Drinking Water Operator Certification
Requirements: Contracting for Certified Water Operators
The Advisory Council for Operator Certification has passed guidelines that will allow water systems to achieve compliance with the Certification Law by contracting with an operator that is not a direct employee of the system. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Certification Office must approve all contracts that are intended to achieve compliance for certification. The Certification Office must have an actual copy of your contract for the approval. The contract must address six areas as described on the attached sheet.
The premise of a contract operator is that the operator must be in direct charge of your water/wastewater system; however, the operator can have other people work under their supervision. The operator does not necessarily have to perform every day-to-day operating task including sampling. One of the key areas to be examined by the Certification Office for its approval is the number of on-site visits per week to the water system and the duration of these visits. Please note that this is NOT a contract to sample for a water system—it is a contract to run and be in direct responsible charge of all matters pertaining to the system.
Section 1: Parties involved
The following are required:
- Name, address, and contact phone number(s) of contract operator;
- Certificate number(s) and company name (if applicable) of contract operator; and
- Water system name and address, owner or responsible-party contract name, address, and phone number(s).
Section 2: Period covered by the contract
Give a description of the length of the contract, and provisions for renewal of the contract. The start and end date for the contract is required. The MDH will not approve any contracts lasting more than five years.
Section 3: Duties and responsibilities of the contract operator
Should include but not be limited to such duties as:
- Collect, analyze, and submit all water system samples and report results.
- Distribution System Maintenance:
- Annual hydrant flushing
- Exercise all hydrants and valves on a regular basis
- Maintain and test all customer meters on a regular basis
- Answer customer complaints on water quality/quantity issues.
- Maintain and calibrate chemical feed equipment:
- Take total and free chlorine residual measurements and maintain a free chlorine level of at least 0.3 mg/l in all areas of the distribution system.
- Take fluoride level measurements and maintain a fluoride level of current requirements in all areas of the distribution system.
- Be on-site for all MDH inspections.
- Keep operational, maintenance, and administrative records of all water system activities.
- Maintain efficient system operation and maintenance (on-going, preventative, and housekeeping).
- Develop budget for water system.
- Provide good safe working environment.
- Analyze operational data to determine changes and improvements for more efficient operation.
- Establish an operator training program.
- Be available during all operating shifts for emergency situations. *The distances between a contract operator and a water system should be such that, if there is an emergency, the contract operator is able to reach the water system within one hour of the first notification of the emergency.
- Supervise contractee's system personnel and their work activities
- Shall be on-site at least _____ days per week and at least _____ hours per week with the requirement that the contract operator document and submit to the system owner the actual amount of time spent at the water system. *The "time served" document must remain on-site at all times and be accessible for MDH inspection.
- Shall maintain a valid operator certificate while this contract is in effect.
Section 4: Duties and responsibilities of the system owner
The owner is responsible for communicating all required regulatory information to the operator.
Section 5: Contract termination
If the contract is terminated for any reason, the owner will notify the MDH 30 days in advance of cancellation or termination. Failure to do so may result in fines of up to $10,000.
Section 6: Submitting the contract
Submit a signed copy of the contract, and the "Public Water System Designated Operator" form to:
Minnesota Department of Health
Public Water Supply Unit
Water Certification Officer
625 North Robert Street, P.O. Box 64975
St. Paul, MN 55164-0975
Questions about contract operation should be directed to 651-201-4700.
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