Part 5, Subpart 5-4 Classification And Certification Of Community And Nontransient Noncommunity Water System Operators

Notice

The information contained on this website is not the official version of the Compilation of the Rules and Regulations of the State of New York (NYCRR). No representation is made as to its accuracy. To ensure accuracy and for evidentiary purposes, reference should be made to the Official Compilation of the Rules and Regulations of the State of New York, available from West Publishing at 1-800-344-5009.

Chapter I State Sanitary Code

Part 5
Drinking Water Supplies
(Statutory Authority: Public Health Law §225)

February 14, 2001

New York State Department Of Health
Bureau of Public Water Supply Protection
Corning Tower, Room 1110
Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12237
Tel.: (518) 402-7650

Section

5-4.1: Definitions

As used in this Subpart, the following words and terms shall have the stated meanings except as otherwise provided:

  • (a) Available means a certified operator must be on site or able to be contacted within one hour to initiate the appropriate action.
  • (b) Clarification means a treatment process that includes rapid mix, flocculation and sedimentation.
  • (c) Community water system (CWS) means a public water system which serves at least five service connections used by year-round residents or regularly serves at least 25 year round residents.
  • (d) Continuing education unit (CEU) means 10 hours of personal participation in an organized continuing education course, training meeting, workshop, etc. approved by the New York State Department of Health.
  • (e) Department means the New York State Department of Health.
  • (f) Distribution system means any combination of pipes, tanks, etc. which delivers potable water from the source(s) and/or treatment plant(s) to the consumer's service connection.
  • (g) Distribution system operator means the certified person in responsible charge of the operation and maintenance of the distribution system at a community water system or a nontransient noncommunity water system.
  • (h) Dwelling unit means one or more rooms with provisions for living, sanitary and sleeping facilities arranged for the use of one family.
  • (i) Filtration means the process for removing particulate matter from water by the passage through porous materials or other processes determined to be acceptable under the provisions of section 5-1.22 of this Part.
  • (j) Grandparenting means an exemption for the existing system operator(s) in responsible charge, effective February 14, 2001, from meeting the initial education and/or examination requirements for the class of certification the system requires.
  • (k) Ground water directly influenced by surface water means any water beneath the surface of the ground which exhibits water characteristics such as turbidity, temperature, conductivity or pH that closely correlates to climatological or surface water conditions and/or which contain significant occurrence of macroorganisms, algae, organic debris, large-diameter pathogens, or insect parts of a surface water origin.
  • (l) Ground water source means a source of water supply taken from a ground water aquifer and developed in accordance with section 5-1.22 of this Part, but shall not include an admixture of surface water or water exposed to the ground surface.
  • (m) Noncommunity water system (NCWS) means a public water system that is not a community water system.
  • (n) Nontransient noncommunity water system (NTNC) means a public water system that is not a community water system but is a subset of a noncommunity water system that regularly serves at least 25 of the same persons, four hours or more per day, for four or more days per week, for 26 or more weeks per year.
  • (o) Operating experience means the time spent working at a water treatment plant in the satisfactory performance of operational duties or working on a distribution system in the satisfactory performance of operational and maintenance duties. Water plant design experience does not qualify as operating experience.
  • (p) Operation means the time during which the system (water treatment plant and/or distribution system) is functioning with the intent to produce potable water for human consumption.
  • (q) Operator in responsible charge means the person(s) designated by the owner of the system to be the certified water treatment operator(s) who makes decisions regarding the daily operational activities of a public water system, water treatment facility and/or distribution system that will directly impact the quality and/or quantity of drinking water.
  • (r) Public water system means either a community or noncommunity water system which provides piped water to the public for human consumption, if such system has at least five service connections or regularly serves an average of at least 25 individuals at least 60 days out of the year. Such term includes:
    • (1) collection, treatment, storage and distribution facilities under control of the supplier of water of such system and used with such system; and
    • (2) collection or pretreatment storage facilities not under such control which are used with such system.
  • (s) Purchasing water system means a distribution system which purchases all or part of its water from another system, and which is wholly or partially outside of the normal service area or political jurisdiction of the other system, and neither provides additional treatment nor sells water to another system(s).
  • (t) Service connection means the pertinent pipes, valves and fittings that connect a distribution system to a consumer's facility.
  • (u) State means the State Commissioner of Health, or his/her designated representative.
  • (v) Surface water means all water open to the atmosphere and subject to surface runoff.
  • (w) Validated examination means an exam that is independently reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure that the exam is based on job analysis and related to the classification of the system or facility.
  • (x) Water treatment operator means the certified person responsible for the operation of the water treatment plant at a community or a nontransient noncommunity water system.
  • (y) Water treatment assistant operator means a person who, under the direction of a certified water treatment operator in responsible charge, is involved in the day to day operation of a water treatment plant or a major segment of a water treatment plant at a community water system or nontransient noncommunity water system.
  • (z) Water treatment plant means any plant or equipment which, through the addition of chemicals or through granular activated carbon, aeration, ion exchange, demineralization, coagulation, sedimentation or filtration, or through any other means or combinations of treatment, shall change the physical, chemical, radiological or microbiological quality of water.

