Operator Certification Working Group (OCWG) Meeting Highlights

The OCWG provides expertise to the Ministry on matters related to the water and wastewater operator certification program. Working Group members also act as liaisons between their respective organizations, the operators they represent and the Ministry. While they help the Ministry communicate the requirements of the certification program to operators, operating authorities and other organizations, they also bring ideas and concerns of operators to the forefront.

The Working Group consists of regional representatives from various organizations in the water and wastewater industry. They include: Water Environment Association of Ontario (WEAO), Ontario Water Works Association (OWWA), Ontario Municipal Water Association (OMWA), Walkerton Clean Water Centre (WCWC), Ontario Municipal Benchmarking Initiative (OMBI), Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation (OFNTSC) and Durham College.

The Working Group meets quarterly to discuss operator certification matters as program decisions are considered. Working Group members have the opportunity to raise and discuss issues, as well as ensure they understand the Ministry’s program objectives and priorities. Some topics that are frequently discussed at regular meetings include: facility classification, examinations, licensing and certification requirements, assessment of training, content of mandatory training courses and more.

Please click on the dates below for meeting highlights.


OWWCO announced upcoming operator exam changes. The newer versions of ABC exams are standardized across North American jurisdictions and as such, do not include any regulatory questions. Changes related to the new exams include a slightly longer turnaround time for marking and an additional 10 questions for exam content improvement. The new Class I – IV drinking water and wastewater operator exams will be rolled out on July 1st, 2019.

WCWC highlighted a number of recent accomplishments, including: training stats, pilot studies, students’ active engagement with World Water Week at the centre and achieving high enrollment rate for the Ministry’s Standard of Care training.

The group also presented several upcoming events for 2019:

  • May 16th – a free Legionella seminar will be offered at 125 Resources Road in Etobicoke, which counts towards CEUs
  • August 28th and 29th – the 9th Annual Maintenance Fest will take place at WCWC

The Ministry is currently working with WCWC to update the Operations of Small Drinking Water Systems course to meet the needs of limited systems operators and Trained Persons, as well as including topics targeted for public health inspectors.

Brian Jobb, Training and Development Manager at WCWC, is retiring August 30th and was thanked by the group for his work.

The Ministry presented the group with the progress on Overall Responsible Operator (ORO) and Operator-in-Charge (OIC) guideline development and review which remains ongoing.

The group discussed qualification for On-the-Job Training (OJT) to ensure there is consistency in record assessment and explored activities that could be incorporated as OJT in the future.

Examples of recent operator misconduct were discussed at a high level, as well as the disciplinary actions taken by the Ministry.

To date, 109 First Nations participants have registered for the Entry-level Course for Drinking Water Operators. A management course for First Nations managers and leaders was also piloted in February 2019 and received positive feedback.

The Ministry presented new program policy that involves returning incomplete applications to minimize processing delays. The new policy will be rolled out using a phased-in approach.

The group also discussed operational duties to help refine functions listed in the Ministry’s current operator experience guidelines. The feedback from the working group will be considered when updating the guidelines to better reflect what the Ministry considers as operational experience.




WCWC has a new CEO, Carl Kuhnke who recently started with the centre. The group was updated on the recent work being performed by WCWC, including:

  • Amalgamation/updating of courses.
  • The development of the new mandatory renewal course. Pilot scheduled for late October or early November 2017.
  • Information Clearinghouse, a one stop shop for information on drinking water.

Promotion of the pilot testing program to help small communities.

The group discussed filling out Class 1 wastewater application forms for Operator-in-Training and entry level positions. Topics included how owners/operating authorities track experience for these positions and how the experience is verified by OWWCO.

The Ministry presented the group with the approach that is being adopted regarding the topic of Overall Responsible Operator (ORO).

The ministry’s priority is to provide clarification on purpose and roles of the ORO and Operator-in-Charge (OIC) through a new draft guideline, which was provided to the group for their review and feedback. The guideline clarifies the intent of the regulation and how the roles of the ORO and OIC should be applied.

The group discussed topics including: the designation of “back-up” OROs, succession planning, on-call OROs and the meaning of “present and able to act”. Consultations will continue.

The Ministry provided the group with a presentation on aggregated pass/fail rates for all certification exams for the past five years.

