Operators

Who Are Operators?

In Ontario, persons performing operational duties in a regulated drinking water system or wastewater facility – whether it’s municipally or privately owned – are required to hold a valid operator certificate or licence to perform their duties. Below are three main operator categories and the types of systems/facilities they work in:

  1. Drinking Water Operators –water treatment, distribution, or distribution and supply subsystems;
  2. Wastewater Operators –wastewater treatment or collection facilities;
  3. Limited System Operators –small drinking water systems (e.g. mobile parks, camp grounds, designated facilities) whose source water is either surface or groundwater.

Certified operators are responsible for performing such duties as: conducting operational checks; adjusting, testing, or evaluating a process that controls the effectiveness or efficiency of a drinking water subsystem or wastewater facility; adjusting or directing flow, pressure, or quality of water or wastewater.

Individuals who only conduct drinking water testing services must still be certified. They require a Water Quality Analyst (WQA) certificate. While WQAs are not considered “operators”, they can perform a limited number of drinking water testing services which can also be performed by certified operators.

Different Types of Certificates and Licences

Within drinking water systems and wastewater facilities, individuals may be certified in 7 different types of subsystems:

  • Water Treatment,
  • Water Distribution and Supply,
  • Water Distribution,
  • Wastewater Treatment,
  • Wastewater Collection,
  • Limited Surface Water, and
  • Limited Groundwater

These subsystems may employ different types of operators, ranging from new operators who hold an Operator-in-Training (OIT) certificate, to those who have progressed through higher class levels and are generally required to operate more complex systems and facilities.

Individuals who only conduct drinking water testing services must still be certified. They require a Water Quality Analyst (WQA) certificate.

Drinking water systems and wastewater facilities are classified according to their relative operational complexity, based on a scale of Class 1 to 4 (with “1” being the simplest and “4” the most complex). Operator certificates and licences are leveled in the same way. The certification and training requirements for each class of certificate and licence are directly related to the classification of the system or facility they work in.

Operators wishing to upgrade to a higher class of certificates and licences must pass additional exams and acquire more training and experience.

Most operators hold multiple types of certificates or licences as they operate in multiple subsystems, such as water treatment AND water distribution, however, an operator can only hold one certificate or licence of each type. For example, an operator with a Class 2 Water Treatment certificate cannot also hold the Class 1 Water Treatment certificate. In addition, operators may only upgrade to a higher class if they hold the lower class certificate or licence. The chart below illustrates all of the possible certificates and licences that may be required to operate and/or provide testing services in the province of Ontario.

The chart illustrates all of the possible certificates and licences that may be required to operate and/or provide testing services in the province of Ontario.

Getting Your Certificate or Licence for the First Time

This page is for individuals who are looking to obtain their Operator-in-Training (OIT) certificate or licence, Limited certificate, or Water Quality Analyst (WQA) certificate for the first time. After having read the Who are Operators? section of this website, you should have a basic idea of which certificate(s) or licence(s) you wish to obtain.

Overview

Regardless of what types of systems/facilities you plan on operating, all certificates and licences require the following:

  1. Proof of grade 12 or equivalent*;
  2. Successful completion (70% or higher) of the relevant exam.

*If you have education other than an Ontario Secondary School Diploma, are unsure if your education can be accepted for proof of grade 12, or are applying for a Limited certificate, please see Guideline 3.1 available in the Detailed Guidance Documents section for more information.

The basic steps for obtaining your certificate or licence are illustrated below:

The basic steps for obtaining your certificate or licence

Please note that the above is NOT a detailed list of all the steps needed for each certificate or licence. Continue reading for a more comprehensive explanation.

Steps to Becoming an OIT, Limited Operator, or WQA
Operators-in-Training
Background Operator-in-Training (OIT) certificates and licences are for those who wish to work in one or more of the following areas:

  • Water Treatment
  • Water Distribution or Distribution and Supply
  • Wastewater Treatment
  • Wastewater Collection

An individual holding an OIT certificate or licence is considered an operator and can obtain valid operational experience to upgrade to a class 1.

The OIT Exam To obtain your OIT certificate/licence in one or more of the four system/facility types, you must first apply to write the OIT exam by completing the Operator-in-Training Examination Registration Form. With your application you will need to provide proof of grade 12 or equivalent and submit a payment.

In addition to 40 general questions, the OIT exam consists of four sections or modules: Water Treatment, Water Distribution/Supply, Wastewater Treatment and Wastewater Collection.

