Training requirements for drinking water operators
How to renew a Drinking Water Operator and Water Quality Analyst certificate under Ontario Regulation 128/04 and information on the certificate renewal process.
On this page Skip this page navigation
© Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2015
Ce document est disponible en français
For more information on this report, please contact the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change’s Public Information Centre
Toll free: 1-800-565-4923
In the GTA: 416-325-4000
Website: Drinking water section on Ontario’s website
Important: It may be useful to read this guide together with the Ontario Regulation 128/04. This resource is to be used for guidance purposes only. It is intended to explain the training requirements for renewal of a Drinking Water and Water Quality Analyst certificate under Ontario Regulation 128/04. It also provides information on the certificate renewal process. Training providers can find further guidance on approval of Continuing Education in Guideline 4.4 'Director Approved Continuing Education Guide for Training Providers'.
This guide should not be considered legal advice. In the event of a conflict between this guide and the requirements of the legislation, the legislation shall govern.
Part A: information on certification and training requirements
Drinking water operator certificates and water quality analyst
footnote 2 is due to expire. What are you required to do?
- A renewal notice will be sent to you three months prior to your certificate expiry. Read your renewal notice to determine if you are required to submit training documentation.
- Check your expiry date. Your renewal application should be submitted at least one month prior to the expiry date.
- Verify three months of direct or related experience (to be signed by your supervisor).
- If requested on your renewal notice, provide a summary of your training completed during the previous three years.
- Submit your renewal fee.
Your training must be completed during the three year duration of a certificate ("certificate period") from the date your certificate was issued to the expiry date printed on the certificate. Training may be completed at any time during the three year certificate period. For example, you may obtain training throughout the term of the certificate or in only one year of the period.
If you complete more training than is required in a certificate period, the excess training may not be used for the next renewal cycle. Likewise, training completed after you submit your application for renewal but before the expiry of your certificate may not be used for the next renewal cycle.
What training am I required to complete?
The number of hours which must be completed during a certificate period is based on the highest class of drinking water system which you operate. If you do not operate a drinking water system, the required hours of training are based on the highest class of certificate you hold. See Table A for a summary of the hours of training that are required.
|Highest Class of System You Operate||Continuing Education||On-the-Job Practical Training||Total Hours (During the Three Year Period)|
|Limited Groundwater or Surface Water||21||39||60|
|Water Quality Analyst||21||39||60|
To renew a certificate you are required to complete three types of training:
- The Mandatory Renewal Course;
- Continuing Education; and
- On-the-job Practical Training.
1. Mandatory Renewal Course
The Mandatory Renewal Course must be completed during the term of the certificate. This course is offered through the Walkerton Clean Water Centre and covers topics on the latest trends and issues in the drinking water industry. The course is revised once every three years.
The Mandatory Renewal Course is seven (7) hours in duration. These hours may be used to meet your Continuing Education requirement.
2. Continuing Education
Continuing Education consists of formal training which has been approved by the authorized ministry Director under O. Reg. 128/04. A list of approved training may be found on the operator certification Program Administrator’s website. Only courses on the approved list can be used to meet the Continuing Education requirements
Rules for Continuing Education
- The seven hours obtained by completing the mandatory renewal course may be used to meet the Continuing Education requirement.
- Only training completed during the term of the certificate may be used. Any training completed prior to obtaining a certificate cannot be used.
- Conferences sponsored by the Ontario Water Works Association, Ontario Municipal Water Association, Aboriginal Water Wastewater Association of Ontario and the American Water Works Association which are on the approved list may be used to meet up to 25 per cent of the Continuing Education requirement (See Table B). Any hours in excess of the 25 per cent may be applied to the On-the-job Practical Training requirement. For example, if you attended 15 hours of conferences and work in a Class III system, you may apply 10 hours to Continuing Education and 5 hours to On-the-job Practical Training.
- Course hours are rounded down to the nearest full hour. For example, if training is 4.5 hours in duration, the course would be credited with 4 hours of Continuing Education.
- Courses are credited a maximum of seven hours per day.
- In order to claim hours for a Continuing Education course you must have successfully passed the course.
- The same course may only be used once in any three year certificate period.
Some courses may indicate the length of the course as a Continuing Education Unit (CEU). Generally, one CEU equals 10 hours of classroom instruction or 10 hours of Continuing Education.
|Class of System You Operate||Total Hours of Continuing Education Required (During Three Year Period)||Total Hours of Approved Conferences Allowed (During Three Year Period)|
|Limited Groundwater or Surface Water||21||5|
|Water Quality Analyst||21||5|
3. On-the-job Practical Training
On-the-job Practical Training is not pre-approved by the Director. Generally, this type of training would include:
- formal training which has not been approved as Continuing Education; or
- structured learning received in the workplace.
