The need for qualified professionals to operate and maintain water and wastewater systems is becoming increasingly important as regulations and processes increase in complexity.  Proper operation and maintenance of utility systems require personnel that are trained and knowledgeable about drinking water and wastewater disposal systems, as well as the regulations governing their operation.  Federal and state regulations ensure that personnel have a certain minimum level of knowledge and experience through operator certification. Requirements for certification vary by State, as well as the size and type of system being operated.

The availability of reliable, safe drinking water is crucial to the operation of many parks that are located in remote areas and far from viable alternatives.  There is an ongoing demand for individuals that have the training and skill set to perform routine daily monitoring and maintenance activities, respond quickly to emergencies, be aware of any problems occurring in the system and develop and implement corrective actions.

The 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) directed the Environmental Protection Agency to issue guidelines specifying minimum standards for certification and recertification of operators of Public Water Systems (PWS).  States generally require a certain level of operator certification based on the size and type (community or non-community) of the PWS and/or the type of treatment, if any, used in the system.  Requirements generally include a certain amount of classroom training, on-the-job training and experience as well as requirements for continuing education.  As an individual advances, the training requirements also increase.  In addition, operator certifications must be renewed after a set time period and the continuing education requirements must be met for renewal.  Systems that serve fewer people are not covered by the SDWA, but do fall under NPS guidelines.  NPS guidelines are proactive and require disinfection on all water systems.  Typically a certified water operator is required to do such work, thus all NPS water operators should have some level of training or state certification to operator NPS water systems.

Wastewater treatment systems are also located in remote areas where municipal treatment systems are not available for wastewater disposal.  Operators must carefully monitor all wastewater collection and treatment systems to ensure they are operating as designed.  Problems must be identified and corrected before they result in failure that can damage resources or force facilities to be closed.  To align with the Organic Act, the NPS mission, and protect employee and visitor health it is crucial that all wastewater systems are properly operated and maintained.

NPS facilities must be installed, operated and monitored in compliance with Primacy Agency requirements.  The Clean Water Act (CWA) controls water pollution through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants to waters of the United States.  With few exceptions, the CWA and operator certification requirements for wastewater systems are administered by the States.  Not all systems will require an NPDES permit, however operator certifications are generally required for those individuals who operate large, centralized wastewater treatment plants and/or collection systems.

Onsite wastewater systems with primary treatment occurring in septic tanks typically do not require operator certification.  Because of the Organic Act and NPS mission it is imperative that operators of onsite systems have sufficient training and experience to ensure that these systems are adequately monitored and maintained to prevent failure.  Onsite systems are regulated by the States or local jurisdictions.


States must develop certification programs based on the EPA guidelines but may be more stringent.  State specific requirements can be found with the drinking water program of each State, which usually falls within the Department of Environmental Quality or similar division.  A summary of State and federal resources for operators is available online.

NPS Directors Order 83, RM 83 (A1) provides detailed guidance on compliance with the SDWA as well as additional requirements for operation of non-public water systems.

Information on wastewater treatment in small communities is also available online.

Links to individual State programs for wastewater operator certification and onsite system information.

NPS guidelines for wastewater can be found in Directors Oder 83, RM 83 (B1).

Learn More

Want to know more about the requirements for the job? Follow this link to view the standard Position Description Library, scroll down and click on the “All Wage Grade PD’s.”  Scroll down and you’ll find PD’s for Maintenance Mechanics, Utility Systems, and loads of other positions.  (Note: depending on a Park’s specific needs these PD’s may be modified for an actual job posting.)


Do you have a resource that would be valuable to this Program Area or is your team working on an interesting project? Leave a comment  below and tell us about it so we can feature it on our site.

Managing Water Assessment in Federal Facilities – On Demand Training
femp_logo 620 x 2124 hours Focused on managing the Water Assessment process in Federal facilities, this course assists the Federal Energy and Facility Manager to comply with executive orders and legislative mandates and meet the requirements of Section 432 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. This course provides details on a five-step process for conducting, or ...
EPA Water Training Programs
Water Waste Water Training Water professionals, public officials and interested citizens can take these online courses on understanding and implementing our water protection programs.  To view EPA’s Training Program page click HERE  

