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Wastewater Treatment Plant Operation

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New York State Recognizes the Value of Our Operators

an image of a wastewater treatment plant
Wastewater Operator Certification is for a 5 year period!

Wastewater treatment facility operation and maintenance personnel play a crucial role in improving and protecting water quality. The operator is the first line of defense against waterborne diseases, our guardian of water quality, and the safeguard of public health. These personnel operate facilities that New York municipalities have invested over $11 billion to construct.

The certification system insures that all operators are educated, trained, and experienced.

Wastewater facility operations work force must be knowledgeable to assure successful operation, maintenance, and management of these wastewater facilities.

Certification Program

The New York Water Environment Association (NYWEA) (leaves DEC's website) administers operator certification and certificate renewal. NYWEA processes all applications for certification and certificate renewal for a fee.

Please visit NYWEA's website (leaves DEC's website) form more information about wastewater treatment plant operator certification program. NYSDEC is responsible for the regulatory aspects of the program and approval of renewal training courses.

Frequent Wastewater Treatment Operation Issues

Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators looking for certification, renewal training, and operation & management resources

  • Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification - information and resources to become a certified wastewater treatment plant operator.
  • Renewal training courses and Approved Trainers - renewal training resources and information about the course approval process and approved Trainers.
  • Resource Toolbox for Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators - resources and information to keep facilities operating within permit requirements and plan for maintenance and growth.
  • Sign up for the Wastewater Operators listerv to receive occasional updates and information about training. To subscribe to the Wastewater Operators listserv, first use this link to subscribe to GovDelivery by entering your email address. Fill in and submit the requested information on the "New Subscriber" page. This will take you to the "Quick Subscription" page where you will see all the topics that you can receive email updates on from DEC. Scroll to the "Water" category and check the box next to "Wastewater Operators" You will receive a welcome email from DEC confirming your subscription(s).

Information & Resources for Municipalities

There are instances when a community or wastewater treatment plant owner must find an appropriately certified operator as required by 6NYCRR Part 650 Regulations.

A wastewater treatment plant must be under the supervision of a currently certified plant operator.

DEC maintains a partial listing of people or companies who provide contract operations services (PDF) at wastewater treatment plants. This list is in no way an endorsement of these businesses by DEC, merely information to assist municipalities.

A municipality can search for currently certified wastewater treatment plant operators on NYWEA's Certified Operators Directory (leaves DEC's website). This directory will list the current status, expiration date, certification number, and certification grade for the operator.

Looking for a Contract Laboratory?

Information about the Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP) requirement for analysis of SPDES permit parameters and a list of ELAP certified laboratories can be found on the Department of Health's ELAP webpage (leaves DEC's website).

If a community needs help finding a laboratory to analyze their wastewater or stormwater, who is qualified via ELAP, they can consult the New York State Department of Health's listing of Commercial Laboratories (leaves DEC's website). This listing is organized by county.

Understand the Regulations and Review Guidance Documents

The 6NYCRR Part 650 Qualifications of Operators of Wastewater Treatment Plants (leaves DEC's website)are the regulations which establish specific requirements for wastewater treatment plant certification in New York State. These regulations establish the qualifications necessary for certification of wastewater treatment plant operators in New York State and require that wastewater treatment plants be under the responsible supervision of an appropriately certified operator. The regulations also include information on:

  • Regulatory authority and policy for operator certification
  • Wastewater treatment plant oversight
  • Certification requirements
  • Treatment plant scoring

The TOGS 5.1.6. Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification (PDF) document provides guidance for DEC staff on how to interpret and administer the 6 NYCRR Part 650 Regulations. The document covers the following topics:

  • Certificate Renewal
  • Certificate expiration
  • Certificate suspension and revocation information
How to Determine the Plant Score of Your Wastewater Facility

Wastewater treatment plants are scored based on the type and complexity of the treatment using a point system outlined in Part 650.3 of the Regulations. In order to determine what grade level of wastewater treatment plant operator a facility is required to maintain, you must first know the plant score of the facility.

The most recent plant scores for the majority of New York's municipal wastewater treatment plants (PDF) is available. These plant scores are not all accurate, as they may not have been updated to reflect facility upgrades or SPDES Permit changes. The listing is ordered by SPDES number and each score report contains information about the facility's unit processes, point score, and plant classification. If a facility is not included in this list, or plant score needs to be updated, complete the WWTP Facility Score Sheet (PDF) form.

Information to Help Manage Plant Resources
Asset Management and Sustainability

Asset Management is a process for maintaining a desired level of customer service at the best cost. It is an approach that combines management, financial, economic, engineering, and other practices to physical assets with the objective of providing the required level of service in the most cost-effective manner.

Funding Resources
  • Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) offers several loan and grant programs for municipalities.
  • Municipalities are eligible to apply for Water Quality Improvement Program (WQIP) funds for municipal wastewater treatment, municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s), nonagricultural nonpoint source abatement and control, aquatic habitat restoration, and water quality management.
  • The Environmental Finance Center at Syracuse University (EFC) leverages more that 200 partners to connect local government officials and private organizations with technical assistance. assessment tools, and funding. EFC also provides professional training and community outreach.
Learn More About Wastewater Management
Need Technical Assistance
  • The NY Rural Water Association provides free on-site technical assistance t small and rural wastewater treatment and collection systems through the Wastewater Technical Assistance Program both funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service.

Descriptive Data of Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants - Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants in NY

Descriptive Data of Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants (PDF). This issue is an updating of the 1992 edition and contains information which is current through January 2004.

A pamphlet containing descriptive data on public sewer systems and sewage treatment plants in New York State was first published in 1927 and subsequently revised and updated in 1929, 1935, 1941, 1952, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1987, and 1992. Previously known as the New York State Health Department Bulletin No. 20 for the years 1927 - 1952, thee publications satisfied a general demand for the descriptive information that is contained in the document.

This update process included a survey of all Publicly Owned /Treatment Works (POTWs). We obtained a response rate of 80 percent. Included in the appendix is a sampling of the various statistical comparisons that can be developed from the stored data. Tables compare the types of facilities and plant designs found in this survey with those that were shown in the 1952, 1980, 1985, 1987, 1992, and 1999 reports.

In addition to the tables described above, the descriptive data identifies the treatment units associated with each plant and provides the following additional information:

  • Permittee Name
  • Facility Name
  • County Name
  • SPDES Number
  • Chief Operator
  • Phone Number
  • Receiving Waterbody
  • Drainage Basin/Stream Class
  • Year Built/Updated
  • Design Flow (MGD)/Plant Class
  • Population Served
  • Number of Employees

Overview of the Wastewater Treatment Process

"Be in the Know...Go With the Flow" is an interactive wastewater treatment map that takes you on a visual journey through the wastewater treatment process. Beginning in our homes and businesses and ending when clean water is returned to oceans, lakes, and other bodies of water, each icon represents a different step in the wastewater treatment process and provides viewers with a simple, non-technical narrative description.

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