Each module corresponds to a type of drinking water certificate or wastewater licence. For example, if you choose to only write the wastewater treatment module and pass it, you are only eligible for the wastewater treatment licence. You may choose to write any combination of the above modules from one to all four in a single exam session, however, the exam is marked as a whole and you will receive a single mark. Passing the exam allows you to obtain the certificate or licence for each module you wrote.

Regardless of how many modules you choose, the examination is 3 hours in length, and the fee to write the exam remains the same. See the fees and forms in the Application Fees, Process, and Forms section below. You must indicate which modules you would like to write in Part B of the Operator-in-Training Examination Form.

Exam applications must be submitted at least one month in advance of the date you wish to write. You can view upcoming examination dates on the OWWCO Examination Schedule.

Study manuals for the OIT exam are available for purchase through the OWWCO office. Please visit our Examination Study Guide Store for further details.

Submit your completed Operator-in-Training Exam Registration Form by mail or fax to:

Ontario Water Wastewater Certification Office
295 The West Mall, Suite 302
Etobicoke, ON M9C 4Z4
Fax: (416) 231-2107

When applying to write the OIT exam, you may also apply for your OIT certificate(s) by completing Part C of the Operator-in-Training Examination Form. Payment can be made by Visa, MasterCard, cheque, or money order. If paying by cheque or money order, please make the payment out to the Minister of Finance.

Exam applications may take up to 30 days to process, and OIT certificate issuance may take up to 7 business days on receipt of a COMPLETE application and payment of the correct fee.   Incomplete applications may be returned.

Getting your Drinking Water OIT Certificates and Wastewater OIT Licences To get your OIT certificate(s) and licence(s), you must apply for them. This can be done in one of two ways:

  1.  by submitting the Operator in Training Certificate and Licence Issuing Form after you have written and passed either of the drinking water modules of the OIT exam; or,
  2. by completing Part E of the Operator-in-Training Examination Registration Form at the time you are applying to register for the OIT exam (see the section above: The OIT Exam)

Wastewater OIT licences are valid for 3 years and may be renewed at the end of that period regardless of whether you have gained operational experience or not.

If you are applying for your OIT certificate or licence after you have passed the exam, submit your completed Operator-in-Training Certificate and Licence Issuing form by mail or fax to:

Ontario Water Wastewater Certification Office
295 The West Mall, Suite 302
Etobicoke, ON M9C 4Z4
Fax: (416) 231-2107

See the fees and forms in the Application Fees, Process, and Forms section below for information on the cost of each OIT certificate or licence. Payment can be made by Visa, MasterCard, cheque, or money order. If paying by cheque or money order, please make the payment out to the Minister of Finance.

OIT certificates may take up to 7 business days to process on receipt of a COMPLETE application and payment of the correct fee. Incomplete applications may be returned.

Drinking Water OIT certificates are valid for 3 years and may only be renewed once with a valid Entry Level Course (ELC) certificate.

OIT timeline

The Mandatory Entry Level Course The Entry Level Course (ELC) is required for all drinking water operators. Click HERE for more information.
Next Steps Once your OIT certificates or licences have been issued, you are eligible to obtain operational experience. A minimum of one year of experience is required for any Class 1 certificate or licence. For example, if you are working in water treatment, you must have one year of operational experience in water treatment under a valid water treatment OIT certificate before you can consider upgrading to a Class 1. Visit the Upgrading Your Certificate/Licence section of our website for more information.

Please note: Rewriting the OIT examination will not result in the reissuance of an expired certificate. See Guideline 2.4 – Drinking Water OIT Requirements for more information.

Once you have obtained your certificate or license, you are eligible to register to use the Operator Workforce Matching Portal to let system owners seeking staffing resources know that you are available for employment. Qualified operators must register with their contact information and certification credentials to become validated. Once registration is complete, system owners will be able to search for operator profiles by certificate type, availability and location, and can directly contact operators with potential employment opportunities.

Follow these links for more information:

Small Systems Operators
Background Not all operators work in large municipal systems. If you operate or intend to operate one of the systems in the chart below, you may be required to obtain a trained person designation, or Limited System certificate.

If you work in… You need a…
A small non-municipal non-residential system serving a designated facility Trained Person designation
A small municipal non-residential system serving a designated facility
A non-municipal seasonal residential system serving a designated facility
A small municipal residential system (groundwater only) Limited System certificate (or relevant OIT certificate*)
A non-municipal year-round residential system
A large non-municipal non-residential system serving a designated facility
A large municipal non-residential system serving a designated facility

*A drinking water OIT may operate a limited subsystem if they are under the supervision of an Overall Responsible Operator and Operator-in-Charge who holds or is deemed to hold a limited subsystem certificate for that type of limited subsystem.