5-4.2: Certification Required

  • (a) Certification Required
    • (1) Sections 5-4.1 through 5-4.8 shall be applicable to all CWS and NTNC, provided the system serves 15 or more service connections or serves 25 or more persons.
    • (2) Owners of all CWS and NTNC are required to place the direct supervision of their water system, including each treatment plant and/or the distribution system, under the responsible charge of a water treatment operator(s) holding a valid certification equal to or greater than that required for the classification of the treatment plant and/or distribution system as set forth below in Table 5-4.2. (Population figures will be based on an average of four residents per dwelling unit, unless otherwise demonstrated by the supplier of water.) The owner is required to indicate to the State, within three months of the effective date of this regulation, who the operator(s) in responsible charge is for their facility. If this designation changes, the owner is required to submit written notification to the State within a period not to exceed one month with the information regarding the new operator(s) in responsible charge.
    • (3) All operating personnel making process control/system integrity decisions about water quality or quantity that effect public health must be appropriately certified as set forth below and be under the direction of an operator in responsible charge.
    • (4) A designated certified operator must be available during plant operation.
    • (5) The only grades certified to operate distribution systems are Grade C for a distribution system that serves 1,000 people or less and Grade D for distribution systems that serve greater than 1,000 people and/or purchasing water systems with responsibility for distribution of water only.
  • (b) Certification Procedures
    • (1) Any person seeking certification shall submit an application on a form prescribed by the Department including all of the information outlined in section 5-4.3. Upon approval, the Department will issue a certificate that specifies the operator grade consistent with the operator's qualifications as outlined in Table 5-4.3.
    • (2) Certificates shall be valid for a period of three years unless revoked by the Department prior to that time.
    • (3) Upon issuance of a certificate, the certified operator must inform the department, within 30 days, of any changes in address or employment.

Table 5-4.2: Plant Classification/Operator Requirements

All water treatment processes must be in accordance with the acceptable methods of treatment outlined in sections 5-1.22 and 5-1.30 of this Part.

Plant type System complexity System classification Required minimum grade Operator/
Assistant operator
Water treatment plant with facilities for filtration which is designed to treat over 2.5 MGD (million gallons per day) Surface water or ground water systems under the direct influence of surface water that provides filtration. IA IA
IIA
Water treatment plant with facilities for filtration which is designed to treat 2.5 MGD or less Surface water or ground water systems under the direct influence of surface water that provides filtration. IIA IIA
IIA
Water treatment plant which is designed to treat over 2.5 MGD Groundwater (excluding ground water under the direct influence of surface water) or Surface water systems with filtration avoidance without facilities for clarification. IB IB
IIB
Water treatment plant which is designed to treat 2.5 MGD or less Groundwater (excluding ground water under the direct influence of surface water) or Surface water systems with filtration avoidance without facilities for clarification. IIB IIB
C
Water treatment plant and/or distribution system that is designed to serve 1,000 people or less Systems with facilities for basic treatment (including bag, cartridge, pressure and/or other basic filtration as outlined in sections 5-1.22 and 5- 1.30 of this Part), and/or pressure zones, booster stations, storage tanks, fire protection, disinfection, nonresidential consumers, cross-connection potential, demand variations, etc. C C
none required
Distribution system serving greater than 1,000 people and/or purchasing water system. Pressure zones, booster stations, storage tanks, fire protection, disinfection, non-residential consumers, crossconnection potential, demand variations, etc. D D
none required

