New Guideline for Direct Responsible Charge (DRC)

New Direct Responsible Charge (DRC) Guidelines

There was general agreement that the Direct Responsible Charge (DRC) requirement used to be a bottleneck for Operators seeking higher levels of certification and for owners in establishing smooth succession planning pathways.  DRC experience in facilities/systems has typically been earned by the Chief Operator or by an Operator substituting in the Chief Operator role.  This has been a roadblock for other operators in the facility/system to acquire DRC experience and advance their certification level.  

In practice, other roles besides Chief Operators have decision-making responsibility within many facilities and systems.  This gives other Operators the opportunity to acquire DRC work experience at the same time as the Chief Operator or the substitute.  The EOCP offers owners an opportunity to identify when more than one Operator is earning DRC hours (see the Program Guide) but this is not well known and very few facilities have taken advantage of this opportunity .

The board has recently approved changes which, when implemented will:

  • Enable more than one Operator at a time to earn DRC work experience, and encourage facilities/systems to make these opportunities available;
  • Enable Level I Operators to begin accumulating DRC work experience (currently restricted to Levels II, III and IV); and
  • Require Operators of water distribution or wastewater collection systems to have DRC work experience to apply for Level III and IV Operator certification.

These changes will better align BC with ABC’s Model Standards and Canadian Best Practices.

Not every facility/system will be able to offer the opportunity for more than one Operator at a time to earn DRC experience, and not every Operator is ready to be put in a position of Direct Responsible Charge.  The board believes however that those who are in charge should receive recognition for that experience.

The DRC Plan

At the core of the revised DRC model is the DRC Plan.  This is a form to be completed and approved by both the Chief Operator and the owner/manager, that sets out:

  1. the current EOCP facility/system number and classification
  2. the normal working hours in a year for that facility
  3. a list of the roles that are identified as being in Direct Responsible Charge
  4. for each role:
    1. a list of the processes within the scope or span of control
    2. a list of the key responsibilities
    3. a calculation of the expected number of DRC hours available in that role annually
  5. how DRC experience will be recognized for on-call or standby assignments

For access to the DRC Plan forms for Class II, III, & IV – Click Here

You can view a Sample DRC Plan for each Utility type, please select from the below options:

This plan would be submitted initially, and revised as required along with significant changes to the facility/system or the organization structure.  It would be approved by both the Chief Operator and the owner/manager.  It will not be mandatory for each facility/system to submit a DRC plan, but without a plan in place only the Chief Operator or an Operator acting in their role will be recognized for DRC experience.

Roles Eligible for DRC

Given the variety of organization structures in place at facilities and systems in BC, the board has chosen to focus on responsibilities rather than job titles.  To be eligible for DRC, the role must:

  • be in active control of the facility/system or a significant segment thereof;
  • have responsibility for technical direction of the facility/system or a significant segment thereof;
  • include substantial on-site duties (sufficient to have the necessary familiarity with the operation of the facility/system);
  • have the mandate to make meaningful operating decisions without consultation, and be accountable for those decisions.  

The responsibilities of the role must include:

  • taking all steps reasonably necessary to ensure that the processes with their responsibility are operating safely and effectively;
  • reviewing and establishing operational parameters for the facility;
  • monitoring and evaluating the processes within their responsibility in a manner that permits them to be adjusted when necessary and maintaining appropriate records of these activities;
  • as necessary, adjusting the processes within their responsibility and maintaining appropriate records of adjustments made.

‘Meaningful operating decisions’ means decisions that could affect water or effluent quality, safety of personnel, spills, leaks, the integrity of network or directly impacting public health and/or the environment.

This does not mean that Operators must work entirely independently; an Operator who has the mandate to make meaningful operating decisions without consultation may still choose to consult on any decision when appropriate in their judgement.

An Operator is not required to perform every task themselves; an Operator in DRC may carry out these responsibilities personally, or may provide on-site supervision of Operators who do

Operators Eligible for DRC

Only certified Operators can earn DRC; they must hold a Level I, II, III or IV certificate, or a Multi-utility Level I or II certificate, in the same type of facility/system in which they are in DRC.  In addition, the facility/system must be classified as Level II, III or IV; DRC is not available in a Level I facility/system.

Expanded Scope for DRC

Included with these changes is a revision to the program guide that will require that Operators of water distribution or wastewater collection systems have DRC work experience to apply for Level III and IV Operator certification.  This change will better align BC with ABC’s Model Standards and Canadian Best Practices and will make our practices more consistent with those of Alberta and Ontario.

Also included is a change that will allow certified Level 1 Operators to begin to earn DRC experience when they function in a role that has been designated as eligible for DRC (but only in a level II, III or IV facility/system).


The EOCP began accepting DRC plans on January 1, 2016, and the requirement for DRC experience for Level III and IV Distribution and Collection certification came into effect on April 15, 2016.

These changes should remove a significant barrier to achieving higher levels of certification.

Frequently-asked Questions

Is every facility/system required to submit a DRC plan?

Not at this time.  A DRC plan is required only if more than one role at a facility/system is designated as a DRC role.  Without a DRC plan,

  1. only a single in-control role (normally the Chief Operator) and their backups can earn DRC experience, and
  2. on-call Operators will only receive DRC experience for the actual hours worked as and when called in

How many Operators in a facility/system can be earning DRC at one time/on one shift? Are there be maximums or minimums set by EOCP?  

There are no prescribed maximums or minimums, but each role earning DRC must satisfy the requirements in the definition above, and must be documented in a DRC plan which is reasonable and meets the EOCP criteria for a DRC plan.

How is DRC experience earned by an Operator who is on standby or on call?  

This is not prescribed by the EOCP, but is part of the DRC plan submitted by the facility.  It should reflect the actual in-control experience gained while on call or standby, and is not necessarily tied to or aligned with payroll or HR policies.

Who signs off on the DRC plan?

The DRC plan must be signed off by

  1. someone who is familiar with the facility/system(normally the Chief Operator), and
  2. someone with managerial responsibility for the facility/system (normally the owner or manager)

Who approves the DRC plan submitted by a facility?

The DRC plan is reviewed by the EOCP for compliance (i.e. that it is clear, complete and reasonable) but approval is given by the Chief Operator and facility/system management.  The EOCP does not prescribe staffing decisions at facilities.

How should DRC hours be reported against a plan?

When a DRC plan has been submitted to the EOCP, the actual DRC experience earned should be reported annually, for all Operators.

Can the DRC plan be applied retroactively?

Yes.  If a role has been identified as eligible for DRC experience, then someone who has been working in that role can claim DRC experience for as long as they have been performing that role.