If you will not be operating a facility, but plan to take chlorine residual or turbidity tests in one of the systems below, you may be required to become a supervised person.

Additional information on Limited System operators, trained persons, and supervised persons are available in the Small Water System section of this website.

Water Quality Analysts
Background Any water testing and/or analysis prescribed by O. Reg. 170/03 must be done by a person or laboratory holding a ‘drinking water testing services’ licence issued by the ministry. However, a Water Quality Analyst certificate allows the holder to conduct testing for the 24 operational parameters listed under subsection 2(1) of the Drinking Water Testing Services regulation, O. Reg. 248/03, which can be done by a qualified person (e.g. testing for chlorine residual, turbidity, alkalinity, pH).

Please note: a “qualified person” includes a certified drinking water operator (including an operator-in-training), and a water quality analyst (WQA).

The Exam To be eligible for a WQA certificate, you must successfully write the WQA examination as well as complete a ministry approved course for WQAs before applying for your certificate. Information on these courses can be found in Guideline 3.3 in the Detailed Guidance Documents section of this page.

Exam applications must be submitted at least one month in advance of the date you wish to write. You can view upcoming examination dates on the OWWCO examination schedule available here. Information on the examination process can be found on our Writing an Examination page.

Next Steps The Director will issue a WQA certificate provided the applicant meets all the qualifying requirements.

Please see the Upgrading Your Certificate/Licence section of our website for more information on the requirements to obtain a WQA certificate and how to submit your application.

Once you have obtained your certificate or license, you are eligible to register to use the Operator Workforce Matching Portal to let system owners seeking staffing resources know that you are available for employment. Qualified operators must register with their contact information and certification credentials to become validated. Once registration is complete, system owners will be able to search for operator profiles by certificate type, availability and location, and can directly contact operators with potential employment opportunities.

Follow these links for more information:

Application Forms and Fees

Here you will find the forms mentioned in this section along with the fees for each of the above mentioned types of certificates and licences.

FORMS AND FEES FOR CERTIFICATE/LICENCE REQUESTED
Type of Certificate/Licence Drinking Water OIT Certificate Wastewater OIT Licence Limited System Certificate WQA Certificate Reciprocity Certificate/Licence
Exam Form 2130E – Examination Registration
Form 2130E – Examination Registration
Form 2130E – Examination Registration
Form 2130E – Examination Registration
N/A
Issuing Form 2132E– Operator-in-Training Certificate and Licence Issuance Form 2132E– Operator-in-Training Certificate and Licence Issuance Form 2136 E– Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Application Form 2136 E– Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Application Form 2136 E– Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Application
Fees
Exam $50 $50 $140 $140 N/A
Issuing $40 $40 $150 $175 $175
Detailed Guidance Documents

The ministry provides a number of guidance documents to help you understand various aspects of the Drinking Water and Wastewater Operator Certification Program.

If you need more information about any of the requirements to obtain your certificate or licence, or if you feel your situation does not fall into the above categories (i.e., you work part time, work in multiple types of facilities, etc.), the following documents may provide you with clarification.

Certification Guide for Operators and Water Quality Analysts of Drinking Water Systems Review this guide for information on the requirements for a drinking water operator or water quality analyst.
Licensing Guide for Operators of Wastewater Facilities Review this guide for information on the requirements for a wastewater operator.
Entry-Level Course for Drinking Water Operators A fact sheet with information on the Entry Level Course (ELC) required for Class 1 drinking water operators.
Guideline 2.4 – Drinking Water OIT Requirements This guideline provides information on the requirements to renew or restart Drinking Water OIT certificates.
Guideline 3.1 – Grade 12 Equivalency If you are unsure if your education meets the requirements for grade 12, review this guideline to see what can be considered equivalent.
Guideline 3.3 – WQA Experience and Director Approved Course This guideline outlines the experience and training requirements to obtain a WQA certificate.
Guideline 3.9 – Trained Person Designation This guideline defines how to obtain and maintain a trained person designation.
Guideline 3.11 – Exam Result Validity Defines the length of time an exam result remains valid for.
Guide to Drinking Water Operator Training Requirements Explains the training requirements and process to renew Water Quality and Drinking Water certificates (Class 1 – 4 and Limited Systems).
Preparing for Your Exam Includes a list of the appropriate study materials for each type of exam.
Required Qualifications to Operate, Test or Sample Drinking Water Systems Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002 A detailed chart which details who may perform certain duties.
Steps to Become a Limited System Operator Step-by-step procedures on how to become a Limited operator.
Steps to Become a Supervised Person Step-by-step procedures on how to become a Supervised person.
Steps to Become a Trained Person Step-by-step procedures on how to become a Trained person.

