State to revise rules for operators of water supply systems, wastewater-treatment plantsThe anticipated changes would allow experienced operators to continue working while being trained to operate upgraded facilities.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) jointly published a notice in the January 23, 2012, State Register that announces the agencies’ intentions to revise the state rules for certifying operators of water supply systems and wastewater-treatment facilities.
The anticipated changes would allow experienced operators to continue working while being trained to operate upgraded facilities.
MPCA Assistant Commissioner Rebecca Flood said, “These operators are the front line in protecting Minnesota's environment, but there's a looming shortage of qualified operators due to an aging workforce eligible for retirement. The change will allow existing operators to keep working while they gain the experience and training required for a regular certificate. Our aim is really to preserve jobs and the environment.”
The revisions respond to needs that the Advisory Council on Water Supply Systems and Wastewater Treatment Facilities identified. The proposed rules would allow the respective agencies to grant conditional certificates to operators when a system or facility has been reclassified to a higher class due to its having been altered or when a when a system or facility has been reclassified with no alterations.
Operators could qualify for the conditional certificates if they meet criteria specified in the proposed rule, which include:
a) The operator is a current operator with direct responsibility;
b) the operator has worked as the operator with direct responsibility at the same system or facility at least 12 consecutive months before applying for the conditional certificate; and
c) the applicant passes all exams required for the higher class in sequence (D, C, B and A) and before startup of any system or facility upgrades that are related to the change in class.
In addition, the conditional certificate would be facility specific, thus, only valid at the system or facility for which the conditional certificate is issued, but must be renewed as if it were not conditional. This would allow the system or facility operator time to gain the experience required for a regular certificate. Once the operator has met those experience requirements, the agency would issue the operator a regular certificate.
Operators could also qualify for the conditional certificate without examination if the system or facility were reclassified with no alterations. In addition, the proposed language addresses revocation of the conditional certificate in the context of existing statutes.
The MDH and MPCA will consider formal comments on the proposed revisions that the public submits following the directions specified in the notice. The agencies encourage interested and affected parties to participate in the rulemaking process. Copies of the notice, proposed rule revisions, and the Statement of Need and Reasonableness are available on the MPCA’s Public Notices webpage.
Persons who have questions about the proposed changes to the state rules can contact Dianne Navratil at 651-757-2599 for MPCA-regulated wastewater-treatment facilities and Mark Sloan at 651-201-4652 for MDH-regulated water supply systems.