Drinking water operations: training and certification
How to get, renew or upgrade a drinking water operator certificate in Ontario.
Drinking water operators in Ontario test, treat and disinfect our water to ensure its safe to drink.
To work as a drinking water operator in a municipal system or a regulated non-municipal system, you must have a valid certificate.
You can find a complete set of rules related to this activity:
Types of operator certificates
There are different types of certificates you need to get to operate in different water systems. You must earn a certificate in the system you want to work in.
The higher the level of certificate, the more education and experience you need.
|Water treatment||Operator-in-Training; Classes I – IV|
|Water distribution and supply||Operator-in-Training; Classes I – IV|
|Water distribution||Classes I – IV|
|Limited supply||Surface water, limited
Some certificates allow you to operate in more than one system:
- water treatment certificates in Classes I – IV allow you to operate a water distribution and water distribution and supply system, a limited surface water system and a limited groundwater system
- water distribution and supply certificates in Classes I – IV also allow you to operate a water distribution system and a limited groundwater system
- OIT water treatment certificate allows you to operate a limited surface water or limited groundwater system under the supervision of an overall responsible operator or operator-in-charge
- OIT water distribution/water distribution and supply certificate allows you to operate a limited groundwater system under the supervision of an overall responsible operator or operator-in-charge
Become a drinking water operator
The first step to becoming a certified drinking water operator is to get your drinking water Operator-in-Training (OIT) certificate. The certificate allows new operators to gain the required one year of experience in order to become a Class I operator.
To obtain an OIT certificate, you must:
- have your Ontario Secondary School Diploma or equivalent
- pass the Operator-in-Training or Class I exam
- pay the exam and certificate fee
The certificate is valid for 36 months..
Apply for your OIT certificate
After you’ve passed your exam, you need to complete and submit an OIT Certificate and Licence Issuance form with payment to get your certificate.
Entry-Level Course for Drinking Water Operators
You must take the Entry-Level Course for Drinking Water Operators to:
- renew an expiring OIT certificate for another 36 months; or
- obtain a Class 1 certificate (see Upgrade Your Certificate for more information about additional requirements).
This 2 week course is available through the Walkerton Clean Water Centre. The course is divided into two parts:
- Part 1: 1 week correspondence, self-study — followed by a test
- Part 2: 1 week classroom training — followed by a test
The course includes, but is not limited to subjects, such as:
- protecting the health of the public
- regulations governing water quality
- disinfection and treatment
- water distribution
To register for the entry-level course contact the course administrator:
The Entry Level Course is included in the curriculum of environmental programs at some Ontario colleges.
Students who graduate from the programs are not required to take the Entry-Level Course for Drinking Water Operators.
To learn if you’re exempt, contact your college or the:
Upgrade your certificate
To become a certified Class I drinking water operator, you must:
- hold, or have previously held, an Operator-in-Training certificate
- complete the entry-level drinking water operator course
- work at least 1 year in a municipal drinking water system
- pass the applicable Class I examination
If you are a drinking water operator and you want to upgrade your existing certificate, you must meet the requirements for that certificate, including meeting examination, experience and post-secondary education requirements (depending on the Class of certificate).
For example, if you currently have a Class II certificate and want a Class III certificate, you must meet the requirements for a Class III certificate.
You can’t apply for a certificate that is more than one class above your own. For example, if you have a Class II certificate you can apply for a Class III certificate, but not a Class IV certificate.
Renew your certificate
To renew your certificate (Class I - IV), you are required to complete the Mandatory Certificate Renewal Course 2021-2023 offered by the Walkerton Clean Water Centre.
You must also:
- complete the annual continuing education and on-the-job training requirements
- have 3 months of experience in the past 3 years working as a drinking water operator — or related experience
- pay the fee
You may complete your annual training at any time during the 3 year period in which you hold a certificate. For example: if you operate in a Class 2 system, you must complete an average of 35 hours of training every year. You can complete the entire 105 hours in the first year and 0 hours in years 2 and 3.
Renew an expired certificate
If your certificate expires and you wait less than 1 year to replace it, you must:
- meet the regular requirements to renew your certificate
- pay a late renewal fee, as well as the normal renewal fee
If your certificate expires and you wait over 1 year to replace it, you must:
- meet the qualifications in Regulation 128/04 for that type of class – this includes passing the certification exam
- complete the Mandatory Certificate Renewal Course 2021-2023 (if a certificate has been expired for 10 or more years additional training may be required)
- pay a late renewal fee, as well as the regular renewal fee
Small, non-municipal drinking water operators
If you operate or perform operational tests on small or non-municipal drinking water systems specialized training and certification are available which address the needs of these types of systems.