In order for a learning event to be considered On-the-job Practical Training, it must meet the following criteria:
- Be a structured learning event involving contact between the learner and instructor. Contact implies two-way communication, such as the instructor:
- providing feedback to the participant in the form of answers to questions
- providing comments on participant’s demonstration of learning
- monitoring the learner’s progress
- Have documented learning objectives that state what learners will know and/or be able to do as a result of taking the training
- Be delivered by a trainer with expertise in the subject matter. A trainer is considered to have expertise in the subject matter if he or she has obtained:
- formal education on the subject matter,
- specific training on the subject matter, or
- at least three years direct experience on the subject matter.
- Be on a subject directly related to the duties typically performed by an operator. See page 11 and 12 for a list of approved topics, see page 13 for a list of topics that are not acceptable for On-the-job Practical Training.
|Same as above plus:||Same as above except where noted in the "Accepted" column.|
Rules for On-the-job Practical Training
- If an exam or test is included, the participant must pass the exam or test to be able to count the hours.
- Excess Continuing Education hours may be used to meet the On-the-job Practical Training requirements, without limit.
- A maximum of seven hours of training may be counted per day. Some exceptions may apply - contact the Program Administrator for details.
- Hours are rounded down to the nearest quarter hour.
- The same course may only be used once in any three year certificate period.
- The number of hours claimed must be consistent with the training record or documentation provided for the course unless the portions of the course are not being claimed or are not applicable. For example, if a training record states a training course is six hours you may not claim seven hours.
For a training course to be eligible for On-the-job Practical Training, you must provide the following information with your renewal application (see Appendix A for a training summary template):
- Date of training session;
- Topic(s) of Training / Course name if applicable;
- Name of training provider (name of the organization or instructor);
- Course duration (in hours or Continuing Education Units);
- Telephone number of training provider (if the instructor is not an employee of the operating authority).
The summary must be signed by either a(n):
- Overall Responsible Operator (ORO);
- Authorized designate of ORO;
- Manager or Supervisor of ORO; or
- Training coordinator if authorized by the ORO to do so.
In addition, the employer is required to maintain additional information for at least 5 years (see Table D on page 14).
Topics accepted for On-the-job Practical Training:
Treatment and distribution
- Operation of drinking water systems
- Drinking water treatment processes, equipment
- Distribution system maintenance (flushing, cleaning, tapping, repair)
- Leak detection
- Water storage
- Pump operation/pumping station operation
Regulatory/health and safety
- Act, regulations, policies, standards and guidelines governing Ontario’s drinking water systems
- MOECC standards, policies and procedures related to drinking water
- Health and safety directly related to the duties of an operator
- AWWA, Ontario or site specific standards or operating procedures
- Chemistry, physics and other applied sciences related to the operation of a drinking water system
- Water quality
- Microbiology/drinking water pathogens
- Sampling and laboratory techniques
- Source water protection
- Disinfection (theory, practice, equipment, chemicals)
- Applied engineering related to drinking water treatment or distribution
- Applied mathematics
- Well operation and hydrogeology
- Drinking water equipment maintenance/preventative maintenance
- SCADA and process control
- Computer programs directly related to drinking water systems
- Cross connection control
- Backflow prevention
- Residuals management
Management of systems
- Training on system’s DWQMS (but not work to develop the DWQMS)
- Professional effectiveness training including conflict management, problem solving, effective communication, and risk management decision making which can be directly related to the duties of a drinking water operator
- Management of drinking water system
- Management/supervision of water system staff
- Emergency management
- System security
- Customer relations/communications
- Professional responsibility of an operator
Other topics approved by the Director
Topics not accepted for On-the-job Practical Training
- Operation of wastewater facilities and storm water systems,
- Generic computer training (word processing etc.),
- Health and safety not directly related to the duties of an operator
- General human resources or corporate policy,
- Other topics not directly related to the duties typically performed of a drinking water operator or water quality analyst.
Credit for trainers, instructors and presenters
You may receive hours of training for teaching or instructing Continuing Education or On-the-job Practical Training.
The following types of activities may be eligible for training hours:
- Presenting in a classroom, conference, workshop or seminar
- Presenting in a webinar
- Developing on-line course material
If you teach the same course more than once during a certificate period, you may only claim the hours for that course once. The number of hours you will be credited is equal to the number of hours of instruction participants receive. For example, if a course is 35 hours in duration and an operator delivers a 15 hour section of the course, only 15 hours may be claimed. Preparation time prior to instructing cannot be claimed.
Development of on-line learning modules will be credited at the same number of hours it takes for a participant to complete the on-line module. Writing articles for trade magazines or journals cannot be accepted towards meeting your training requirements.
A renewal notice will be sent to operators three months prior to expiry. It is your responsibility to ensure that your address on file is current. If you have not received a renewal notice, please contact the Program Administrator.
