Frequently Asked Questions


TOP 3

To find out how to get started as a water or wastewater operator, visit the Getting Your Certificate or Licence For the First Time section.

For information on how to become a limited or small systems operator, visit the Small Systems section.

All applications have different processing timelines. You can review the timelines for applications processed through our office on the Application Status and Timelines page.

Due to the high volume of applications that come through our office each day, we are not able to contact each applicant to confirm receipt. If you would like to know if we have received your application, please send an email to info@owwco.ca.

GENERAL

Applications can be submitted via fax at 416-231-2107 or mailed to:

Ontario Water Wastewater Certification Office
302 The East Mall, Suite 600
Etobicoke, ON M9B 6C7

Forms are available in the Find a Form/Guideline section of our website.

Operator IDs are the unique number which identifies each operator. It is 8 digits long beginning with “900” and can be found on any correspondence from the OWWCO office. Contact the OWWCO office if you need further assistance.

The Operator Listing Report is a searchable list of all the valid certificates and licences an operator currently holds. It is updated on the first business day of each month.

If an operator is not listed on the report, their certification may be expired or may have been issued after the list was posted. Send an email to our Customer Service department for more information.

OWWCO does not provide employment counseling and we are not informed when there are job openings in the water/wastewater industry, however, for information on the type of career you can expect, visit the Careers and Industry Links pages in the About Us section.

You can also visit A Career in Water for more information.

UPGRADES

Yes. This includes answering yes or no to both the full time and back up operator questions.

Yes. A copy of your current job description must be signed by your manager/ORO and submitted with your upgrade application. If you are submitting more than one upgrade at the same time, only one copy is required.

If you have previously submitted your job description, then you don’t need to submit it again. If your position has changed since your last application, you will need to submit a copy of your current job description.

A person who holds a valid Water Treatment Operator-in-Training (OIT) certificate can operate limited surface water or limited ground water systems. A person who holds a valid Water Distribution and Supply OIT certificate can operate limited groundwater systems.

Provide the requested information. If you have questions about what is being requested, contact the analyst who sent the request.

Any information you submit regarding operational or OIC experience will need to be signed by your manager/ORO. Make sure your name and/or Operator ID number is clearly written on any submission.

While no substitutions are allowed for Class 1 certificates or licences, Class 2, 3 or 4 applicants may be permitted to make substitutions for up to 50% of their operational experience requirement OR 50% of their CEU requirements (if applicable). In addition, Class 3 or 4 applicants may be permitted to substitute up to 50% of the OIC requirement.

For detailed information on the possible substitutions, please see Guideline 3.4 – Experience as a Drinking Water Operator and Guideline 3.4b – Experience as a Wastewater Operator.

The ministry considers 1,800 hours per year to equal full-time employment. A part-time operator will be credited the percent of full-time employment they work as an operator. An on-call operator will only be credited experience for the time they actually perform operating functions. No experience will be credited for time spent ‘standing by’.

Operators who work part-time as an operator but are responsible for the subsystem on a full-time basis will receive one-year experience credit for each year worked, for each different type of subsystem for which they are responsible.

For operators who spend the vast majority of their time performing non-operating functions, it might take many years to acquire the necessary operating experience. Therefore, for Class 1 applicants, the ministry will credit one year experience for five consecutive years performing operating functions on a regular basis throughout each year.

For detailed information on experience, please see Guideline 3.4 – Experience as a Drinking Water Operator and Guideline 3.4b – Experience as a Wastewater Operator.

A full time operator working in more than one type of system can be credited with one year of experience in each type for each year worked, as long as they operate the systems in the same manner as other operators and are operating to the full extent of the system.

  • Example: A full-time operator in a water treatment subsystem will be credited with one year of operating experience toward a water treatment certificate.
  • Example: A full-time operator who operates in water treatment, water distribution, wastewater treatment, and wastewater collection will be credited with one year of operating experience toward each of these certificates/licenses as long as they are operating to the full extent of the system.

For detailed information, please see Guideline 3.4 – Experience as a Drinking Water Operator and Guideline 3.4b – Experience as a Wastewater Operator.

The owner or operating authority must designate an ORO, and must also designate one or more operators as OIC for the subsystem/facility they operate. These are two different roles, although they can be performed by the same operator.