Upgrading Your Certificate or Licence

In Ontario, there are five different classes of certificates and licences for operators of classified drinking water or wastewater systems, beginning at the Operator-in-Training level. Operators can obtain a higher level Class 1, 2, 3 or 4 operator’s certificate or licence by fulfilling specific experience and education requirements. Generally, the higher the class, the more experience and education is required.

This page is for operators looking to upgrade their current certificate or licence to a Class 1, 2, 3, or 4. It includes information on the steps to obtain a higher level of certification, the different requirements for each class of certification, information on the application process and fees, and the forms you are required to complete and submit.

If you want to find out how to get your very first certificate or licence in Ontario (i.e. how to become an Operator-in-Training), please visit the Getting Your Certificate or Licence for the First Time page.

Steps to Obtaining a Higher Level Certificate or Licence

Upgrade_Diagram

To upgrade to a higher level certificate or licence, you must complete the following:

Requirements

All classes of certification, regardless of the level, require the following:

  1. proof of grade 12 or equivalent (if not previously submitted);
  2. successful completion (70% or higher) of the relevant exam; and
  3. operational experience gained under a valid certificate/licence.

Post-secondary education or Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are required for Class 3 and 4. For specific requirements of each class of certificate or licence, click on the appropriate tab below.

If you want to find out how to get your very first certificate or licence in Ontario (i.e. how to become an Operator-in-Training), please visit the Getting Your Certificate or Licence for the First Time page.

Class 1
Education or CEUs For Drinking Water certificates, completion of the Entry Level Drinking Water Operator Course (ELC).
Operating Experience 1 year operational experience (no substitutions are allowed).
Class 2
Operating Experience 3 years operational experience
Experience Substitutions Up to 50% of the operational experience requirements (1 year 6 months) can be substituted by using CEUs
Class 3
Education or CEUs 2 years of relevant post-secondary education (90 CEUs)
Operating Experience 4 years operational experience
OIC Experience 2 years in a Class 2, 3, or 4 system
Experience Substitutions Up to 50% of the operational experience requirements (2 years) can be substituted by using CEUs above the minimum 90 required OR using experience gained in a different type of system at a ratio
CEU Substitutions Up to 50% of the CEU requirement (45 CEUs) can be substituted by using OIC experience above the minimum 2 years required
Class 4
Education or CEUs 4 years of relevant post-secondary education (180 CEUs)
Operating Experience 4 years operational experience
OIC Experience 2 years in a Class 3, or 4 system
Experience Substitutions Up to 50% of the operational experience requirements (2 years) can be substituted by using CEUs above the minimum 180 required OR using experience gained in a different type of system at a ratio
CEU Substitutions Up to 50% of the CEU requirement (90 CEUs) can be substituted by using OIC experience above the minimum 2 years required
Water Quality Analyst
Education or CEUs 1 year of experience performing tests in a drinking water system OR completion of Director approved training
Conditional Certificates and Licences
Drinking Water Conditional Operator Certificate

The Director may issue a conditional operator certificate for operators holding any type and class of municipal residential subsystem certificate (except for an operator-in-training certificate) and for operators holding a limited subsystem certificate.

The Director may issue a conditional certificate if:

  1. the owner or operating authority that employs or has offered to employ the applicant satisfies the Director that they cannot obtain the services of an operator of the type and class required under this regulation (for example, if an owner of a Class III water treatment subsystem is unable to find an operator holding a Class III water treatment certificate); and
  2. the owner or operating authority gives both the applicant and the Director a written commitment to help the applicant comply with all the conditions of the subsystem; and
  3. the required fee is paid.

You must complete and submit a separate Conditional Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Application for each certificate or license you wish to request.

Wastewater Conditional Operator Licence

The Director may issue a conditional operator licence for operators holding any type and class of licence (except for an operator-in-training licence).

The Director may issue a conditional licence if:

  1. the owner or operating authority that employs or has offered to employ the applicant satisfies the Director that they cannot obtain the services of an operator of the type and class required under this regulation (for example, if an owner of a Class III wastewater treatment facility is unable to find an operator holding a Class III wastewater treatment licence); and
  2. the owner or operating authority gives both the applicant and the Director a written commitment to help the applicant comply with all the conditions of the facility; and
  3. the required fee is paid.

You must complete and submit a separate Conditional Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Application for each certificate or license you wish to request.

Application Fees, Process, and Forms

You must complete and submit a separate application form for each certificate or license you wish to hold.

