Wastewater Operator Licensing

The Board for Waterworks and Wastewater Works Operators and On-site Sewage System Professionals regulates individuals who operate water and wastewater treatment facilities and alternative on-site water reclamation systems. The Board is comprised of two ex officio members: the Director of the Office of Water Programs of the State Department of Health or his designee, and the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality or his designee, a faculty member of a state university or college whose principal field of teaching is management or operation of a waterworks or wastewater works, a citizen member and one representative for each of the following groups: waterworks operators, wastewater works operators, waterworks owners, wastewater works owners, alternative on-site system operators, alternative on-site system installers and on-site soil evaluators. With the exception of the ex officio members, Board members are appointed by the Governor to serve a four-year term and may not serve more than two consecutive terms.

Program Administration

Responsibility for administration of the program to license water treatment and wastewater treatment plant operators is assigned to the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR). Regulations, information and program contacts are available on the DPOR water/wastewater operator web site.

The following is a brief description of the program and its requirements. It does not represent an all inclusive discussion. For specific questions, please contact the Water and Wastewater Operator Licensing Section of the Department of Profession and Occupational Regulation.

Decorative example of plant operator checking settleometer

 

Program Description

Virginia’s operator licensing program requires that any individual operating a waterworks or wastewater works (as defined by the law) must have a license of the appropriate category (waterworks or wastewater works) and class (plant classification). Plant classifications are based on the volume of water treated and the complexity of the treatment system. Plant classes range from I - VI (water) and I - IV (wastewater). In each case, Class I facilities are the largest and/or most complex treatment system.

 

Operator Licensing FAQs

How do I become licensed?

An individual must meet the experience requirement for the license classification being sought and pass a Board approved exam. The amount of experience required will depend on the license classification and the education of the individual.

What is experience?

Experience is the time spent learning how to physically and theoretically operate the waterworks or wastewater works as an operator in training or time spent operating a waterworks or wastewater works for which the operator is currently licensed. Experience limited solely to the collection system, laboratory or system maintenance is not acceptable experience.

Any experience gained while working as an operator in training must be verified by a licensed operator.

Are there allowable substitutions for experience?

In some cases training, experience in the other category or formal education can be substituted for a portion of the required operating experience. No substitutions are permitted for a Class IV or lower license and substitutions for the class I — III are dependent on the applicant’s education and the license applied for.

What does the term “operate” mean?

Any act of an individual which may impact on the finished water quality at a waterworks or the plant effluent at a wastewater works.

Who must have a license?

Anyone performing the duties of an operator must have a license equal to or greater than the class of the plant, unless they are working as operator in training under the direct supervision of a licensed operator.

Where do I get applications to become a licensed operator?

The application and examination process are administered by the Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) .

Download the appropriate candidate information bulletin (CIB) on the DPOR website and follow the instructions for applying to take the examination.

Definitions

The following are definitions of terms used in the discussion of the operator licensing program. The definitions are reprinted from the program regulation (18VAC160-20-10 - Definitions).

Category — the two divisions of waterworks and wastewater works operators’ licenses one being waterworks and the second being wastewater works.

Classification — means the divisions of each category of waterworks and wastewater works operators’ licenses into classes where class “I” represents the highest classification.

Experience — means the time spent learning how to physically and theoretically operate the waterworks or wastewater works as an operator in training or time spent operating a waterworks or wastewater works for which the operator is currently licensed.

Licensed Operator — an operator with a license in the category and with a classification equal to or higher than the classification of the waterworks or wastewater works being operated.

Operate — any act of an individual which may impact on the finished water quality at a waterworks or the plant effluent at a wastewater works.

Operator — any individual employed or appointed by an owner, and who is designated by such owner to be the person in responsible charge, such as a supervisor, a shift operator, or a substitute in charge and whose duties include testing or evaluation to control waterworks or wastewater works operations. Not included in this definition are superintendents or directors of public works, city engineers, or other municipal or industrial officials whose duties do not include the actual operation or direct supervision of waterworks or wastewater works.

Operator in training — an individual employed by an owner to work under the direct supervision of an operator holding a valid license in the proper category and classification for the purpose of gaining experience and knowledge in the duties and responsibilities of an operator of a waterworks or wastewater works. An operator in training is not an operator.

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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