The group also discussed the new Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) operator certification exams offered for one month in the Spring. The process used for developing the new exams was outlined and the Ministry informed the group that it is considering adopting the exams in the Spring of 2018.

The new exams are designed to be used by jurisdictions across North America and therefore do not include Ontario specific regulatory questions. The group discussed how best to ensure that operators have knowledge of regulatory requirements. Suggested methods included: (1) the addition of a regulatory exam module for Class I certification exams; (2) the use of mandatory training courses.

The topic of aligning certificate expiry dates was discussed by the group. The ministry provided a short presentation on how this alignment could be achieved. Drinking water certificates would be aligned separately from wastewater licences, resulting in an operator holding a maximum of two certificates with expiry dates that remain consistent throughout their career.

The aligned certificates would simplify the renewal process and make the administration of training easier for employers. Multiple certificate holders would experience a cost saving under this two certificate model.

Alignment of certificate expiry dates would require regulatory amendments.



The Ministry provided the group with information on concurrent experience policy, including when concurrent experience may or may not be accepted, crediting OIC experience, and program tools used to ensure consistent assessment of experience.

Details of the New Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) exams were provided to the group. Ontario will be launching new exams in Spring 2017 for one month. The exam results will be used by ABC to determine the passing mark for the exams.


The group was provided with an update on the status on Overall Responsible Operator (ORO) by the Ministry including:

  • Regulatory amendments related to ORO are no longer being considered
  • A new guidance document will be developed on the ORO topic
  • A draft document will be developed by the ministry and provided to the group prior to further consultation.

The Ontario Water Works Association (OWWA) expressed disappointment that a regulatory amendment is not being pursued and stated that they believe regulatory change is still warranted.

The Walkerton Clean Water Centre provided the group with an update. First Nations training is an area of top priority for the centre, working with First Nations organizations to increase training options and availability for operators in First Nation communities.


The results of the Risk Based Gap Analysis conducted by the WCWC were provided to the group. The centre has increased curriculum development (e.g. increasing offerings for small systems owners and operators). The new position of Small Systems Specialist has also been added to the WCWC.

Other initiatives include:

  • The creation of an Information Clearinghouse, currently in the pilot phase
  • Provision of pilot testing for communities

Helpline to provide operators with answers to questions, contact information and appropriate resources related to drinking water.

The Ministry provided an update on the status of the development of the new mandatory renewal course. Still in the early stages of development, the Ministry and the WCWC are looking to have a draft course in October.

OWWA is looking to form a working group to explore the feasibility of expanding activities accepted for the purposes of meeting the training requirements for certificate renewal (e.g. mentoring, etc.). OWWA raised concerns expressed by senior operators that there are challenges in meeting their training requirements. The Ministry and others expressed interest in participating in the working group.



The Ministry updated the group on the proposed regulatory amendments for O. Reg. 128/04, which included providing the content from the EBR posting and a potential approach for the transition regarding drinking water OIT certificates.

The ministry provided the group with an update on the Ministry’s proposed approach for supporting operator certification and training for First Nations.
WCWC expressed their support of working with partners on initiatives that support certification of First Nation operators.

Details of the topics covered in the recent Canadian Water Wastewater Operator Certification Committee (CWWOCC) meeting were provided to the group.

WCWC informed the group that a memorandum of understanding is being developed between the WCWC and the Ontario First Nation Technical Service Corporation.
WCWC has completed a Risk Based Gap Analysis in which they compared their current course curriculum against a list of perceived risks. The outcome will be a Curriculum Development Plan that will use training to help manage risks.
The group also discussed the development of the new Mandatory Renewal Course.

OWWCO updated the group on the implementation of the new dynamic forms. The initial response has been positive. Also discussed was the upcoming implementation of course renewals, as training providers are now required to submit their courses for renewal every three years.

The group discussed the topic of Continuing Education Training, options for senior operators and operator mentoring as a potential type of training.



OWWCO Shared the results of their recent operator survey with the group.

Details of the new course feedback feature available on owwvo.ca were provided. Operators are encouraged to use this feature to provide comments on courses they have taken.

The Ministry presented an update on the status of applications where drinking water operators had not met their training requirements. Improvements have been made since the implementation of temporary renewals. Most applicants not meeting their training requirements at the time of submission are obtaining the training needed before expiry. Also, the number of temporary requests has significantly decreased.