FORMS AND FEES FOR CERTIFICATE/LICENCE REQUESTED
Type of Certificate/Licence Drinking Water Certificate Wastewater Licence WQA Certificate Reciprocity Certificate/Licence
Issuing Form Form 2136E – Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Application Form 2136E – Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Application Form 2136E – Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Application Form 2136E – Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Application
Fee $175 per certificate/licence requested

Please ensure that your application is complete by filling out all the required sections, providing the appropriate signatures, and including the required attachments and payment information.

Upgrade applications take up to 30 days to process on receipt of a COMPLETE application and payment of the correct fee. Incomplete applications may be returned.

Submit all applications to:

Ontario Water Wastewater Certification Office
295 The West Mall, Suite 302
Etobicoke, ON M9C 4Z4
Fax: (416) 231-2107

Payment is required with each completed application, and can be made by Visa, MasterCard, cheque, or money order. If paying by cheque or money order, please make the payment out to the Minister of Finance.

Q & A’s
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?

If you hold a valid Water Treatment OIT certificate, you can operate limited surface water or limited ground water systems. If you hold a valid Water Distribution and Supply OIT certificate, you 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 make substitutions for 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.

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.

I am a certified operator looking for employment opportunities. How can I make myself available to potential employers?

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks administers the Operator Workforce Matching Portal which is a free, online tool that helps connect system owners seeking staffing resources with certified operators who are available for employment. System owners with staffing needs are able to directly contact operators who register on the Portal with potential employment opportunities.

Follow these links for more information:

Detailed Guidance Documents

The following guidance documents can help you understand various aspects of the Drinking Water and Wastewater Operator Certification Program.

They cover different scenarios that may apply to you, e.g., you work as a part-time operator, or are a contractor etc.

Certification Guide for Operators and Water Quality Analysts of Drinking Water Systems Review this guide for information on the requirements for a drinking water operator or water quality analyst.
Licensing Guide for Operators of Wastewater Facilities Review this guide for information on the requirements for a wastewater operator.
Entry-Level Course for Drinking Water Operators A fact sheet with information on the Entry Level Course (ELC) required for Class 1 drinking water operators.
Guideline 3.3 – Water Quality Analyst Experience and Director Approved Course For those seeking to obtain a water quality analyst certificate, this guideline details the experience and education requirements.
Guideline 3.4 – Experience as a Drinking Water Operator This guideline outlines the experience requirements for a drinking water certificate, as well as the potential substitutions which could be made.
Guideline 3.4b – Experience as a Wastewater Operator This guideline outlines the experience requirements for a wastewater licence, as well as the potential substitutions which could be made.
Guideline 3.5 – Reciprocity Recognition of Certificates Obtained in Other Jurisdictions This guideline explains the process for having an out-of-province certificate or licence recognized in Ontario.
Guideline 3.10 – Accepted CEUs to Upgrade Certificates/Licences Review this guideline for further information on the types of CEUs which can be used for class 3 and 4 upgrade applications.
Guideline 5.1 – Overall Responsible Operator vs. Operator-in-Charge Read this if you require clarification on the different responsibilities of an ORO and an OIC.
Guideline 5.3 – Obtaining Experience for Contractors This guideline applies to operators who do not work on a full time basis for a municipality. Seasonal or part-time operators are not necessarily contract employees.

Renewing Your Certificate or Licence

Certificates and licences issued in Ontario are generally valid for a period of three years. If at the end of this period you would like to continue to hold the same class of certificate or licence, you are required to meet specific experience and training requirements, and you must apply to renew them. There are different requirements for drinking water certificates and wastewater licences.

As an operator, you are responsible for ensuring you renew your certificates and licences before they expire. If you continue to operate while holding an expired certificate or licence, you are out of compliance. As a reminder, courtesy renewal notifications are mailed to operators three months prior to a certificate or licence expiring. If you do not receive your renewal notice, you are still responsible for renewing your certificate and licence on time.

Renewal applications will only be processed within 3 months of the expiry of the current certificate or licence.

Steps to Renewing a Certificate or Licence

Chart showing steps to renew your licence or certicate

To renew an existing certificate or licence, you must:

  • meet the experience requirements;
  • meet the training requirements applicable to your type of certification;
  • complete and submit the appropriate application along with the fee and supporting documentation.
Drinking Water Certificate Renewal Requirements

All Class 1 – 4 drinking water certificates require the following to have been obtained within the last three years:

  1. a minimum of three months of valid operational or related experience;
  2. successful completion of the Mandatory Certificate Renewal Course; and,
  3. completion of the set number of Director Approved Continuing Education Units (CEUs), and on-the-job practical training.

