Frequently Asked Questions

Top 3

How do I get started?

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.

What is the status of my application?

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

Did you receive my application?

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 contact us using the our contact form.


How do I submit my application?

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

Ontario Water Wastewater Certification Office
295 The West Mall, Suite 302
Etobicoke, ON M9C 4Z4

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

What is my Operator ID?

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.

How do I know what certificates or licences an operator holds?

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.

I am looking for a job in the field, where do I start?

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.


Do I need to answer all the questions on the form?

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

Do I need to submit a job description with my application?

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.

If I hold a drinking water Operator-in-Training (OIT) certificate, am I considered a limited subsystem operator?

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.

I received an email or letter requesting additional information. What should I do?

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.

What substitutions are possible for Class 2, 3 or 4 certificates or licences?

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.

How does the ministry count experience if an operator works part-time?

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.

I am a full-time operator but work in different types of subsystems (i.e. WT, WDS, and WWC). How will my experience be calculated?

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.

How do I get my certificate or licence from another province recognized?

Please see the Out-of-Province Applicants page for more information.

What is the difference between an Overall Responsible Operator (ORO) and an Operator-in-Charge (OIC)?

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.


As a drinking water or wastewater Operator-in-Training (OIT), do I need to submit training or experience?

No, training and experience are not required for OIT renewals.

What are Director Approved CEUs?

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.

What is the difference between a Continuing Education Unit (CEU) and hours of training?

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.

What is on-the-job training?

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.

Is my employer responsible for my training?

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.

I work in two different types of drinking water subsystems and hold two different certificates. What training requirements must I meet?

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.

I hold both drinking water certificates and wastewater licences. How many hours of training do I need?

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.


How do I apply for an examination?

Visit the Writing an Examination page for more information.

Do I need to submit proof of Grade 12 with my application?

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..

What is the examination cancellation/rescheduling policy?

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.

I failed my examination. When can I write it again?

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.

I received my marks in the mail, but have not received my certificate or licence.

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.