Limited systems operators
If you hold a Limited System certificate, you can operate any of the following types of drinking water systems:
- small municipal residential systems (groundwater)
- non-municipal year-round residential systems
- large non-municipal non-residential systems serving a designated facility such as a daycare or school
- large municipal non-residential systems serving a designate facility
Operators who hold the applicable Class 1 to 4 drinking water certificates and drinking water Operators-in-Training working under the supervision of an Overall-Responsible-Operator or Operator-in-Charge, can operate limited systems as well.
If you are a ‘trained person’, you can operate drinking water systems serving designated facilities (e.g., schools or daycares) within these drinking water systems:
- small, non-municipal, non-residential system
- small, municipal, non-residential system
- non-municipal seasonal residential system
To become a trained person, you must complete and pass the Operation of Small Drinking Water Systems course.
This course is offered by the Walkerton Clean Water Centre.
To maintain the status of a Trained Person you must complete a course from the list of Director -approved courses for Trained Persons. You may also re-take the Operation of Drinking Water Systems course through the Walkerton Clean Water Centre. Visit the Ontario Water and Wastewater Certification Office website for more information.
If you are a ‘supervised person’ you can test chlorine residual and turbidity in certain drinking water systems.
These systems include:
- municipal systems
- a small residential system a small non-residential system
- serving a designated facility a large non-residential system
- serving a designated facility
- non-municipal systems
- a small non-residential system – serving a designated facility
- a large non-residential system – serving a designated facility
- a year-round residential system
- a seasonal system serving a designated facility.
To become a supervised person, you must:
- be trained by a certified drinking water operator, who documents your training
- work under the supervision of a certified drinking water operator
- immediately advise the certified drinking water operator of all test results
Certified outside Ontario
All provinces have signed the Canadian Reciprocity Agreement. This agreement allows licences and certificates to be easily transferrable from province to province.
Ontario will accept a valid certificate of a drinking water operator from another province or territory.
To have your certificate recognized in Ontario, you must:
- complete the Reciprocity Application section of the Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Application form
- submit a photocopy of the certificate you received from the other province
- pay the fee
If you hold any of these 3 certificates, you must complete the required Entry Level Course — or training considered equivalent — before being issued a Class I Ontario certificate:
- Class I Water Treatment
- Class I Water Distribution
- Class I Water Distribution and Supply
Certified outside Canada
If you hold a certificate from a jurisdiction outside of Canada please contact the Certification Office for details on obtaining an Ontario certificate.
Before you can apply to become a certified drinking water operator, you must pass a certification exam (pass is 70%).
- you can only write an exam one class higher than the class of the certificate you now hold
- you must wait a minimum of 90 days from the date you write your exam to take the next class level exam or to re-write an exam, after failure
The Ontario Water and Waste Water Certification Office administers exams and certification on behalf of the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.
Please contact the Certification Office, if you want to:
- register for an exam
- prepare for an exam (e.g. study guides and exam aids)
- write an exam
- get a list of exam dates and locations
The Certification Office will send you a letter and information about:
- the exam to be written
- date and time of the exam
- location of the exam — map included
- materials you’ll need to bring to the exam – personal photo ID and calculator
- documents you’ll need to submit to get your certificate, once you’ve passed the exam
- ministry’s Water and Wastewater Operator Certification and Exam Code of Conduct
You must also bring the following items to the exam or you will not be allowed to write it on your scheduled date:
- the confirmation letter from the Certification Office
- a signed Water and Wastewater Operator Certification and Exam Code of Conduct
- a government-issued photo ID
- a document with your address
Please include payment of any applicable fee(s) when you submit your application form.
You can pay by either:
- credit card
- cheque — payable to the “Minister of Finance”
Fees (effective January 1, 2016)
|Operator-in-training (all 4 exams; Drinking Water & Wastewater)||$50|
|Class 1-4 (Drinking Water & Wastewater)||$140|
|Drinking Water Limited Subsystem||$140|
|Water Quality Analyst||$140|
|Certificate/Licence Issuance (upgrade)||Fee|
|Drinking Water Operator-in-Training||$40|
|Class 1-4 (Drinking Water & Wastewater)||$175|
|Drinking Water Limited Subsystem||$150|
|Water Quality Analyst||$175|
|Drinking Water Operator-in-Training||$145|
|Class 1-4 (Drinking Water)||$145|
|Class 1-4 (Wastewater)||$145|
|Drinking Water Limited Subsystem||$145|
|Water Quality Analyst||$145|
|Certificate/Licence - Late Renewal||Fee|
|Class 1-4 (Drinking Water)||$25|
|Class 1-4 (Wastewater)||$25|
|Drinking Water Limited Subsystem||$25|
|Water Quality Analyst||$25|
|Certificate/Licence Replacement Certificate||Fee|
|All certificates and licences||$75|
|Drinking Water Systems||$475|
*Paid by owner
|Drinking Water Courses||$175|
|Drinking Water Courses||$125|
**Paid by course provider