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Regulatory Handbook -> Water Quality Permits -> Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification

Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification

What is the Purpose of this Certification?
When wastewater treatment plants are properly operated, public health and the state's waters are protected. This certification program is working to help ensure that operators meet the established requirements and are competent to operate and maintain wastewater treatment plants.
Who Issues this Certification?
Department of Ecology
What Activities Require this Certification?
Wastewater operator certification is required for (1) the operator in responsible charge of a domestic wastewater treatment plant and (2) the lead operator of each shift at a domestic wastewater treatment plant.
How Much Will this Certification Cost?
2016 – 2017 fees are as follows. To see the most current fees, visit: https://ecology.wa.gov/Regulations-Permits/Permits-certifications/Wastewater-operator-certification
  • Computer Based Exam Fees:
    • Application Fee: $50
    • Exam Fee: $31
    • Exam Administration Fee: $67 ($148 total)

  • Web Based Exam Fees:
    • Application Fee: $50
    • Exam Fee: $41

  • Department of Corrections Fees:
    • Application Fee: $50
    • Exam Fee: $42.50 ($92.50)
    • Exam Retake Fee: $42.50

  • Annual Renewal fee: $30

2018 fees are as follows. To see the most current fees, visit: https://ecology.wa.gov/Regulations-Permits/Permits-certifications/Wastewater-operator-certification
  • Computer Based Exam Fees:
    • Application Fee: $50
    • Exam Fee: $31
    • Exam Administration Fee: $69 ($150 total)

  • Web Based Exam Fees:
    • Application Fee: $50
    • Exam Fee: $43

  • Department of Corrections Fees:
    • Application Fee: $50
    • Exam Fee: $44.50 ($94.50)
    • Exam Retake Fee: $44.50

  • Annual Renewal fee: $30
Where Can I Get the Application for this Certification?
The application which is called 'Application for Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification' is online and can be accessed at https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/SummaryPages/ECY0402131.html.
Do I Need to Include Anything with my Application?
  • Certificates of training and continuing education courses.
  • Transcripts or unaltered copies of all college credits.
  • If applicable, a copy of your valid out-of-state Domestic Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certificate.
Is the Decision on my Certification Dependent on Anything Besides the Information in my Application?
The certification is not a permit. Certificates may be revoked when the Department of Ecology (Ecology) director finds:
  1. Fraud or deceit in obtaining the certificate.
  2. Gross negligence in the operation of a wastewater treatment plant.
  3. Violation of the requirements of this Chapter 173-230 WAC or the statute it implements or of any lawful rule, regulation or order of Ecology.
For more details see the Notes/Comments section.
How Long Will it Take to Review my Application?
The application submittal process allows Operator Certification staff up to 60 days to review and approve the application for testing.
Where do I Submit my Application?
You can complete the application online or print it out and complete it by hand. Then mail the completed application and $50 application fee to:

    Department of Ecology
    Cashiering Unit
    PO Box 47611
    Olympia, WA 98504-7611
How Long is my Certification Valid?
Except for a temporary certification, a certificate is valid from January 1 until December 31 of the same year or the year designated by Ecology. Except for a temporary certification, a certificate is renewable only when the certificate holder demonstrates and provides documentation to Ecology of continued professional growth in the field. Ecology will mail renewal notices to all certificate holders eligible to renew before the certificate expires.

Maintaining a valid certificate requires paying an annual renewal fee and meeting a professional growth requirement every three years.

A wastewater treatment plant owner may request a temporary certificate for an individual when the designated certified operator unexpectedly vacates the position.

For more details see the Notes/Comments section.
What is the Appeal Process for the Certification?
Decisions of the Ecology director under this Chapter 173-230 WAC may be appealed within thirty days from the date of notice to the Pollution Control Hearings Board as required by Chapter 43.21B RCW and Chapter 371-08 WAC.

To appeal you must do both of the following within 30 days after the date of receipt of a notice of revocation:
  • File your appeal and a copy of the notice of revocation with the Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB) during regular business hours.
  • Serve a copy of your appeal and the notice of revocation on Ecology in paper form, by mail or in person. E-mail is not accepted.
            Physical Addresses
            Department of Ecology Attn: Appeals Processing Desk
            300 Desmond Drive SE
            Lacey, WA 98503

            Pollution Control Hearings Board
            1111 Israel Road SW, Suite 301
            Tumwater, WA 98501

            Mailing Addresses
            Department of Ecology Attn: Appeals Processing Desk
            P.O. Box 47608
            Olympia, WA 98504-7608

            Pollution Control Hearings Board
            P.O. Box 40903
            Olympia, WA 98504-0903
Notes / Comments:
Ecology will not revoke a certification unless the operator has been notified that revocation is proposed, has been advised of the reason, and has been given an opportunity to appear before the Ecology director and be heard on the matter.

A certificate will be suspended immediately if the Ecology director is notified by the Department of Social and Health Services that a person is not in compliance with a support order or a residential or visitation order. If the person has continued to meet all other requirements for reinstatement during the suspension, the certificate will be reissued when the Ecology director is notified by the Department of Social and Health Services that the person is in compliance with the order.

If a certificate is revoked, the individual must meet all conditions of certification including application, fees, and passing an examination to become recertified.

Temporary certificate requests must be made in writing to the wastewater operator certification program coordinator and must include an application and fee. Ecology may issue a temporary certificate at its discretion. A temporary certificate may not exceed a one-year period, is nonrenewable, and cannot be transferred to another individual.

To become certified, the applicant must meet minimum education and experience requirements and pass an exam. The exam is computer based and administered by Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP) twice a day, five days a week, in Bellevue, Bellingham, East Wenatchee, Everett, Kennewick, Kirkland, Lakewood, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Spanaway, Vancouver, and Yakima. Note: Test locations are added and removed at discretion of AMP.
Statewide Contact:
Department of Ecology
Water Quality Program
Headquarters
300 Desmond Drive
PO Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Fax: (360) 407-6426
Telephone: (360) 407-6600
Website: https://ecology.wa.gov/About-us/Get-to-know-us/Our-Programs/Water-Quality
* Permit information last updated 2/6/2018
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