The amount of training you are required to complete over the three year period is based on the highest class of drinking water facility you operate, not the certificate you are renewing. For example, if you are renewing your Class 2 Water Distribution certificate, but you also work in a Class 4 Water Treatment subsystem, your renewal requirements will be based on a Class 4 certificate. If you hold multiple certificates, training will only be checked for one of the certificates. Your renewal notification will indicate whether training is required to be submitted with your application.

If you plan on renewing a drinking water certificate, start by finding the highest class of drinking water facility you operate in the table below (regardless of the type) to see what your renewal requirements are.

Highest Class of Drinking Water Facility Operated
Class 1 Class 2 Class 3 Class 4 Limited WQA
Director Approved CEUs 2.1 3.6 4.2 4.2 2.1 2.1
On-the-Job Hours 69 69 78 108 39 39
Total 90 105 120 150 60 60

Additionally, every drinking water operator must complete the Mandatory Certificate Renewal Course within each renewal period. This course is coordinated by the Walkerton Clean Water Centre (WCWC) and is available in two formats: classroom and correspondence. The course content is changed every three years, and is meant to ensure that all operators are kept up to date on emerging issues within the industry. This course will count as part of the Director Approved CEU requirements as 0.7 continuing education units (CEUs) or 7 hours. For information on how to register for this course please visit the WCWC web site at www.wcwc.ca. Information is also available in the Detailed Guidance Documents section below.

Director Approved CEUs: only courses on the Director Approved Course Listing may be used to meet the requirements for Director Approved CEU training. Copies of your certificates of completion for these courses must be submitted along with your renewal application. Wastewater training cannot be used to renew drinking water certificates.

On-the-Job Training: on-the-job training must be documented and verified by your manager or supervisor if it is to be included in your renewal application. This can be done on the training record supplied with the application form, or on a signed training log, record or letter from your employer or training provider. If you do not have enough on-the-job training, you may substitute excess Director Approved CEU training to meet the requirements. Please note that 0.1 Director Approved CEU = 1 hour of on-the-job training.

If you are unsure that you meet the training requirements to renew your drinking water certificate, please visit the Detailed Guidance Documents section below for more information on what can be accepted.

Wastewater Licence Renewal Requirements

All wastewater licences require valid operational or related experience obtained in the last five years.

You do not need to submit records of completed training with your wastewater licence renewal application, however, owners shall ensure all operators employed in the facility are given 40 hours of training every year. Records of the training must be kept by the owner.

Completed training that is used to renew a drinking water certificate may be used to meet the 40 hours of training required for wastewater licences.

OIT Renewal Requirements

As drinking water and wastewater OITs fall under different regulations, there are different renewal requirements for each type. Please see the appropriate tab below for more information.

Drinking Water OITs

Drinking water OIT certificates expire after 36 months. Within this three year period it is expected that you will complete the requirements to upgrade to a Class 1 certificate.

If at the expiry of your Water Treatment or Water Distribution and Supply OIT certificate(s) you know you are not able to upgrade to a Class 1, you may be eligible to request a one-time three year certificate renewal from the ministry. Contact us for further information on how to proceed with your request.

Wastewater OITs

The intention of OIT certificates and licences is to allow you to gain experience to upgrade to a Class 1 licence, however, unlike Class 1-4 licences, wastewater OITs can be renewed without any training or experience.

To renew a wastewater licence you must:

  1. complete the Wastewater Operator-in-Training Licence Renewal Form;
  2. submit the application along with payment.

Once approved, the renewed OIT licence will be valid for a period of three years.

Application Fees, Process, and Forms

You must submit a separate renewal form for each certificate or licence you wish to renew. Review the forms listed below to find the appropriate one for your renewal:

FORMS AND FEES FOR RENEWAL REQUESTED
Type of Certificate/Licence Drinking Water Certificate (including Limited and WQA) Wastewater Licence Wastewater OIT Licence
Issuing Form Form 2135E – Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Renewal Application Form 2135E – Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Renewal Application Form 2135E – Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Renewal Application
Fees Class 1 – 4 $145 Class 1 – 4 $145 OIT $145
Limited $145
WQA $145
Late Fee $25

Before sending your renewal application, make sure:

  • All sections are filled out
  • All signatures are present and dated
  • Necessary documents are attached
  • Payment is included

Renewal applications take up to 21 days to process on receipt of a COMPLETE application and payment of the correct fee.  Incomplete applications may be returned.

