Wastewater Operator Certification
Certification, Training and Technical Assistance for Wastewater Treatment Facility Operators.
Owning and operating wastewater treatment facilities (WWTF) and collection systems represents a significant lifelong investment for any community. Protecting this investment requires that wastewater treatment facility operators be trained and certified to ensure they have the knowledge necessary to successfully carry out their job responsibilities.
NHDES' Wastewater Operations Section oversees certification of these wastewater operators, provides required training and offers technical assistance to operators while on the job.
New Hampshire requires that any individual charged with operating a public WWTF become a certified operator by NHDES due to the importance of ensuring that wastewater is properly contained, conveyed and treated before being discharged. The certification process is designed to ensure that Certified Operators have the knowledge and ability to properly operate and maintain such facilities and the associated collection systems.
Individuals who are interested in becoming a certified operator in New Hampshire, and are not certified in another state, must pass a written examination. Individuals who are certified elsewhere can apply to be certified by reciprocity for Grades I, II and III. There is a $50 fee to NHDES for examination or reciprocity.
Once all requirements are met NHDES keeps a listing of active certified wastewater operators for the state of New Hampshire.
Certified Operators are responsible for renewing their certification every two years. The individual must submit a complete, signed renewal application and $50 fee to NHDES prior to the expiration of his or her existing certification. If a complete renewal application is not received prior to the certification’s expiration, the certification can still be renewed by submitting the application, renewal fee, and an additional late fee of $25. After 90 days, the certification is considered fully expired and that individual will need to become recertified by submitting a new application and retaking the exam. These fees are separate form the $50 examination fee.
Training Requirements and Opportunities
Certified operators are required to complete ongoing education and training to renew their certifications. Each operator must submit proof that he or she has completed the required number of Continuing Education Units (CEUs), during the current two-year period, with their renewal application. For Grade I and I-OIT, 1.0 CEU is needed per renewal period. For Grades II and above (including OIT grades), 2.0 CEUs are required per renewal period. CEUs are calculated based on ten hours of education equaling 1.0 CEU, or one college credit equaling 1.5 CEUs.
If a certified operator earns more than the required number of CEUs, the operator may carry a certain amount of excess CEUs forward to the next renewal period. A Grade I or I-OIT may carry forward 0.5 CEU, while operators at Grade II and above may carry forward 1.0 CEU.
Training courses are offered by NHDES in the spring and fall of each year generally held at the NHDES Operator Training Center in Franklin, New Hampshire. A wide variety of wastewater related subjects are addressed each session, and CEUs are earned for each class.
Course schedules and registration are available approximately four weeks in advance of the first class. Registration is on a first come, first served basis. See the training calendar below.
The next scheduled exam for wastewater operators is scheduled for June 5, 2024. All exam applications should be received no later than April 24, 2024.
Calendar of Events
Operations and Maintenance Manuals
Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Manuals, while unique to each facility, are important documents for all facilities to maintain and have readily available. These documents provide vital information on how that specific facility functions and are a valuable resource for all operating personnel.
O&M Manuals are unique to each treatment facility because each treatment facility provides specific treatment for a distinct influent wastewater stream, and to meet required effluent limits for discharge to the receiving waterbody. O&M Manuals are living documents and should be reviewed and updated frequently, especially when the facility undergoes changes such as operational improvements and facility upgrades.
O&M Manuals include:
- Information on how the facility operates. This includes the intent to operate and how the facility is designed in order to achieve the permitted effluent limits.
- Specifications for facility equipment and maintenance. This information includes an explanation of the basic equipment, its function and capabilities, its impact on other units, and what factors affect its operation.
- Details for executing the facility’s Emergency Response Plan.
- Tips for troubleshooting common problems.
- Contact information for the facility’s operator(s).
All projects funded by the EPA and NHDES are required to supply NHDES with an O&M Manual(s) per rule. O&M Manuals must be available for use at the time of operational start-up. At the end of one year of operating experience the O&M Manual(s) should be updated as necessary. Additionally, both the EPA and NHDES require the inclusion of an Emergency Response Plan in every O&M Manual for wastewater treatment facilities and pump stations. Other funding agencies (the US Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, for example) may also require that all systems complete a Security Vulnerability Assessment and Emergency Response Plan prior to awarding funding for wastewater improvement projects. NHDES strongly recommends that the plan be developed by the people who are most knowledgeable about a system's users, equipment, infrastructure, and resources. However, it is ultimately up to the owner to make sure a complete O&M Plan is submitted, and approved by NHDES. The plan must be reviewed and signed by both the owner and operator.
Emergency response planning and preparedness is an important element in managing a wastewater treatment facility and collection system because of the potential extent of the impact that an emergency could have: the citizens of your town and our state rely upon wastewater treatment personnel for protection against unexpected events that may jeopardize public health and safety,; municipal officials are responsible for protecting the taxpayer’s investment in its infrastructure and to ensure that regulatory requirements will be met during an emergency; and wastewater employees expect to be protected from the consequences of natural or man-made disasters affecting the wastewater system. In other words, preparation for the unexpected is necessary and requires a functional emergency plan be in place to handle a variety of situations. NHDES has developed an Emergency Response Planning Guide to assist you in your emergency response and planning.
An experienced staff is available to provide technical assistance for:
- Visits to facilities to inspect and offer "one-on-one" training in all areas of facility operations and maintenance.
- Specific process control training and assistance at the WWTF to enable a facility to get back into compliance with its NPDES permit.
- The sharing of information and ideas between operators of WWTFs through the use of round table discussion groups, a wastewater newsletter, an annual trade fair, and through partnership with the New Hampshire Water Pollution Control Association.