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Introduction to Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification

What Is Certification?

Certification in New York State is a mandatory system whereby an individual is determined to be qualified as a chief operator or assistant/shift operator for the complete and actual operation of a Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) for the purpose of meeting the requirements of its State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit (SPDES).

Why Is There Certification?

Billions of dollars have been spent on the abatement of water pollution. Thousands of WWTP's have been built or upgraded in the quest for clean waters. These complex, expensive WWTP's are useless without competent, well-trained individuals to direct and maintain the process and machinery used in modern wastewater treatment. The operator is the first line of defense against waterborne diseases, our guardian of water qualify, and the safeguard of public health. We, in New York State, recognize the value of our operators and utilize the certification system to insure that all operators are educated, trained, and experienced individuals.

How Do You Get Certified?

Every operator in New York State who wishes to be certified at any level (Grade 1,2,3, or 4) must satisfy the minimum qualifications. The qualifications consist of education, experience at a WWTP, training, laboratory proficiency (except Grade 1), New York Water Environment Association (NYWEA), and passage of an Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) exam.

Is There Reciprocity?

New York State has reciprocity with other states through the Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) Reciprocity Register. Certified operators from states that also have agreements with ABC may be certified in New York without taking an exam, provided their qualifications meet New York State standards. Certified operators from other states may apply to the New York Water Environment Association (NYWEA), 525 Plum Street, Suite 102, Syracuse, NY 13204 to have their qualifications reviewed. Click Certification Reciprocity to obtain out of state requirements and procedures, and the link to NYWEA. ABC can be contacted at 2805 SW Snyder Blvd., Suite 535, Ankeny, Iowa 50023, by telephone at (515) 232-3623, by fax at (515) 232-3778 or you can email

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