The Ministry provided the group with details on the proposed approach for changes to the ORO and OIC. The ministry will be presenting the proposed approach at regional conferences this fall and further discussions with the ORO Discussion Group will be held.

Details of the recent consultations between the Ministry and Training Providers on the upcoming course renewal process were provided to the group. Proposed changes to the course review process for renewals were also presented. The first courses will be renewed in October 2016.

The Ministry presented features of the new operator certification program forms to the group. Demonstrations of the new renewal and upgrade application forms were provided to the group. Feedback from the group was positive. Implementation will take place on July 1, 2016.

The group discussed the pass rates for Class III and IV Wastewater Treatment and Wastewater Collection certification exams.
The Ministry provided the group with an update on the continuing work being done with partners and First Nations to promote certification of First Nations operators.



WCWC informed the group that the revisions to the Entry-Level Drinking Water Operator Course are nearing completion. The revised course will include a new textbook and self-study guide. Delivery should begin in early April.

The results of a client consultation were provided to the group. The consultation involved 130 people across the province and covered topics such as eLearning, subject matter demand, First Nations training, and client satisfaction.

The MOECC reviewed options developed by the ORO working group. Any of these options would require regulatory amendments. Also discussed was the need to clarity the definition of an OIC and when designation of an OIC is appropriate. The ministry will be scheduling another meeting to follow-up on next steps.

Potential regulatory amendments or guidance to address the supports that would need to be in place when an operator-in-training is working alone were discussed.

The Ministry provided the group with details on Director approved course renewals scheduled for implementation later in the year. The target date for the first round of renewal is September 30, 2016. The proposed renewal application and assessment process was outlined. The topic of late course renewals was also discussed.

The group was given a demonstration of the new operator certification forms. Examples of the dynamic ‘smart form’ functionality of the forms, including defaults, show and hide, auto-population of fields, mandatory fields and new types of instruction features were shown.

The MOECC presented statistics associated with temporary drinking water certificate renewals. Overall the numbers are promising, with the number of temporary certificate requests decreasing and the comparatively large number of operators completing their outstanding training prior to expiry.

The Ministry discussed the work being done with partners and First Nations to promote certification of First Nations operators.


The Ministry provided the group with the details of upcoming changes to the ‘Trained Person’ designation aimed at simplifying and clarifying requirements. As of October 1, 2015, new rules for maintaining the ‘Trained Person’ designation will be introduced. Guidance materials have been developed to explain the new requirements and will be available on OWWCO and WCWC websites.

OWWCO provided the goals for the new OWWCO website including an updated design, meeting accessibility standards, mobile friendly format, and more user friendly content. The group was given a demonstration/overview of the new website.

The Ministry updated the group on the Overall Responsible Operator (ORO) Discussion Group meetings held in April, May and June. Potential approached for further discussion were developed based on these meetings. The Ministry will reconvene the ORO Discussion Group in October to discuss the approaches.

WCWC discussed their Strategic Planning Session, including additional focus on small, remote and First Nations training. Work on the revisions to the Entry-Level Drinking Water Operator Course continues, and a course on O. Reg. 319/08 is being developed.

The Ministry provided the group with the new fee structure effective January 1, 2016. Also discussed was the introduction of four new fees including fees for temporary drinking water certificate renewals, wastewater OIT licences, wastewater facility classifications and reassessment of Director approved continuing education courses.

Upcoming changes to Director approved courses were presented to the group. Course renewals will be introduced in mid-2016 to ensure that courses continue to meet the criteria for Director approval. An improved course listing will be part of OWWCO’s new website.

The Ministry informed the group that the current forms are to be replaced with a new set of smart forms. The Ministry asked for volunteers to attend a 2 hour teleconference to walkthrough the new forms so that feedback could be provided.


WCWC informed the group that revisions to the Entry Level Course are underway by the advisory committee. The target for completion of the updated course is Spring 2016.

The MOECC reviewed O. Reg. 128/04 and O. Reg. 129/04 with the group. Group members provided feedback to the Ministry on different aspects of the regulations.

Trained Person Designation – A review completed by the Ministry on the policies and guidance on trained persons led to decision to update the policy and streamline the process.