5-4.3: Qualifications Required

  • (a) Preliminary Qualifications
    • (1) An applicant for certification as a water treatment operator, water treatment assistant operator or distribution system operator must satisfactorily complete training courses or demonstrate equivalent training, education, experience, and take and pass a validated examination, under the requirements of section 5-4.4 and section 5-4.5 of this Subpart.
    • (2) An applicant for certification as a water treatment operator or water treatment assistant operator must be able to demonstrate the ability to make all operational and water quality tests necessary for the operation of a water treatment plant, such as, but not limited to, chlorine residual, color, pH, turbidity, bacteriological sampling techniques and fluoride when fluoridation is provided.
  • (b) Required Experience and Education/Training. Table 5-4.3 provides the requisite experience, education, training, and examination for each grade of water treatment operator, water treatment assistant operator and distribution system operator.

Table 5-4.3: Required Experience, Education, Training and Examination

Grade Experience Education Training and Examination
IA Ten years of operating experience; with at least one year operating experience at a grade IA water treatment plant and one year at a minimum of a grade IIA water treatment plant. Minimum of a High school diploma or New York State Equivalency Diploma.
  • Grade I Course - Minimum 60 Hours
  • Grade A Course - Minimum 60 Hours
  • Validated examination for grade IA as outlined in section 5-4.5
  • And/or the requirements of section 5-4.4 of this Subpart.
IIA One year of operating experience at a water treatment plant with facilities for filtration. Minimum of a High school diploma or New York State Equivalency Diploma.
  • Grade A Course - Minimum 60 Hours
  • Validated examination for grade IIA as outlined in section 5-4.5
  • And/or the requirements of section 5-4.4 of this Subpart.
IB Ten years of operating experience at a water treatment plant, with two years operating experience at a minimum of a grade B water treatment plant. Minimum of a High school diploma or New York State Equivalency Diploma.
  • Grade 1 Course - Minimum 60 Hours
  • Grade B Course - Minimum 30 Hours
  • Validated examination for grade IB as outlined in section 5-4.5
  • And/or the requirements of section 5-4.4 of this Subpart.
IIB One year of operating experience at a water treatment plant. Minimum of a High school diploma or New York State Equivalency Diploma.
  • Grade B Course - Minimum 30 Hours
  • Validated examination for grade IIB as outlined in section 5-4.5
  • And/or the requirements of section 5-4.4 of this Subpart.
C Six months of operating experience at a minimum of a grade C water treatment plant. Minimum of a High school diploma or New York State Equivalency Diploma.
  • Grade C Course - Minimum 18 Hours
  • Validated examination for grade C as outlined in section 5-4.5
  • And/or the requirements of section 5-4.4 of this Subpart.
D One year of operating and maintenance experience in a distribution system serving 1,000 people or more. Minimum of a High school diploma or New York State Equivalency Diploma.
  • Grade D Course - Minimum 15 Hours
  • Validated examination for grade D as outlined in section 5-4.5
  • And/or the requirements of section 5-4.4 of this Subpart.
  • (1) The Department will require proof of education to be submitted with the initial application. This proof will include;
    • (i) A copy of the high school diploma, or general equivalency diploma, and/or
    • (ii) A copy of a college diploma and transcripts duly signed, notarized or sealed by the individual that has the authority to issue such transcripts must be submitted for all education, experience, and/or training substitutions as outlined in section 5-4.4 of this Subpart.

