The regulations were drafted by NDEP in cooperation with the Certification Board. NDEP is hopeful that the revisions will be adopted sometime in March or April. If you have any questions, wish to see the full regulations, or wish to learn more background, feel free the certification board.
NDEP only regulates Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator certification. Changes to the non-regulatory/voluntary certifications (eg: lab analyst, plant maintenance, inspector, etc) will likely be phased in down the road, but the Certification Board is holding off discussion until the NDEP changes are implemented.
CONTINUING EDUCATION (OPERATORS MAINTAINING THEIR CERTIFICATION)
Certified Operators will be required to complete the following pre-approved relevant continuing education within each 2-year renewal cycle:
Grade I – 5 hours
Grade II – 10 hours
Grade III – 15 hours
Grade IV – 20 hours
Regarding initial implementation, the requirement will be phased in by providing existing operators with a full 2-year renewal cycle to obtain their CEU requirements. As an example, an operator whose current certification expires in September would need to meet CEU requirements for their next 2-year renewal period (2018-2020) but not the period they are currently in.
EDUCATION FOR BECOMING CERTIFIED (OR ADVANCE AN EXISTING CERTIFICATION)
Operators seeking certification at each Grade level will be required to meet the following initial education requirements. The education requirements are cumulative so can include the previous grade’s education (eg: Grade IV certification requires the Grade III education requirements plus two additional post-secondary courses). Post-secondary is a college level course (in-person or online) that the Certification Board deems acceptable. (chemistry, biology, math, etc).
Grade I – 60 hours of wastewater related education
Grade II – 120 hours of wastewater related education
Grade III – 120 hours of wastewater education and two postsecondary courses of instruction related to wastewater treatment
Grade IV – 120 hours of wastewater education and four postsecondary courses of instruction related to wastewater treatment
Operators currently certified at each grade level will be grandfathered in on the initial education requirements for their existing certification, but will need to meet the full new initial education requirements for advancing their certification to a higher grade. If anyone wishes to apply for certification prior to reg implementation, the existing education requirements currently still apply.
EXPERIENCE FOR BECOMING CERTIFIED
Operators seeking certification at each Grade level will be required to meet the following experience requirements. Operators will no longer be permitted to obtain certification at a grade level higher than the classification of the plant where they are employed.
Grade I – 1 year experience in operating at a Classification I facility or higher
Grade II – Grade I certification and 2 years experience in operating, with at least 1 year at a Classification II facility or higher
Grade III – Grade II certification and 3 years experience in operating, with at least 1 year at a Classification III facility or higher
Grade IV – Grade III certification and 4 years experience in operating, with at least 1 year at a Classification IV facility or higher
The current regs limit Operator-in-Training to Grade I. The proposed regs will refer to them as Restricted Certificates and will offer them for each grade level. Restricted Certificates carry no regulatory authority to operate but serve as a stepping stone to the next level of certification for operators seeking employment at a facility with a higher classification level than their current facility. Restricted Certificates cannot be renewed (unlike the current OIT) and will be valid for four years. To obtain a Restricted Certificate, operators need to meet the following requirements AND receive a passing score on the appropriate certification exam.
Grade I – High school diploma or GED
Grade II – Hold an active Grade I certification for a minimum of 1 year and meet Grade II education requirements
Grade III – Hold an active Grade II certification for a minimum of 1 year and meet Grade III education requirements
Grade IV – Hold an active Grade III certification for a minimum of 1 year and meet Grade IV education requirements
Certified operators will be deemed decertified if their certification is not renewed within 6 months following the expiration date (and will not be allowed to renew that certification).
The NAC plant classification table is being updated, but will have minimal impact on existing NPDES plant classifications.
NDEP fees have not increased since the mandatory program was implemented in 1992, and that the proposed fees still do not cover program costs so NDEP will still be subsidizing the program.
Initial Certification: $140 (currently $60)
Renewals: $110 (currently $30)
Restricted Certificate: $90 (currently $60 with no conversion fee to fully certification)
Conversion of Restricted Certificate to full certification: $70 (currently $0)
Reciprocity: $150 (currently $75)
Reinstatement (within 6 months of suspended certification): $80 (currently $0)