The proposed process requires a person to complete the Operation of Small Drinking Water Systems Course to obtain the trained person designation. To maintain the designation a person would need to complete one course from an approved focused list of relevant high quality courses.

The MOECC provided an update on the ORO discussion group meetings. Three ORO Discussion Group meetings here held, topics discussed included: ORO issues, regulatory framework, the position of OROs in organizations, roles, duties and responsibilities. The group is scheduled to reconvene in late September.


The MOECC provided an update on the implementation of temporary drinking water certificate renewals. The group provided feedback on correspondence associated with the new process. The group also discussed potential trends associated with operators not meeting their training requirements.

The MOECC informed the group that work has commenced on education and outreach targeted at small system owners and operators. The objective is to help small system operator understand and meet their training requirements through the development of easy to understand, plain language guidance.

MOECC provided background information on pilot plants and the scenarios for crediting pilot plant experience towards certificates/licences.

OWWCO shared the results of their recent stakeholder survey with the group.

The OWWCO website will be refreshed this year. It will be modernized and more user-friendly. It will also be accessible through mobile devices.

WCWC discussed the use of online/eLearning courses and their continued investigations into using webinars and webcasts to deliver training while ensuring a high level of quality.

Maintenancefest to be held in Walkerton in August. WCWC will also be moving forward with Maintenancefests focused on small systems topics started last fall.

Details of the concerns raised by stakeholders regarding the ORO issue were provided to the group. The findings of a jurisdictional scan performed by the Ministry on ORO and OIC were provided to the group. The Ministry will be setting up meetings/ workshops with stakeholders to discuss the ORO issue. These meetings will be scheduled for April and May. The Ministry asked for associations to provide representatives to be part of the ORO workshops.

Changes to two new guidance documents were presented to the group, the Guide to Drinking Water Operator Training in O. Reg. 128/04 and Guideline 4.4: Director Approved Continuing Education Guide for Training Providers.

The Ministry and the WCWC are looking to make revisions to the Entry Level Drinking Water Operator Course. The focus will be on removing duplication between the at-home and in-class portions of the course and updating course content and presentation material.

Canadian Operator Certification Best Practices document was recently updated last Fall and was published in January. This document is available on OWWCO’s website. The intention of the document is to harmonize operator certification programs across the country.

The MOECC provided an update on the upcoming changes to temporary drinking water certificate renewals. Topics discussed by the group included acceptable reasons for the issuance of a temporary certificate renewal, compliance, implementation of the new process and stakeholder communications.
The group was provided with an overview of the upcoming new drinking water operator training guide. In particular changes to activities that are accepted as on-the-job practical training for Class 1 to 4 operators and Water Quality Analysts, and Limited System Operators were presented and discussed.
The MOECC informed the group that an operator’s drinking water certificate and wastewater licence were recently revoked. The revocations follow a conviction of charges under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Ontario Water Resources Act.
Roman Martiuk, formerly the CAO of the Town of Orillia, has been appointed the new CEO for the Walkerton Clean Water Centre (WCWC).
The WCWC walked the group through the draft mandatory renewal course outline. The course name will be “Diligence in Drinking Water Operations” and will include the following modules:

  1. Record Keeping and Due Diligence
  2. Recognizing Drinking Water Hazards
  3. Emergency Response
  4. Distribution Cleaning and Water Quality
The MOECC attended a meeting of Provincial regulators in September. The purpose of the annual meeting is to discuss labour mobility and standardization of certification program standards. The group was provided with an overview of the discussions that took place on topics including: Certification Exams, Canadian Best Practices, Certifying Operators in other Provinces and facility classifications.
The MOECC is interested in taking part in the Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) certification program review in late 2015 or 2016. The ABC program review details where the program meets, beats of falls short of ABC’s standards.
The group discussed the importance of online and correspondence courses for operator training. WCWC states that they are working on providing additional online courses to meet the demand for these courses.
OWWCO provided an update on Customer Service calls and application statistics. Since OWWCO installed their new automated phone system 95% of calls are answered by a customer service representative, which has resulted in a decrease in the number of voicemails.
The MOECC presented the details of the proposed changes to 6-month temporary renewals. The topics included the reasons that the Director would consider for issuing a temporary certificate, the potential implications of the new process to operators, owners and operating authorities and the ministry’s plan for communicating the new process to stakeholders.
A new guide to drinking water operator training is in development that will incorporate training elements from various guidelines with the intent to provide information in clear language. The guide will cover certificate renewals, the certificate training cycles, and different types of training.
Renewal notifications sent to operators three months prior to the expiry of their drinking water certificates will be modified to include a statement informing the operator whether or not training needs to be submitted with the renewal application for the certificate. The goal of the enhancements to drinking water renewal notifications is to clarify when training needs to be submitted and to reduce paper usage for drinking water renewals.
MOECC will be creating a new guideline on Director approved continuing education specifically for training providers.
A draft guidance document on Operator-in-Training (OIT) Oversight was provided to the group for comment. The draft provides information on different situations and examples of methods of providing oversight to OIT that could allow an OIT to work alone. Topics such as Operator-in-Charge (OIC), oversight/monitoring, operational duties and consideration for small and large systems were discussed. Feedback was requested from the group.
An update on the development of the 2015-2017 Mandatory Renewal Course was provided. An advisory group made up of municipal and operating authority representatives was established in April to review and provider recommendations on the course.
Canadian standardized wastewater exam pass rates were discussed with the group. The Canadian standardized wastewater exams have undergone a slight emphasis change to include more math and situational questions requiring experience to answer.
The MOECC will be attending the annual meeting of provincial regulators in September. The purpose of the meeting is to help standardize certification across Canada. Provinces and territories are not required to adopt these common practices, but the goal is to move towards a standardized model for certification programs.
OWWCO made a presentation of their accomplishments from 2009 to 2014. The success factors discussed included: Superior customer service, commitment to consistent and accurate reviews, timely processing of applications, maintaining a strong relationship with the operator community and continual improvement.
The MOE presented proposed changes to 6-month temporary renewals. The current rate of issuance of temporary renewal certificates is high. As a result, the ministry is introducing a process that will (1) Reflect the regulatory requirement for certificate renewal, and (2) Address the need to increase operator awareness of training requirements to improve training compliance.
MOE inspectors are encountering issues related to Operator-in-Training (OIT) oversight. The MOE is looking for assistance in putting together guidance for municipalities to define what type of oversight an OIT would need in order to work alone. The topic was discussed and the MOE requested additional feedback from the group.
The pilot project to streamline drinking water renewals, which launched in February, 2011 involved 9 municipalities participating in a streamlining process for submitting drinking water renewals.

A third of the applications submitted included inaccurate documentation. The issues have result in an increased processing time for these renewal applications. The MOE plans to confirm the continued involvement of those municipalities involved, and to work with OWWCO and the municipalities involved to resolve the issues.

The MOE is looking to move to an audit based assessment process to streamline the renewal process for both municipalities and OWWCO. The MOE’s long term vision is to expand the project to include other municipalities and operating authorities.

MOE will be discontinuing OIT exam sessions at municipal sites as of April 1, 2014. Additional exam sessions will be offered in 2014 at regular Program Administrator sites, and colleges will continue to offer exams for their students.

There will be an exam option for those who have difficulty reaching an administrator site. The MOE and OWWCO are drafting a process for setting up exams at approved sites.

WCWC presented the draft course outline for the 2015 – 2017 Mandatory Renewal Course. Suggestions for topics from the OCWG and from the OWWCO surveys were considered when drafting the new outline.
John Stager is the new Chair of the Board of Directors for the WCWC.

WCWC provided an updated on upcoming training events including DWQMS workshops to be held throughout the province, as well as several Maintenancefest dates.

The Ministry informed the group that as of April 1, 2014, OIT exam sessions will only be held at official Program Administrator exam sites and will no longer be allowed to be invigilated at municipal sites. The changes are being implemented to protect the integrity of exams and to ensure that standardized invigilation practices are followed.

The Ministry proposed that an additional 11 examination sites would be added to the 2014 exam schedule. In addition the OIT exams will be delivered in both the morning and evening exam sessions.

The MOE indicated that in special circumstances, testing at an alternate approved invigilator site may be allowed. The municipalities would be responsible for making any arrangements and covering the costs of this approved invigilator. OWWCO and the Ministry are exploring the options for invigilators that may be used in these circumstances.