Submit all applications to:

Ontario Water Wastewater Certification Office
295 The West Mall, Suite 302
Etobicoke, ON M9C 4Z4
Fax: (416) 231-2107

Payment is required with each completed application, and can be made by Visa, MasterCard, cheque, or money order. If paying by cheque or money order, please make the payment out to the Minister of Finance.

Q & A’s
How do I renew a drinking water certificate or wastewater licence which has expired?

Drinking Water Operator Certificate, Wastewater Operator Licence or Water Quality Analyst Certificate

If the renewal application is made within one year of the expiry date, the applicant must:

  • meet the normal renewal requirements;
  • pay a late renewal fee in addition to the normal renewal fee.

If the renewal application is to be made more than one year after the expiry date, please see the ‘Certification Guide for Operators and WQA of Drinking Water Systems’ and ‘Licensing Guide for Operators of Wastewater Facilities’.  These documents can be found on the ‘Detailed Guidance Documents’ dropdown menu in the renewals section of the OWWCO website.

What are Director Approved CEUs?

Courses which are Director Approved must meet certain training criteria and cover topics directly related to the 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 of training every calendar year.

Beginning January 1, 2022, the 40 hours of annual training may be averaged over each subsequent three-year period during which the operator is employed in a facility for a total of 120 hours of training every 3 years.

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.

I am a certified operator looking for employment opportunities. How can I make myself available to potential employers?

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks administers the Operator Workforce Matching Portal which is a free, online tool that helps connect system owners seeking staffing resources with certified operators who are available for employment. System owners with staffing needs are able to directly contact operators who register on the Portal with potential employment opportunities.

Follow these links for more information:

Detailed Guidance Documents

The following guidance documents can help you understand various aspects of the Drinking Water and Wastewater Operator Certification Program.

They cover different scenarios that may apply to you, e.g., if you are a trainer, were off work for an extended medical leave, etc.

Mandatory Renewal Course Fact Sheet – Safe Drinking Water Operator Essentials Effective January 1, 2021 the Mandatory Certificate Renewal Course 2021-2023 course will be delivered by the Walkerton Clean Water Centre.
Certification Guide for Operators and Water Quality Analysts of Drinking Water Systems Review this guide for information on the requirements for a drinking water operator or water quality analyst to renew.
Licensing Guide for Operators of Wastewater Facilities Review this guide for information on the requirements for a wastewater operator to renew.
Guide to Drinking Water Operator Training Requirements Read this guide for a detailed review of all the requirements to submit a renewal application.
Guideline 4.4 – Director Approved Continuing Education Guide for Training Providers This guideline details the types of training which can be considered for Director approval, as well as any limitations in place for this type of training.
Guideline 3.4 – Experience as a Drinking Water Operator This guideline outlines the experience requirements for a drinking water certificate, as well as the potential substitutions which could be made.
Guideline 3.4b – Experience as a Wastewater Operator This guideline outlines the experience requirements for a wastewater licence, as well as the potential substitutions which could be made.
Requirements for the Issuance of Drinking Water Operator and Water Quality Analyst Temporary Certificates This outlines the requirements for applying for a temporary drinking water certificate.
Drinking Water Renewal Tip Sheet Review this tip sheet for information when submitting your drinking water renewal application.
Wastewater Renewal Tip Sheet Review this tip sheet for information when submitting your wastewater renewal application.
Entry-Level Course for Drinking Water Operators A fact sheet with information on the Entry Level Course (ELC) required for Class 1 drinking water operators.

Replacement Certificates and Licences

If you no longer have the original copy of your operator certificate or licence, you can request a new copy through our office.

Replacement certificates and licences cost $75 each, and can take up to 14 days to be processed. The fee is payable by Visa, MasterCard, cheque, or money order. Incomplete requests may be returned.

Contact our Customer Service department by filling out our online form to request the Replacement Certificate or Licence Request Form.

Out-of-Province Applicants

Under the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), if you currently hold a valid certificate or licence in another province or territory, Ontario may issue you an identical certificate or licence. Here you will find the steps and requirements to obtain reciprocity for your certificate or licence.

Class 1 Drinking Water Certificates

For operators who wish to hold Class 1 Ontario drinking water certificates in the certification areas of Water Treatment, Water Distribution, or Water Distribution and Supply, you are required to complete either the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks Entry Level Drinking Water Operator Training Course or training considered equivalent prior to being issued a Class 1 Ontario certificate.

