- Build public trust in Advanced Water Treatment Operators
- Fulfill the call by the California Urban Water Agencies (CUWA) white paper on AWT Operator certification
- Address the California State Water Board's Expert Panel findings on Indirect and Direct Potable Reuse barriers, namely answering their recommendation to develop AWT operator certification
- Maximize wastewater reuse and other challenging source waters
The AWT Operator Certification Committee formed three years ago to develop a voluntary certification program as part of the CA-NV AWWA offerings. The California Water Environment Association (CWEA) joined the effort, and together we are building a world-class AWT Operator certification program.
AWT Operators protect public health by ensuring a supply of safe and high-quality drinking water from advanced water reuse facilities.
The AWT3™ understands AWT processes and the impact of feed water quality on production and finished water quality. The AWT3 operates, monitors, and maintains AWT processes, such as membrane systems and advanced oxidation.
The AWT4™ has an advanced understanding of the AWT processes.
The AWT5™ has an advanced understanding of the regulations pertinent to the end uses of treated water, such as recycled water, potable water, and potable water reuse. The AWT5 maintains regular communication with regulatory agencies and ensures permit compliance. The AWT5 has responsibility for preparing and submitting regulatory reports. The AWT5 has an advanced understanding of the AWT processes.
All CA and NV drinking water and wastewater treatment operators with a grade 3 or above will start the AWTO certification program at the AWT3 grade level. Operators may progress up the AWTO certification grades independently of their state treatment operator certifications.
The minimum qualifications are:
- AWT3™ – Currently hold a California or Nevada Grade 3 certification for Wastewater Treatment Operator or Water Treatment Operator
- AWT4™ – pass the Grade 3 exam
- AWT5™ – pass the Grade 4 exam
The AWTO certification recognizes operators will also have the appropriate State certification for their position and the AWTO is an optional, add-on certification.
Yes, some water agencies may require AWTO certification for employment and promotions.
California's Water Resources Control Board staff have requested several water agencies with Advanced Water Treatment Facilities employ staff members with an advanced certification. Certified operators demonstrate the technical capacity requirements of Title 22 §60320.100, General Requirements. In 2018 there were 6 AWTF facilities with more in the permitting process.
The California-Nevada Section of the American Water Works Association (CA-NV AWWA) and the California Water Environment Association (CWEA) are jointly developing this certification program.
The AWTO certification was championed, supported and developed by water professionals for water professionals.
The program was funded and supported by 11 founding agencies and 5 associations. The associations include CA-NV AWWA, CWEA, WateReuse, CUWA, WEF and AWWA.
The AWTO Certification Committee is led by:
Toby Roy, Chair, (retired) San Diego County Water Authority
Erin Mackey, Secretary, Brown & Caldwell
The Committee has 4 work groups:
- Examination development
- Education development
- Legislative and regulatory changes
- Communications and outreach
If you would like to volunteer for the AWTO Certification Committee, please contact us.
They do and those certifications are required if you want to work at a drinking water, resource recovery or water reuse facility.
However, water industry experts, associations and regulatory agencies agree that the current treatment operator exams are not sufficient. The existing water and wastewater treatment operator exams do not cover advanced water treatment or potable reuse-specific regulations and concerns.
A majority of water and wastewater professionals have said they support the development of this certification. 70% of respondents to a WateReuse poll of water professionals agreed one certification process should be used for AWT Operators (WateReuse report, 2016).
In 2017, the associations CA-NV AWWA, CWEA, WateReuse California and CUWA all agreed a new treatment operator certification is needed. The AWTO certification program kicked off.
A formula aid will be available at the testing center for candidates to use during the AWT3 exam. The sheet is based upon the version used during CA State operator exams.