OWWCO presented a summary of the results from their operator survey conducted in August 2013. Overall the results indicated that operators felt they received good or excellent customer service from OWWCO. Some of the comments collected through the survey will assist in the improvement of the program including: opportunities for improvement to OWWCO’s website, suggestions for topics for the Ministry’s next mandatory renewal course and Operator Certification Bulletin.
The next mandatory renewal course is scheduled for release in 2015. The Ministry has been collecting suggestions for topics to include in the next version of the course for drinking water operators.
The WCWC has issued an RFP for Trainers for course development and delivery, and has renewed their agreement for the mobile training units (MTUs) which deliver off-site training.

Maintenancefest was held in August and was very successful. WCWC is using the same concept for small systems training (e.g., for trailer parks, campgrounds) and will offer two-hour hands on modules at their Mini Maintenancefest on October 23 and 24.

Key revisions to Guideline 2.4: Drinking Water OIT Certificate Requirements were presented to the group. The changes to the guideline were proposed to help clarify the processes for various situations an OIT could find themselves in, as well as to give more options to restart a certificate if an OIT has already exhausted their renewal options (already renewed their DW OIT once), or their certificate has expired and they do not have any operating experience. The Ministry plans to finalize the guideline in the next few months.

The Ministry also proposes to revise Guideline 3.7: Exam Accommodations to clarify the process for requesting an exam accommodation.

MOE presented a summary of disciplinary measures taken against operators in the past six months which included certificate revocations and suspensions. These were in response to incidents where operators: forged/falsified documents; failed to perform basic tests; failed to report adverse incidents; lied to municipalities; failed to conduct chlorine residual tests etc.

It was suggested that a learning component be added to the next version of the mandatory renewal course, to reinforce the seriousness and repercussions of unethical behaviour.

The Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) proposed that exams should be converted to the Canadian standardized exams by 2015. These standardized exams will not be allowed to be modified by individual jurisdictions.

The ABC standardized exams will not contain specific regulatory questions for Ontario, so the Ontario Drinking Water examinations may need to include two parts: the standard ABC exam and an Ontario-specific module.


Wastewater exams were converted to the North American ABC standard in 2012. By 2015, all operator certification exams, except Limited Systems and OIT exams, will be standardized.

The Working Group began a review of Guideline 4.3: On-the-Job (OTJ) Training Criteria.

The current guideline does not provide enough specific examples of the types of training that are accepted as OTJ practical training.

The Ministry’s Entry Level Drinking Water Operator Course was last updated in 2010. The course is being reviewed and revisions to the course are planned for 2014.

The Ministry asked the working group for any suggestions for topics for the next Mandatory Renewal course. Some suggestions submitted included: emergency response, record keeping and disinfecting watermains.

The Professional Wastewater Operator (PWO) Committee of WEAO has convened a new Wastewater Operator Training Advisory Committee. The purpose of the committee is to assess the skills required by operators and to develop a suitable training curriculum to organize and better train the operators and maintainers of Ontario’s wastewater facilities.
The On-the-Job Practical Training and Continuing Education guidelines were last revised in 2010. The Ministry would like to begin a review of the guidelines later in the year and is seeking preliminary comments from the working group.
The operator renewal application pilot project began in January 2011. During the pilot, municipalities were asked to send in training summaries for operators instead of having them submit all training documentation.

The results of the pilot project had both positive and negative findings. The pilot did help streamline processes for municipalities; however, OWWCO experienced several challenges, with the summaries received, including: inconsistencies in formats, missing trainer names, duplicate course entries, and other issues which resulted in longer processing and verification times for many operator renewal applications.

As a result, the Ministry will discontinue the current pilot project, but will request feedback from the participating municipalities on suggestions for moving forward.

There have been concerns around maintaining the integrity of the OIT Exam when it is held at a municipal site. The Ministry had presented several options to the working group and requested feedback. The Ministry decided that to ensure the integrity of the process that OIT exams would no longer be offered at municipal sites beginning in early 2014.

Exam sessions will be increased to ensure that exams are offered every 3 months at exam sites in all areas of the province and exam sessions at colleges will still be available.