For detailed information, please see Guideline 5.1 – Overall Responsible Operator vs. Operator-in-Charge.

RENEWALS

Courses which are Director Approved must meet certain training criteria and cover topics directly related to the operational duties typically performed by drinking water operators and water quality analysts. For a full list of Director Approved CEU courses, please see our CEU Approved Course Listing.

A Continuing Education Unit (CEU) is an internationally accepted way to assess course duration. 10 training hours of approved training is equivalent to 1 CEU. All courses listed in the OWWCO website of approved trainers are listed in CEUs.

For a list of Director Approved courses, please see our CEU Approved Courses list.

For more information on Director Approved CEUs and on-the-job training, please see Guideline 4.4 Director Approved Continuing Education Guide for Training Providers

On-the-job training (or OJT) typically occurs in the workplace and can include demonstrations, instruction, or training on matter directly related to the duties typically performed by drinking water operators and water quality analysts.

The training must:

  • Be a structured learning event, involving contact between the learner and instructor
  • Have documented learning objectives
  • Be delivered by a training provider with expertise in the subject matter that is being covered
  • Include a record of the training
  • Be on subject matter directly related to the duties typically performed by an operator.

An OJT list must be submitted with drinking water renewals. This must be signed by your manager or ORO and include a detailed name of the event, the hour length, date taken, and the training provider’s name. Items which do not appear to be related to the duties of a drinking water operator such as “Safety Meetings” etc. must have details of the topics discussed included.

Note: Time spent on a ministry inspection is not considered OJT for the purpose of meeting this training requirement.

For more information please see the Guide to Drinking Water Operator Training Requirements

The owner or operating authority of the subsystem or facility you work in must take reasonable steps to ensure you meet your training requirement, however, as an operator you are ultimately responsible for ensuring your certification remains valid.

Drinking water training requirements are based on the highest class of drinking water subsystem you operate. For example, if you work in both a class 1 and a class 2 subsystem, your training will be based on a class 2. See the Drinking Water Certificate Renewal Requirements tab on the Renewing Your Certificate or Licence page for more information.

Drinking water training requirements vary depending on the highest class of drinking water subsystem you operate and can be averaged over the 3 years a certificate is valid.

Wastewater training requirements are 40 hours each year and cannot be averaged over the 3 years the licence is valid.

While wastewater specific training cannot be used to renew drinking water certificates, training used to renew your drinking water certificate can be used towards meeting your wastewater training requirements.

Read more about drinking water and wastewater training requirements on the Renewing Your Certificate or Licence page.

EXAMS

Visit the Writing an Examination page for more information.

If this is the first time that you are writing an exam you must submit proof of Grade 12 or equivalent with your exam application. If you have already submitted this with a previous application, you do not need to submit it again.

Please note that to be considered valid:

  • A high school transcript must be signed by the principal/vice principal of your school or the registrar of the school board.
  • A college or university transcript must be signed by the registrar and clearly state that the diploma/degree was conferred.

For further information about what is considered equivalent to Grade 12, please see Guideline 3.1 Grade 12 Equivalency.

If you have education from outside Canada, please see Guideline 3.6 – Recognition of Education Received in Jurisdictions Other than Canada or the U.S..

If you are unable to attend your scheduled examination date, you can request to reschedule up to two times at no additional fee. You must provide written notice a minimum of two weeks prior to the exam date. If you are unable to attend the third scheduled date, the exam application is cancelled. No refunds will be issued. You must then apply for a new exam date by submitting a new application with payment.

Applicants who are unable to attend an exam due to severe weather, illness or other acceptable compassionate reasons will be allowed to reschedule without penalty. A doctor’s certificate or other documentation may be requested.

If an exam applicant, at any time, cancels an exam application no refund will be issued.

There is no waiting period for Operator-in-Training exams, however, for all other examinations there is a 90 day waiting period before you can try the same exam again.

Passing the examination is just one of the requirements to obtain a new certificate or licence. For full information on the requirements for different levels of certification, please see the pages listed below:

For Class 1 to 4 and WQA requirements, see the Upgrading Your Certificate or Licence page.

For Operator-in-Training requirements, see the Getting Your Certificate or Licence For the First Time page.

For Limited and Small Systems operator requirements, see the Small Systems section.