Steps to Obtain Reciprocity

In order to obtain reciprocity for your certificates, you are required to complete and submit the Reciprocity Application Form. Attach a copy of your valid certificate or licence from another province to the application and submit your request by mail or fax to:

Ontario Water Wastewater Certification Office
295 The West Mall, Suite 302
Etobicoke, ON M9C 4Z4
Fax: (416) 231-2107

The fee is $175 for each certificate or licence you are requesting and must be submitted with the completed application. Payment can be made by Visa, MasterCard, cheque, or money order. If paying by cheque or money order, please make the payment out to the Minister of Finance.

Applications may take up to 30 days to process on receipt of a COMPLETE application and payment of the correct fee. Incomplete applications may be returned.

Detailed Guidance Documents

The ministry provides a number of guidance documents to help you understand various aspects of the Drinking Water and Wastewater Operator Certification Program.

If you need more information about any of the requirements to obtain reciprocity for your certificate or licence, the following documents may provide you with clarification.

Certification Guide for Operators and Water Quality Analysts of Drinking Water Systems Review this guide for information on the requirements for a drinking water operator or water quality analyst.
Licensing Guide for Operators of Wastewater Facilities Review this guide for information on the requirements for a wastewater operator.
Entry-Level Course for Drinking Water Operators A fact sheet with information on the Entry Level Course (ELC) required for Class 1 drinking water operators.
Guideline 3.5 – Reciprocity Recognition of Certificates Obtained in Other Jurisdictions This guideline explains the process for having an out-of-province certificate or licence recognized in Ontario.
Required Qualifications to Operate, Test or Sample Drinking Water Systems Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2002 A detailed chart which details who may perform certain duties.

Writing an Examination

A passing mark of 70% or higher on the relevant examination is one of the qualifications required for all drinking water operator certificates and wastewater operator licences. To register for an examination, please see the instructions below and view the Exam Schedule.

For more information on getting started as an operator, please visit the Getting Your Certificate/Licence for the First Time page. For information on obtaining a Class 1 to 4, Water Quality Analyst, and Limited System certificate/licence, please visit the Upgrading Your Certificate/Licence page.

For more information on preparing for your exam, go to the Preparing for your Exam page.

Steps to Apply

For Operator-in-Training (OIT) examinations

If you are looking to write one or all of the Operator-in-Training (OIT) exams, please make sure that you do the following:

  1. Complete the Examination Registration form,
  2. Provide proof of grade 12 or equivalent*; and
  3. Submit your application at least four weeks before the exam date you wish to write.

For further details on obtaining your OIT, please visit the Getting Your Certificate/Licence for the First Time page.

For Class 1 to 4, Limited, and WQA examinations

If you are looking to write an examination to upgrade to a higher class of certificate or licence, please make sure that you do the following:

  1. Complete the Examination Registration form,
  2. Provide proof of grade 12 or equivalent*; and
  3. Submit your application at least four weeks before the exam date you wish to write.

For further details on obtaining your Class 1 to 4, Water Quality Analyst, and Limited System certificate/licence, please visit the Upgrading Your Certificate/Licence page.

*If you have education other than an Ontario Secondary School Diploma, or are unsure if your education can be accepted for proof of grade 12, please see Guideline 3.1 for more information. If your education is on file with a previous exam, you do not need to resubmit this with your current application.

Exam Cancellation 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 may 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.

Forms and Fees
FORMS AND FEES FOR EXAMINATION REQUESTED
Type of Exam Operator-in-Training Exam Class 1-4 Exam Limited System Exam WQA Exam
Form Examination Registration Form Examination Registration Form Examination Registration Form Examination Registration Form
Fee $50 $140 $140 $140
Employer-Site Online Operator-in-Training Certification Exams

Owners and operating authorities of municipal and First Nation drinking water and wastewater systems may request to host an employer-site online OIT exam session at their workplace.

If you are an employer looking to schedule an on-site OIT exam, read the Employer-Site Examination Protocol to find out how and apply online here. 

You can access the FAQs here.

Detailed Guidance Documents

The ministry provides a number of guidance documents to help you understand various aspects of the Drinking Water and Wastewater Operator Certification Program.

If you need more information about any of the requirements to write an examination, or if you feel your situation does not fall into the above categories, the following documents may provide you with clarification.

Guideline 3.1 – Grade 12 Equivalency If you are unsure if your education meets the requirements for grade 12, review this guideline to see what can be considered equivalent.
Guideline 3.11 – Exam Result Validity Defines the length of time an exam result remains valid for.
Guideline 3.7 – Exam Accommodations To inform operators and water quality analysts (WQA) on the policies regarding exam accommodations.
Code of Conduct Includes the code of conduct for written exams.
Preparing for Your Exam Includes a list of the appropriate study materials for each type of exam.