OWWCO provided a summary of the results of their customer service call log statistics and went over some of the key issues people call in about. They use these stats to help direct their education/outreach efforts.
Operator statistics for 2012 were presented including the number of Class 3 and 4 operators over a period of 2007 to 2012.  In general, the number of operators has increased in 2012 from previous years.
The preliminary results of an OWWA survey were presented to the working group. The survey was sent to 83 municipalities and asked questions about how Overall Responsible Operators were designated within the municipalities. Once the survey results are finalized, an update will be provided to the working group.
The Ministry provided the group with a summary of recent non-compliance incidents involving operators, related to exam security, falsification of certification applications, and negligence/falsifying of operational records. The potential disciplinary actions being taking by the Ministry were also discussed.

A Standard Operating Procedure for the Ministry’s use, has been developed to outline the types of penalties that the Director would assign to each type of misconduct. This will allow the MOE to set out more consistent and defensible disciplinary actions

An OWWA survey is being distributed to its members related to Overall Responsible Operator requirements. Feedback and results from the survey will be presented at the next OCWG meeting and will be considered by the Ministry when revisiting the draft ORO and Operator Experience Guidelines.
An overview of a draft OMBI Report on Operator Certification and Training Succession Planning and Retention, prepared in conjunction with Ontario Municipal Knowledge Network was presented to the group.
The Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) will be implementing policy changes regarding the use of their standardized exams. This may allow less flexibility for the Ministry to incorporate Ontario-specific content.
ABC Model Standards of Operator Certification are to be finalized later this year. They provide a model for all states and provinces to use as a reference for their certification programs to work towards. The Ministry will not necessarily align Ontario’s certification program to meet the ABC Model standard requirements but will consider them when making future changes to the program.
The MOE’s Mandatory Entry-Level Drinking Water Course is being offered in French in March in Ottawa. Walkerton Clean Water Centre and the Ministry would like to improve access to French training where demand exists.

The Ministry also wants to ensure applicants are aware that certification exams are available in be written in French.

The Ministry is beginning to plan for the next version of the Mandatory Renewal Course and is requesting suggestions for potential topics.
OWWCO discussed the results of their recent 2013 stakeholder survey and introduced the new Drinking Water and Wastewater renewal tip sheets that are being sent out to operators with their renewal notices.
If an operator does not have the required training completed to meet the requirements for them to renew their drinking water certificate, they may apply for a 6 month extension.

The Ministry is seeking feedback and implementation strategies from industry and stakeholders on proposed changes to when a 6 month extension should be issued.             It is proposed that applicants will need to have completed a substantial portion of their training, before they would be granted this extension.

A review of suggested changes to facility classification guidance was presented.             Revisions will be included in a draft Guideline for Completing Certification and Classification Forms for comment.
The draft Guideline 2.4: Drinking Water Operator-In-Training Requirements was presented with a new format better geared to those just entering the industry.
The Ministry is transferring its municipal wastewater inspection responsibilities from Environmental Officers to Drinking Water Inspectors as of April 1st, 2013.
Revisions to the Guideline 2.4: Drinking Water Operator-In-Training Requirements were presented to the group and feedback requested. The revisions were proposed to provide additional guidance for OITs that have had their certificates expire before they have gained the required experience.
The Ministry is reviewing certification program fees. Program fees have been set since 2004 and currently do not cover the full cost of the program.
The MOE is planning to review Guideline 4.3 On-the-Job Practical Training Criteria for 2013.
The Ministry conducted an assessment to determine if all certificates/licences for one operator could be set to expire on the same date. This would be complicated due to the need to maintain the training checks associated with drinking water certificates and because the expiry dates would change when certificates are upgraded.

No changes are proposed at this time however the Ministry will revisit this item in the future.

The MOE is reviewing the current ORO and Operator Experience Guideline. Proposed changes will be available for comment soon.
OWWCO Activity Report was presented including a breakdown of customer service call log statistics by topic.

OWWCO may offer stakeholder workshops aimed at clarifying how to properly submit application forms annually.

Updated versions of many of the certification forms were released: http://www.ene.gov.on.ca/environment/dwo/en/news/STDPROD_100929.html

As of Jan. 1, 2013, emailed applications will not be accepted but faxed and mailed applications will still be accepted. Upgrade forms are still under review. The guidance for completing facility classifications forms is also being revised.

The finalized MOE Water and Wastewater Operator Certification & Exam Code of Conduct will be piloted in Dec 2012 with rollout of the code proposed for Spring 2013.

