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Wastewater Operator FAQ

What is a “Wastewater Treatment Plant” and a “Wastewater facility”?

As defined in Statute by RSA 485-A2 XVI-a: “Wastewater treatment plant” means the treatment facility or group of treatment devices which treats domestic or combined domestic and industrial wastewater through alteration, alone or in combination, of the physical, chemical, or bacteriological quality of the wastewater and which dewaters and handles sludge removed from the wastewater.


As defined in Statute by RSA 485-A2 XIX: “Wastewater facilities” means the structures, equipment, and processes required to collect, convey, and treat domestic and industrial wastes, and dispose of the effluent and sludge.

 

Who is considered a Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator?

The term “Wastewater treatment plant operator” (operator) means “operator” as defined in Statute by RSA 485-A:2, VII-a, namely:
“(a) The individual who has full responsibility for the daily operation of a wastewater treatment plant or a pollution control facility;
(b) The individual normally responsible for the operations shift; or
(c) Individuals who perform important operating functions.”


“Operator in responsible charge” is identified as the individual who oversees the daily operation of the wastewater treatment facility and is ultimately accountable for decisions involving all plant operational duties, including maintenance of process equipment, laboratory work, equipment operation, administration, process control, record keeping, and reporting necessary for the wastewater treatment plant to comply with applicable federal and state requirements.

 

What role does a Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator play in protecting public health and the environment?

Wastewater treatment plant operators play a key role in protecting New Hampshire’s surface waters and groundwater. Operators maintain and operate various types of mechanical and computerized equipment in wastewater treatment facilities in order to remove the harmful components from wastewater and render the water suitable for discharge to a surface water or to groundwater.

Can anyone operate a wastewater treatment plant in New Hampshire?

Due to the importance of ensuring that wastewater is properly contained, conveyed and treated prior to being discharged, New Hampshire law requires public wastewater treatment plants to be operated only by operators who have been certified by NHDES. The certification process is designed to make sure that certified operators have the knowledge and ability to properly operate and maintain such plants and the associated collection systems.

How can I become a certified New Hampshire wastewater operator?

Individuals who are interested in becoming a certified wastewater operator in New Hampshire, who are not certified elsewhere, must pass a written examination. Individuals who are certified elsewhere can apply to be certified by reciprocity (that is, without taking the examination) for Grades I, II and III. Both routes to certification (exam or reciprocity) require you to submit the same Application for Certification of Wastewater Treatment Operators with appropriate documentation.

 

When, and where, does New Hampshire offer Wastewater Operator Exams?

NHDES offers wastewater exams on the first Wednesday of June and December each year, at the Franklin Training Facility (528 River Street Franklin, NH 03235).

What is the process for getting New Hampshire Wastewater Certification by reciprocity?

An operator certified in another jurisdiction may apply for reciprocity for Grades I through III by so indicating on the application form. The Certification Committee will review the application and the requirements for certification of the certifying jurisdiction. The Committee will issue a certification by reciprocity if it determines that (1) the requirements of the other jurisdiction are equivalent to New Hampshire’s, (2) the individual is actively seeking employment in New Hampshire, and (3) the certification was obtained by examination. Submit the Application for Certification of Wastewater Treatment Operators (with appropriate documentation).

Can I get New Hampshire Wastewater Certification faster than the twice-a-year exams even if I don’t currently have certification from another state?

If you aren’t currently certified as a wastewater operator from another state, and you don’t want to wait until the next New Hampshire Wastewater Exam you may take another state’s exam (may be offered more frequently), and once you’ve obtained a passing grade apply for New Hampshire Certification by Reciprocity. You can find more information about wastewater exams offered in nearby states at the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission Website.

What are New Hampshire’s requirements for each of the different wastewater certification grades?
  Total Months Required Experience WWTF Substitution for WWTF Experience - At Water Industrial or Pretreatment Substitution for WWTF Experience - At WWTF no substitution Substitution for non-WWTF (50%) Experience - Related job, education or training Totl Years Required Education Substitution for Education - 2 years work = 1 year education Substitution for Education - (45 CEUs = 1 year)
Grade (100%) (Minimum 50% Experience) (75% of the 50% can come from this group) (25% of the 50% must be from a municipal WWTF) (Maximum 50% of non-WWTF experience) (100%) (Maximum 50% of education can be work) (Minimum 50% of education must be education)

 I - OIT

I

0

12

0

6

0

4.5

0

1.5

0

6

High School (GED)    

II - OIT

II

12

36

6

18

4.5

13.5

1.5

4.5

6

18

High School (GED)    

III - OIT

III

24

48

12

24

9

18

3

6

12

24

HS + 2 years

1

1

1

1

IV - OIT

IV

48

72

24

36

18

27

6

9

24

36

HS + 2 years

1

1

1

1

 

How do I register for a wastewater exam?

