Certified Drinking Water Operators
Certified operators provide onsite management, operations or maintenance services to public water systems. They make sure that all systems meet the requirements of the Massachusetts Drinking Water Regulations. And they maintain their certification and skills through continuing education programs.
Operators are certified (licensed) by the Board of Certification of Operators of Drinking Water Supply Facilities, which is overseen by the Division of Occupational Licensure within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. Operators must pass an exam and meet educational and experience requirements prior to becoming licensed.
All public water systems receive a capacity determination (rating) by MassDEP. New systems receive an initial determination and exiting systems may receive an updated determination based on an evaluation in response to sanitary survey results, a major water quality violation, change in ownership, application for a State Revolving Fund loan, or anytime deemed necessary by MassDEP. The three capacity ratings are adequate, conditional, and inadequate.
A system with adequate capacity:
- Complies with all major DW regs and expected to comply well into future
- Demonstrates willingness and ability to plan for the future, including capital improvement plans, emergency funds, enterprise accounting, employee training, and updated master plans
A system with conditional capacity:
- Complies with all MassDEP’s drinking water regulations but has issues that are being monitored and rectified.
- Complies but may not have addressed a foreseeable major need that will have to be addressed within the next five years.
- Not in compliance with drinking water regulations but has demonstrated good faith in remedying issues through an enforceable agreement such as an Administrative Consent Order (ACO) and remains in compliance with the enforcement order.
- Not in compliance, but the deficiencies can and will be corrected within 12 months.
A system with inadequate capacity:
- Out of compliance with drinking water regulations or cannot be expected to meet them in the future.
- Does not plan ahead for future impacts (e.g., growth and aging infrastructure) which could greatly impair their ability to provide water that meets state and federal standards.
- Substantial technical assistance is required in order to improve system performance.
Capacity Development Strategy
The MassDEP Capacity Development Strategy describes new and existing efforts to increase the technical, managerial, and financial (TMF) capacity of public water systems. The overall goal of the capacity development strategy is to work with systems to prevent a lack of TMF capacity that could result in a violation of a drinking water standard, in poor drinking water quality, and/or in a public health emergency.
Capacity Development Reports
MassDEP provides annual and triennial reports to USEPA on capacity development programs and projects.
PWS Funding Resources
There are a variety of potential funding sources available to public water systems, including loans and grants.
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund
The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Program provides low-cost financing to help community public water suppliers comply with federal and state drinking water requirements.
The program's goals are to protect public health and strengthen compliance with drinking water requirements, while addressing the Commonwealth's drinking water needs, through affordability and proper watershed management priorities.
MassDEP along with its partner agencies and organizations offer trainings throughout the year. Certified operators need a certain amount of training hours to renew their licenses.
Asset management is an important component of capacity development. It helps systems to protect public health by properly identifying, maintaining, and replacing system components.
Documents and links to support the operations of a public water system.