification program requirements.
  2. Copies of the Advisory Committee meeting summaries may be provided to the section presidents of the Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association (PNCWA), municipalities, and other interested parties when requested.
  3. It is the responsibility of each certified operator to keep the certification program coordinator informed of address changes.  Ecology shall not consider appeals from individuals who fail to renew their certificates or meet professional growth requirements due to incorrect mailing addresses.
  4. Applications and reciprocity requests are confidential and will be handled in accordance with Ecology’s policy on Public Disclosure #10-30.
  5. Upon request, the Department of Ecology will make the details of a revocation of a Washington State wastewater operator certificate public, if the revocation was made due to:
    ·        Fraud or deceit in obtaining the certificate,
    ·        Gross negligence in the operation of a wastewater treatment plant,
    ·        Violation of the requirements of Chapter 173-230 WAC or the statute it implements or of any lawful rule, regulation or order of the department.

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Reciprocity Policy

Individuals may apply for reciprocity at any time and Ecology may issue certificates at any time to qualifying reciprocity applicants.

  1. To qualify for reciprocity an applicant must meet Washington state minimum education and experience requirements and pay the appropriate application fee.
  2. The applicant must have taken and passed a standardized Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) equivalent exam.
  3. The applicant must meet minimum exam scores as required by Ecology.

Automatic Upgrade of Certification Level Policy

  1. Ecology will issue Group I certificates to individuals who have passed the Operator-in-Training exam, met the Group I operating experience requirement, and paid the application fee.

Education Requirement Policies

  1. Ecology shall consider one continuing education unit (CEU) equal to one college level quarter credit for the purpose of determining an applicant’s eligibility for certification.
  2. Courses completed to meet the professional growth requirement or college requirement must relate to the operation, maintenance, or management of water and/or wastewater systems.
  3. Relevant training must have a CEU or college credit assignment prior to submittal for reciprocity or examination applications to be accepted. If CEUs are used to meet the requirement, the standard of evaluation must be similar to the Wastewater Operator Certification Program course/training review procedure.
  4. CD Rom and/or Online Training will be accepted by the Department of Ecology toward the wastewater treatment plant operator’s professional growth requirement if the following criteria apply and can be documented:
    ·       Subject of training must be considered relevant to wastewater treatment.
    ·       Training is from a reputable trainer.
    ·       The trainer is able to provide a course description, a course timeline (i.e., average training contact hours), and proof of successful completion.

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Operating Experience Policies

"Operating experience," as defined in Chapter 173-230 WAC, means "the routine performance of duties, on-site in a wastewater treatment plant, that affect the plant performance or effluent quality."

  1. Ecology may consider the following types of work experience as satisfying the operating experience requirements for wastewater treatment plant operator certification:
    a) Experience in monitoring and operating computer systems used to control the operation of wastewater treatment plants.
    b) Experience as a wastewater laboratory technician as long as the laboratory is on-site at the wastewater treatment plant.
    c) Wastewater treatment plant maintenance, such as, equipment, machine and pump maintenance, grounds keeping, cleaning headworks, grit channels and bar screens, and cleaning and changing ultraviolet lights.
  2. Experience in the operation and maintenance of industrial wastewater treatment facilities may be substituted for up to half the operating experience requirement for Group II, III, and IV applicants.  Group I applicants may not substitute any portion of the operating experience requirement with related experience or education.

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Testing Policies

  1. Individuals who request special accommodations for the exam must make the request in writing and state the reason for the request.  Ecology will evaluate each request in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines.
  2. Picture ID is required to take an exam.
  3. Ecology will revoke wastewater operator certificates obtained using fraud or deceit.
  4. The certification coordinator's supervisor does not need to approve applications for examinees retaking Group IV exams.
  5. Application fees are not refundable.
  6. Ecology will return incomplete applications for examination or upgrade to the applicant.
  7. The applicant must submit training documentation needed to meet the education and experience requirements with the application.
  8. Certification exam Proctors cannot be certified operators or family members of certified operators.
  9. Ecology will not give exam results over the telephone or by email to operators or employers.
  10. Employers must request pass or fail information in writing regarding mandatory certified operator positions.

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Appeal Policies

  1. Operators may appeal decisions of the certification coordinator.  An operator may choose to pursue an informal and/or formal appeal option.
  2. An informal appeal is directed to the Section Manager of the Program Development Services Section.  An informal appeal must be made within 30 days of notice of the certification coordinator's decision and must be made in writing.  The section manager will respond in writing within 30 days.
  3. A formal appeal involves a two-step process:
    a) Appeals must be made in writing to the Program Manager of the Water Quality Program within 30 days of either the notice of the coordinator's decision or the notice of the informal (Program Development Services Section Manager's) appeal determination.  The program manager will respond in writing within 45 days.
    b) An appeal may be, in accordance with the Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB) guidelines, made to the PCHB of the Program Manager's determination.  This appeal must be made within 30 days of the notice of the final determination made by the Program Manager.

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Professional Growth Policies

  1. Duplicate trainings will not earn continuing education units towards the professional growth requirement.  Training may be applied only one time towards professional growth during a professional growth period.
  2. A certified operator that instructs a class may receive the same number of CEUs for the class as the attendees.
    a) If an operator instructs a portion of a class, they can receive partial credit for their portion of instruction if they don't attend the entire class.
    b) If an operator instructs a portion of a class and attends the entire class they can receive credit for the entire class.
    c) The instructor must be noted on the roster as a certified operator to receive credit for the training.

Professional Growth Requirement Policy

  1. The three required continuing education units (CEU) needed to meet professional growth must be relevant to wastewater treatment, operation, and maintenance in accordance with the “ABC CEU Course Topic Guidelines for Wastewater Treatment Operators.”  Training that is not relevant to wastewater will no longer be accepted for professional growth.
    a) Examples of acceptable training include: Basic computers, electricity, hydraulics, and math for operators, water chemistry and microbiology; Equipment O&M - Aeration equipment, belt filter press, blowers & compressors, electrical controls, scada system, generators, hydraulic, instrumentation, motor control centers, motors, engines, drives, pipes, valves, fittings, pumps; Treatment Process & Control - Nutrient removal, Biosolids, chemical treatment, storage & handling, disinfection, odor control, process control techniques, sampling/analysis, sand/media filters, screens, grinders, comminutors, sedimentation, clarification, sludge dewatering, stabilization, reduction, activated sludge.
    b) Examples of  unacceptable training include: Drinking water, Industrial wastewater, Safety - First aid/CPR, drivers training, flagger training, back safety, ladder safety, slips, trips, falls; Collections - Manhole rehabilitation, tv inspection, vactor trucks, flushing & pigging, service lines and connections; Management - Private property issues, training/teaching skills, sexual harassment, alcohol/drug abuse, ethics.

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