5-4.4: Education, Experience, and/or Training Substitutions

The Department will allow education, experience and/or training substitutions in lieu of the requirements outlined in section 5.4.3(b). Experience that is used to meet the experience requirement for any grade of certification may not be substituted for education. Education that is used to meet the education requirement for any grade of certification may not be substituted for experience. Experience and education may not be used more than once as a substitution. The following substitutions may be accepted:

  • (a) A New York State professional engineer's license, or a bachelor's degree in engineering, natural science or a related field from an accredited or New York State registered college or university, may be substituted for eight years of experience. A minimum of two years operating experience, at the level described in Table 5-4.3, must be obtained if this substitution is used.
  • (b) An associate degree in applied science, with at least a one semester course in water treatment plant operations, from an accredited or New York State registered college or university, may be substituted for six years of experience. A minimum of two years (four years for Grade(s) IA and IB) operating experience, at the level described in Table 5-4.3, must be obtained if this substitution is used.
  • (c) An associate degree in applied science, from an accredited or New York State registered college or university, may be substituted for four years of experience. A minimum of two years (six years for Grade(s) IA and IB) operating experience, at the level described in Table 5-4.3, must be obtained if this substitution is used.
  • (d) Experience and/or relevant training may be substituted for a high school diploma or GED for grades C and D.

5-4.5: Validated Examinations

The department will require any person applying for certification as a water treatment operator, water treatment assistant operator or distribution system operator to take a written, oral and/or practical skills validated examination to determine the applicant's skills, knowledge, ability and judgement. The results of the examination, and the requirements of section 5-4.3 and/or 5-4.4 of this Subpart, will serve as the basis for approval or disapproval of such application.

5-4.6: Grandparenting

  • (a) Water systems which will be required to have an operator for the first time because of the requirements of Subpart 5-4 dated February 5, 2001, may be granted a transition period to continue to retain their currently employed operators in responsible charge through grandparenting. Grandparenting will be based on factors such as system compliance history, operator experience and knowledge, system complexity, and level of treatment.
  • (b) Grandparenting is permitted only to existing operator(s) in responsible charge of existing systems. Operators that are New York State Department of Health certified before February 5, 2001 will retain his/her certification as originally granted.
  • (c) The system owner must apply for grandparenting for the operator(s) in responsible charge within two years of the effective date of this regulation or by February 5, 2003. Applications must be submitted to the department on forms prescribed by the department. Applications will be approved based on system compliance history, operator experience and knowledge, system complexity, and level of treatment. Upon approval, the operator in responsible charge will be grandparented.
  • (d) The certification for grandparented operators will be sitespecific and non-transferable to other operators.
  • (e) Each grandparented operator must meet the renewal requirements outlined in section 5-4.8 no later than three years after his/her effective date of certification for grandparenting.
  • (f) The certification for a grandparented operator will no longer be valid if the classification of the plant or distribution system changes to a higher level.
  • (g) Grandparented operators that choose to work for a different water system must meet the initial certification requirements for that system.

5-4.7: Enforcement

  • (a) Upon notice and opportunity of a hearing, the Department may suspend or revoke a certificate of an operator. Revocation or suspension will be based on fraud or misrepresentation by the certified operator; gross incompetence or gross negligence on a particular occasion or negligence or incompetence on more than one occasion; or mental or physical incapacity of the operator to perform his or her operating duties.
    • (1) Suspension of Certificate
      • (i) Grounds for Suspension - A suspendable offense may include but is not limited to:
        • (a) Selective Sampling - Operator intentionally alters sampling period, in an attempt to collect samples that are not truly representative.
        • (b) Sabotage of Equipment - Intentional misuse or impairment of equipment necessary to maintain treatment and/or distribution.
        • (c) Bribery or Extortion - Operator accepts or offers bribes related to plant operations or uses his/her position as an operator to extort money or services from others.
        • (d) Dangerous Acts - Failure to take appropriate actions necessary to provide a safe and healthful workplace or directs staff to perform activities without proper safety equipment or training.
        • (e) Misleads - Operator gives misleading statements to government officials relative to the operation of the treatment facilities and/or distribution system.
        • (f) Lack of Maintenance - Failure to maintain the treatment facilities and/or distribution system to an acceptable level despite having the resources and the means to properly maintain the facility and/or distribution system.
        • (g) Lack of Process Control - Failure to utilize knowledge of process control techniques to optimize the operation of the treatment facility.
        • (h) Unauthorized Modification of a Facility and/or Distribution System - Failure to contact the State and obtain approval when any modification of the facility and/or distribution system is made.
      • (ii) Suspension Term - A suspension term will last for a period not to exceed three years and will be based on factors such as: number of acts committed, degree of physical or environmental harm resulting from acts, degree of cooperation and other relevant information. Three suspensions in any three-year period, time period starting with the effective date of the first suspension, will result in an automatic revocation.
      • (iii) Conditions of Reinstatement - A certificate may be reinstated upon request from the suspended operator after the operator serves his/her suspension period and has completed necessary training and/or other suspension conditions prescribed by the State.
    • (2) Revocation of Certificate
      • (i) Grounds for Revocation - A revocable offense may include but is not limited to:
        • (a) Falsifying Reports - Making false statements or notations on legal or official records required by the Department.
        • (b) Illegal Bypassing - Bypassing the entire treatment facility and sending untreated water to the distribution system, without prior approval by the State.
        • (c) Sample Tampering - Knowingly collecting, preparing, or analyzing a sample that will yield results that are not representative of the actual water quality.
        • (d) Coercion - The operator uses his/her position to force another employee to undertake an inappropriate or illegal act relating to treatment plant operation and/or distribution system.
        • (e) Plant Related Criminal or Civil Charges - The operator pleads or is found guilty of criminal or civil charges related to the operation of the treatment facility and/or distribution system.
        • (f) Equipment Damage and Harm to Public - The operator operates the facility in such a manner as to cause harm to equipment or the public that the operator had reasonably available means to avoid.
      • (ii) Condition of reinstatement - A certificate may be reinstated upon request from the revoked operator after the operator serves his/her revocation period and has met the requirements outlined in sections 5-4.3, 5-4.5, and other revocation conditions prescribed by the department.

