April 28, 2015: The EOCP Board of Directors, with the approval of the Ministry of Health, have recently made a change to the definition of a water treatment facility; the revised definition is as follows:
A facility that includes treatment using physical, chemical or biological processes, including any method of primary disinfection, to produce potable water is to be classified as a water treatment facility.
Primary disinfection can include chlorination, ultraviolet and ozonation. The rationale for this change is that a facility performing a process that is intended to accomplish primary disinfection must be operated by a person certified as a water treatment operator. However, a facility performing secondary disinfection (generally with chlorine) on water that is already potable can be operated safely by a person certified as a distribution operator.
With this change, some Water Distribution facilities in the province will be separated into a Water Treatment and a Water Distribution facility. If your facility is classified as a Water Treatment facility, Section 12 of the BC Drinking Water Protection Regulation requires that a person must hold the appropriate level of Water Treatment certification in order to be qualified to operate the facility.
We are sending a request to confirm classification to a number of distribution facilities potentially affected by this change. These facilities have been directed to either i. confirm that they are distributing already-potable water or ii. apply for classification as a water treatment facility.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why is this work being done?
EOCP is aligning its classification system with Association of Boards of Certification water treatment and water distribution classifications, and ensuring all drinking water systems are classified appropriately, as water treatment and water distribution, and accordingly have appropriately qualified operators.
- What are other provinces doing?
The definition of a water treatment facility varies among provinces and is often unclear; BC has chosen to take a leadership position on this issue
- How much will reclassification cost
There is no charge to process applications received within 45 days of our letter of direction to confirm classification. Applications received after that date are subject to the normal fee of $50 to process an Application for Classification of Water Treatment Facility, plus a late charge of $10.
- Can my facility be classified as Water Treatment if I am just adding chlorine?
Yes. If the chlorination process is intended to kill or inactivate pathogens in order to render the water potable, the facility could be classified as Water Treatment. If chlorine is being added to potable water in order to protect the distribution system, and there are no other treatment processes, the facility could be classified as Water Distribution.
- I know that my facility is not doing water treatment; what should I do?
If you receive a letter directing you to confirm classification, complete the form attached to the letter, providing details of the source(s) of the potable water that you distribute.
- How will this affect my operators?
Your senior operator is required to hold certification(s) corresponding to the classification(s) of the facility. This may require that they apply to the EOCP for certification as a Water Treatment operator at the level of classification of the facility. In addition, all of your operators will have the opportunity to accumulate experience toward a Water Treatment certification.
- How would this change affect my existing certifications?
Your existing certifications are not affected by this change.
- What happens to my WD hours as a result of this process?
Your existing Water Distribution hours will be unaffected. However, If the treatment system is separated and classified as a Water Treatment facility, you will have the opportunity to accumulate operator experience toward a Water Treatment certification as well.
- When do I start earning WT hours?
Operators at a classified facility can receive credit for experience for as long as they have been performing the relevant duties. Depending on your personal situation, it could be retroactive to the beginning of your current employment. Experience not used toward writing another exam may be included on an application for a Water Treatment certification, and your supervisor will determine whether you are ready to write the exam based on your actual duties as an operator.
- How long do I have to obtain my WT certification?
In order to streamline this transition, the EOCP will waive the application fee for any operator at a separated and newly-classified Water Treatment facility who wishes to write the Water Treatment Level I exam, provided that:
- they have at least two years experience in the facility,
- management indicates that they have the knowledge and experience to write the exam, and
- they apply to write the exam within three (3) months of the separation and classification of the Water Treatment facility.
- How will this affect the staffing at my facility?
There is no immediate impact on staffing; you should continue to staff and operate the facility to achieve safe and effective results. However, each facility/system is required to have an appropriately qualified operator, i.e., an operator whose certification matches the classification of the system. If this is not the case, we recommend that you encourage your operator(s) to apply for and obtain the necessary certification as soon as they satisfy the requirements.
- How long do I have to comply with new operator requirements?
An operator is required to have 12 months of appropriate experience to be certified as a Level I Water Treatment operator. Accordingly, a Level I Water Treatment facility should have an appropriately qualified operator in place within 14 months from the date of classification. Water Treatment facilities classified at level II or higher will be dealt with on an individual basis.
- What happens if I do nothing?
The classification of Water Treatment and Water Distribution facilities is currently done to ensure that they are run by operators with the appropriate qualifications. All facilities MUST comply with the BC Drinking Water Protection Act and Drinking Water Protection Regulation, and a Certified Operator can help you do to this.