A Standard Operating Procedure is also being developed to detail the penalties that the Director will assign to each type of misconduct. (e.g. Cheating on an exam; failing to exercise the level of care, diligence and skill while operating)

The Operator Certification Bulletin has a planned release date of early December.
The Career in Water “Get Wet” Video Contest submission deadline is November 17. (www.acareerinwater.ca)
The MOE presented an overview of the Canadian Water and Wastewater Operator Certification Best Practices and how they relate to Ontario’s current practices.

The Canadian Operator Certification Best Practices were based on the Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) Program Standards.


WEAO and OWWA representatives provided comments from their associations on the options presented in the risk assessment related to the designation of Overall Responsible Operators (ORO).

The MOE is planning to schedule a meeting with representatives from various associations to further the discussions on the ORO options.


OWWCO presented results of the 2012 Operator Survey conducted in March. The survey provides the Ministry and OWWCO with valuable feedback on the program and helps to identify areas for improvement.
OWWCO is planning a Stakeholder’s Workshop on June 4, 2012 for municipal representatives. The purpose of the workshop is to provide guidance and tips on how to fill out certification application forms.
The MOE proposed a subcommittee be convened to help review the guidance materials for facility classification with an aim of addressing how to classify new technologies not referenced within Regulations 128/04 and 129/04 and to provide additional clarification when filling in forms.
The working group continued discussions on the proposed clarifications for operational experience. The MOE will schedule another meeting of the Subcommittee on Operator Experience to provide input on drafting revisions to the Guidelines (Guideline 3.4: Experience as a Drinking Water Operator, and Guideline 3.4b Experience as a Wastewater Operator.
A new guidance manual is available on the Drinking Water Ontario website (March 2012) for owners and operators of municipal and non-municipal non-residential systems who receive transported water and maintain cisterns.
Upcoming events at WCWC:

  • Summer at the Centre
  • Maintenance Fest to be held August 28th and 29th. In addition there are plans for Regional Maintenance Fests throughout the province.
  • WCWC working on advanced training for Class 3 and 4 operators

Other courses offerings: DWQMS workshop and Standard of Care

The Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) Canadian standardized exam for the Class II and III Wastewater Treatment (WWT) exams were released in October, 2011 and the Class I and IV exams in December 2011.  The wastewater need-to-know guides were updated at the same time as the exams were converted.  The “Need to Know” guides are available to help operators understand where to focus their studies.

The Water Treatment exams are scheduled to be converted in 2012 and the need-to-know for water will also be updated at that time.

OWWCO updated the group on steps that have been taken to increase operator certification examination security.
OWWCO will distribute their annual Operator’s Survey in March.  The survey will contain questions related to customer service, feedback on their website and suggestions for the Operator Certification Bulletin.

OWWCO has also been working to refresh their website.   The feedback received from operators and other stakeholders will be used to help improve the design and content.

The MOE presented several possible options for increasing the security of the administration of the Operator-In-Training (OIT) exams at municipal sites.  These included the possibility of changing from hard-copy (paper) exam formats to an on-line exam.
A risk assessment on the designation of Overall Responsible Operators (ORO) was presented to the group for discussion.  The assessment was also presented to the Water and Wastewater Operations Management Forum on November 29th, 2011 for comment.
A draft “Operating Experience Clarification” table had been posted in the November, 2011 Operator Certification Bulletin for comment. The MOE presented a summary of the stakeholder feedback received.

The Operational Experience Subcommittee will be re-established to continue the review and clarification of operational experience.

When submitting applications for upgrades, operators will have the option to use job descriptions ‘on-file’ rather than submitting a job description for each application.

Operators would still be required to submit a list of the operational duties performed on their application.  The MOE and OWWCO will set out clear quality control standards and prescribed intervals for updating the information.  Once finalized, additional communications will be sent to municipalities to inform them of this option.

The new mandatory renewal course “Treating and Distributing Safe Drinking Water” was piloted on January 9th. The 2012 schedule for the course has been posted on the Walkerton Clean Water Centre’s (WCWC) website.
WCWC has established two new committees to support key functions at the Centre:

  • The Training Advisory Committee (TAC)
  • Research Advisory Committee (RAC)