There are currently no News & Events category posts

There are currently no Training category posts

Able Seaman (9924)99243
Air Conditioning Equipment Mechanic (5306)530611
Animal Caretaking (5048)504817
Animal Packer (5001)500140
Architect (0808)0808133
Automotive Mechanic (5823)582371
Boiler Plant Operating (5402)54022
Building Manager (1176)11762
Carpentry (4607)4607115
Chief Engineer (9931)99312
Civil Engineer (0810)081096
Construction Analyst (0828)08281
Construction Representative (0809)080911
Cooking (7404)74046
Crane Operating (5725)57257
Custodial Working (3566)356695
Deckhand (5788)57889
Electrical Engineer (0850)08502
Electrician (2805)280582
Electrician (High Voltage) (2810)28109
Electromotive Equipment Mechanic (5876)58762
Electronic Industrial Controls Mechanic (2606)26062
Electronics Mechanic (2604)26047
Electronics Technician (0856)085615
Elevator Mechanic (5313)53133
Engineering Draftsman (0818)08181
Engineering Equipment Operating (5716)5716320
Engineering Technician (0802)080241
Environmental Engineer (0819)081912
Equipment Specialist (1670)16708
Exhibit Specialist (1010)1010104
Exhibit Specialist (Student Trainee) (1099)109928
Facility Management (1640)1640344
Farmer/Farm Worker (5002)50022
First Officer (9905)99051
Gardening (5003)5003125
General Engineer (0801)080146
General Equipment Mechanic (4737)47375
Heating and Boiler Plant Equipment Mechanic (5309)53094
Heavy Mobile Equipment Mechanic (5803)580377
Horticulturist (0437)043715
Industrial Equipment Mechanic (5352)53521
Instrument Mechanic (3359)33592
Laborer – Student Trainee (3599)35991
Laboring (3502)35021024
Landscape Architect (0807)0807177
Lock and Dam Operator (5707)57075
Locksmith (4804)48041
Locomotive Engineer (5737)57371
Machining (3414)34141
Maintenance Mechanic (4749)47492572
Marine Machinery Mechanic (5334)53347
Masonry (3603)3603145
Master (Vessel Operations) (9902)99021
Materials Handler (6907)690718
Mechanical Engineer (0830)083013
Miscellaneous General Maintenance and Operations (Preservation Specialist) (4701)4701165
Miscellaneous Industrial Equipment Maintenance Mechanic (5301)53015
Miscellaneous Industrial Equipment Operating (5401)54014
Miscellaneous Metal Working (3801)38014
Miscellaneous Pipefitting (Pipeline Repairer) (4201)42011
Miscellaneous Transportation/Mobile Equipment Maintenance Mechanic (5801)580115
Mobile Equipment Servicer (5806)58065
Motor Vehicle Operating (5703)5703232
Offset Photographer (4414)44143
Ordinary Seaman (Deckhand) (9928)99281
Painting (4102)410249
Pest Controlling (5026)502617
Petroleum Engineer (0881)08811
Pipefitting (4204)42045
Plumbing (4206)420623
Printing Specialist (1654)16545
Projectionist (3910)39105
Railroad Maintenance Vehicle Operating (5738)57383
Rigging (5210)52103
Safety Engineer (0803)08032
Sand Blaster (5423)54232
Sheet Metal Mechanic (3806)38062
Ship Operations Supervisor (5782)57821
Sign Painter (4104)410417
Sign Painter – Student Trainee (4101)41011
Small Craft Operating (5786)578672
Small Engine Mechanic (8610)86103
Student Trainee (0899)089915
Student Trainee (1699)169925
Student Trainee (5499)54991
Student Trainee (HV Elect Wrkr Helpr) (2801)28013
Student Trainee (Laborer) (3501)35013
Student Trainee (Masonry Worker) (3601)36014
Telecommunications Mechanic/ Worker/Helper (2502)25024
Third Assistant Engineer (9934)99341
Tools and Parts Attending (6904)69043
Tractor Operator (5705)570596
Trails Worker (5201)520159
Tree Faller (5042)504249
Trolley Operator (5701)570129
Utility Systems Operating (5406)540631
Utility Systems Repairing-Operating (4742)4742116
Wastewater Treatment Plant Operating (5408)540814
Water Treatment Plant Operating (5409)540931
Weaver (3101)31013
Welding (3703)37039
Wood Crafter (4605)460527
Wooden Sign Maker (4601)46012

There are currently no Sustainability category posts

There are currently no Professional Organizations category posts

There are currently no Health & Safety category posts

There are currently no Reference Materials category posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>