Applicants must submit a complete, and signed Application for Certification of Wastewater Treatment Operators with $50 fee no later than two months prior to the date of the examination.


The Certification Committee, established by statute, reviews each application and required supporting documents, determines the applicant’s eligibility, and notifies the applicant in writing of whether he or she has qualified to take the examination.
Applications are sent to:


New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services – Water Division
Wastewater Operations Section
PO Box 95
Concord, NH  03302-0095

 

What is the format of the wastewater exams?

The exams are written, and the format of questions is described in the following table. Passing is a 70% overall grade. An Interview with the Certification Committee is required for those passing a grade two (or higher) Exam, or grade one if they are in responsible charge of a facility (only one interview is required during a career).

Grade Level   Multiple Choice & Matching Math Word Problems Essay Questions
1 and 1-OIT  70 Points 30 Points (6 of 8) None
2 and 2-OIT   70 Points 30 Points (6 of 8) None
3 and 3-OIT  60 Points 30 Points (6 of 8) 10 Points (1 of 2)
4 and 4-OIT  50 Points 30 Points (6 of 8) 20 Points (2 of 3)
What can I do to prepare for the Exam?

Exams are comprehensive in nature; therefore, there is no single “best” or easy way to prepare for the Exam. Although we don’t give an “ABC” Exam, a good example of “need-to-know” information is found on their website. 
We also recommend Sacramento State: Water Programs and Water Environment Federation because they provide a comprehensive information on the understanding of wastewater treatment.

What do I need to do to maintain my Certification after I get it?

Once certified, an individual is responsible for renewing the certification every two years. They must submit a complete, signed renewal application with a fee of $50 and supporting qualifying continuing education certificates (CEUs) to NHDES prior to expiration of their existing certificate. If the renewal application with full payment 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 expired and recertification will require a completely new application and retaking of the examination.

How many continuing education units (CEUs) must I have to renew my Certification?

Grade 1 and 1-OIT operators are required to earn 10 hours = 1.0 CEU of training per two-year renewal period. Grade 2, 3 and 4 operators are required to earn 20 hours = 2.0 CEUs of training per two-year renewal period. If more than the minimum number of CEUs are earned, Grade 1 & 1 -OIT certified operators may carry forward a maximum of 5 hours (0.5 CEU) of excess training and apply this into the next renewal period. Grades 2, 3 and 4 may carry forward a maximum of 10 hours (1.0 CEU).

What training can I use to fulfill my continuing education (CEU) requirement? 

What training can I use to fulfill my continuing education (CEU) requirement? 
Only approved classes can be used to fulfill the continuing education requirement.
To qualify for CEU credit, a program shall be:

  1. Offered by NHDES;
  2. Offered by a state-wide or regional professional association of wastewater treatment professionals; or
  3. Approved by NHDES, pursuant to Env-Wq 304.20.
Where can I find qualifying classes to fulfill my continuing education (CEU) requirement? 

NHDES is partnering with NHWPCA offers training courses in the spring and fall each year at the NHDES Operator Training Center in Franklin. Classes are held during the day, and typically are five hours long (0.5 CEU’s) with a one-hour lunch break. A wide variety of wastewater-related subjects are addressed during each session. Operators earn CEU’s for each class attended. Course schedules and registration materials are available from NHDES approximately four weeks in advance of the first class. Registration is on a first come, first served basis. A nominal fee is charged to cover building and administrative expenses. See the wastewater operator calendar for upcoming trainings.

In addition to courses offered by NHDES/NHWPCA, there are other pre-approved courses, such as those offered by GSRWA and NEWWTTA.

Can I earn CEUs online quickly without having to go to class?

Yes, there are a number of approved online options. Each online option has a testing requirement to validate learning. 

What if I fail to fulfill the requirements of a Certified Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator as defined by the Rules (Env-Wq 304)? 

The Rules go on to define the responsibilities of licensed operators, by defining what actions the Certification Committee may take when an operator does not comply, or the operator’s conduct caused harm or posed a substantial threat of harm to public health or the environment. In circumstances where such proof exists, the committee may suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew a certificate.

How do I get back to the Wastewater Operator Certification Page?

Return to the Wastewater Operator Page.