Drinking Water Operator Certification: Relevancy of Training for Certified Water Operators - EH: Minnesota Department of Health

Drinking Water Operator Certification
Relevancy of Training for Certified Water Operators

Protecting drinking water is one of the most important jobs in the world. Certified water operators are needed to perform these vital functions, and ongoing training is necessary for operators to maintain their certification and to stay up-to-date as new regulations and technologies emerge.


The purpose of continuing education requirements for certificate renewal is to protect public health and the environment through training that:

  1. reinforces and advances an operator's technical knowledge, skills, and abilities;
  2. expands an understanding of emerging technologies and best practices.

Certified water operators and organizations providing training must understand the concept of relevancy with regard to courses and workshops that are offered. To apply toward drinking water certification, training must be relevant to the operation, maintenance, or management of a water system and have an influence on water quality, water supply, or public health protection.

Approved training subject matter includes the duties and responsibilities of operators, types of water and wastewater treatment, variations in water and wastewater characteristics, water distribution systems, and wastewater collection systems. Courses must improve the applicant's knowledge in any one or more of the following areas, as they relate to either water or wastewater treatment: basic science, mathematics, operating procedures, treatment processes, equipment, equipment maintenance, management, and state law and rules relating to water and wastewater.

Some training is considered directly relevant, and some training is relevant in an indirect way; the latter is known as "related" training. Direct contact hours are assigned to technical courses, seminars, etc. that deal directly with system/facility operation and maintenance. Related contacted hours are applied to courses that deal with non-operational topics, including engineering, math, and science; management topics; safety topics; laboratory topics; and vendor exhibits.

The importance of relevancy for continuing education for water and wastewater operators

  1. To maintain and ensure subject matter for operator training that directly supports the protection of public health and environment; and
  2. To provide consistent, credible, unbiased guidance and direction for certification programs, operators, systems/facility owners, and training providers.

Relevancy for operator training will provide benefits such as:

  • Elevate operator professionalism
  • Build public confidence in operator competency
  • Minimize liability for certification programs, owner and operators
  • Protect infrastructure
  • Optimize uses of training resources
  • Promote reciprocity by validating and substantiating training

A training workshop or seminar must have at least 50 percent of its content be considered direct for the overall session to be judged as relevant. At least 50 percent of certificate renewal contact hours must be from direct water operations training.

Here are some examples of direct and related types of training


  • Specific utility management topics such as regulatory compliance, and capacity development
  • Utility-focused safety topics such as chlorine handling
  • Water rights issues that relate to source water protection and supply
  • Water quality topics such as treatment techniques, water quality monitoring, and recordkeeping related to test results
  • Operational subjects such as pump maintenance and repair, cross connection control, and backflow prevention
  • Specialized computer software applications used in utility operations (SCADA)


  • General management topics such as supervision, rate setting, security, emergency response
  • General safety topics such trenching and shoring, and working in confined spaces
  • General system maintenance computer skills (GIS/GPS)
  • Wastewater training
  • Engineering, general math
  • Laboratory and general chemical handling safety topics
  • Competent Person

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Updated Wednesday, 27-Mar-2019 08:33:10 CDT