When submitting an application for renewal, ensure that you have the required number of hours of training. Applications without sufficient training will not be processed.
What to submit
Continuing Education: Submit a course certificate or a signed letter from the training provider verifying successful completion of the course. The certificate/letter must include the course name, duration (in hours or Continuing Education Units), date of course and name of the training provider.
Some municipalities have an agreement with the ministry which allows applicants to submit a summary of their training in place of copies of course certificates. Your supervisor or training coordinator will have further details if this applies to your municipality.
On-the-job Practical Training: Submit a summary sheet signed by your supervisor or training coordinator. The summary sheet must include the date of the training, subjects covered, training provider/instructor’s name and the number of training hours.
Multiple Certificate Holders: If you hold more than one drinking water certificate, your training may not be checked each time you renew. For example, if you hold a Class I water treatment certificate and a Class II water distribution certificate, training will only be checked upon expiry of one of the certificates.
Your renewal notice will state if training records are required with your submission. You may also contact the Program Administrator to determine the next time your training will be verified.
What to keep on file
Records of On-the-job Practical Training must be kept on file for five years from the date of training. It is recommended that Continuing Education course certificates be kept until you no longer hold an operator certificate.
|Type of Training||What to Submit||What to Keep on File|
|Mandatory Renewal Course|
If you taught or instructed a course:
|On-the-Job Practical Training||Summary of completed training including:||Same as listed to the left plus: Method of training used Information confirming trainer has expertise in the subject Learning objectives|
What to do if you have not met your training requirements
If you have not completed the required training and have a valid reason (as outlined below), you may submit a letter to the Director (c/o of the Program Administrator) requesting a renewal of your certificate under Section 7(6) of Ontario Regulation 128/04. The Director may issue a certificate for up to six months, to give you more time to complete the required training, if they are satisfied you will do so within that period.
You must submit a letter identifying the reasons why you were unable to obtain the required training. Your supervisor is required to co-sign the letter.
The reasons the Director may accept include:
- extended illness (must be documented by a physician)
- severe operational issues which resulted in planned training being cancelled or postponed
- scheduled training was cancelled by the training provider
- submitted on-the-job practical training was not accepted
- operator was on an extended leave of absence during the last year of the certificate
- other reasons as approved by the Director
Poor record keeping or failure to plan the required training are not considered valid reasons for failing to complete the training. Operators who are unable to renew their certificate will not be legally allowed to continue to operate a drinking water system upon expiry of their certificate.
To request issuance of a 7(6) temporary certificate, submit the following:
- A renewal application form;
- All applicable training records;
- A letter signed by yourself and your supervisor requesting that a 7(6) certificate be issued; and
- Include in your letter the reason(s) for failing to complete the required training.
If your drinking water certificate is expired for less than one year, you may renew it by paying the applicable late fee and submitting the required training and experience verification. If your certificate has been expired for more than one year, you will need to meet the qualifications for the certificate which will include rewriting the exam if you wrote it more than 5 years ago. Depending on your individual circumstances you may be required to restart your certificate at a Class I level.
If you have been on long-term disability leave and are returning to work, please contact the Program Administrator. The ministry will take into consideration your situation and issue a conditional certificate if appropriate.
Part B: information for training providers
All Continuing Education courses must be pre-approved by the Director. Guideline 4.4 includes the criteria that must be met for Director approval of Continuing Education and explains how to submit an application for course approval.
Training providers shall not state or imply that the ministry endorses or approves the content of a course which has been approved.
Training providers may only advertise that a course has been approved after they have received confirmation from the Director.
Uploading participant completion into the ministry’s Water/Wastewater Operator Certification System (WWOCS) is a requirement of continual approval. Course providers who do not upload results in a timely manner may have their approved courses removed from the course listing.
Course providers must maintain a policy regarding successful course completion which includes criteria for testing a participant’s mastery of the material and attendance requirements.
There is no pre-approval process for On-the-job Practical Training.
- footnote Back to paragraph For the purposes of this guide a reference to a "drinking water certificate" or "certificate" means a Class I-IV drinking water treatment, drinking water distribution, drinking water distribution and supply, limited groundwater system, limited surface water system or water quality analyst certificate unless otherwise specified.
- footnote Back to paragraph Renewal of Operator-in-Training certificates is not covered in this document. For more information contact the Program Administrator.
- footnote Back to paragraph If you are not employed in a drinking water system when applying to renew your certificate your training hours are based on the highest level of certificate you hold.
- footnote Back to paragraph Drinking water related courses completed as part of a degree or diploma program from an Ontario university or community college may be accepted as Continuing Education..
- footnote Back to paragraph Excess hours may be applied to On-the-job Practical Training requirements.