5-4.8: Renewal/Recertification Requirements

  • (a) Renewal Requirements
    • (1) A request for renewal of a certificate must be submitted, by each operator, to the department, on a form prescribed by the department, at least one month before the certificate expiration date. All operators will have a fixed renewal cycle of three years.
    • (2) All renewal requests from grandparented operators may be approved after the operator has completed the required renewal training, as set forth below in Table 5-4.8; satisfactorily operated his/her facility during each three-year grandparenting period; and all other renewal conditions prescribed by the Department.
    • (3) To qualify for renewal, a grade A, B, C, or D water treatment operator, water treatment assistant operator, or distribution system operator must have successfully completed the following equivalent Continuing Education Unit (CEU) training requirements, as set forth below in Table 5-4.8, within the previous three years. All renewal training courses must be approved by the Department.
    • (4) The Department may require any person applying for renewal of certification as a water treatment operator, water treatment assistant operator or distribution system operator to take a written, oral and/or practical skills validated examination to determine the applicant's skills, knowledge, ability and judgement. The results of the examination, and the requirements of section 5-4.8, will serve as the basis for approval or disapproval of such application.
    • (5) If dual certification is held, then the operator must obtain the number of CEU's corresponding to the highest grade of certification held, as outlined in Table 5-4.8.
  • (b) Recertification Requirements
    • (1) An individual that allows his or her certification renewal to lapse after the expiration date is no longer certified to operate a water treatment plant and/or distribution system. When the individual meets the requirements outlined in section 5-4.8(a), the certification will be reinstated.
    • (2) An individual who allows his or her certification renewal to lapse, for more than one year, will be required to repeat the type and amount of experience, training and validated examination as contained in sections 5-4.3(b) and 5-4.5 of this Subpart.

Table 5-4.8: Renewal Requirements

Grade CEU Equivalent Type of Training
IA and IIA 3.0
  • .5 CEU's required from a laboratory course
  • Remaining 2.5 CEU's must come from the following list of acceptable training:
    • Science of Water
    • Source water protection
    • Mathematics
    • Treatment
    • Operation & Maintenance
    • Regulations
    • Safety
IB and IIB 3.0
  • All CEU's must come from the following list of acceptable training:
    • Laboratory
    • Science of Water
    • Source water protection
    • Mathematics
    • Treatment
    • Operation & Maintenance
    • Regulations
    • Safety
C 1.5
  • All CEU's must come from the following list of acceptable training:
    • Laboratory
    • Science of Water
    • Source water protection
    • Mathematics
    • Treatment
    • Operation & Maintenance
    • Distribution Systems
    • Regulations
    • Safety
D 1.5
  • The following is a list of acceptable training:
    • Distribution Systems
    • Mathematics
    • Operation & Maintenance
    • Regulations
    • Safety