Small Systems Criteria

What is a Small System?

Typically, small water distribution, water treatment, wastewater collection, or wastewater treatment facilities have Operators who are not required for full-time daily attention. The systems are relatively simple, serve only a small population, and/or are operating for only a portion of any given year.

Most operators of such facilities are not able to meet the minimum requirements for Level 1 to 4 certification; in particular, achieving the operating experience (1,800 hours) required to write a Level I exam in a reasonable period of time. Small System Classification and Operator Certification is intended to insure the competency of operators who work on systems that may not normally fit within the regular certification process.

The criteria for Small System Classification and Operator Certification have been developed in conjunction with other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States, and follow the guidelines as identified with the Association of Boards of Certification.

Why Certification for Small Water System (SWS) Operators, Bulk Water Delivery (BWD) Operators, and Small Wastewater System (SWWS) Operators?

The Ministry of Health in British Columbia and the Yukon Department of Health and Social Services recognized that the provision of safe water to all consumers is a public health priority. One of the means to achieve this is by raising the level of knowledge of operators and by testing their level of competency to operate their system at the level it is classified. Certified operators who have an understanding of the health and safety aspects of their operation will reduce the risk of a water borne disease outbreak and will increase consumer confidence on the water they drink.

Similarly, small wastewater systems must be operated by competent individuals if the environment and public health are to be protected.

Legislation – Small Water Systems

The BC Drinking Water Protection Regulation, Section 12(3)(a) from 2003 established that small water systems would be required to have the operator certified according to the EOCP standards by January 1, 2005. However, this was amended in December 2004 with the compliance date extended to January 1, 2006. The BC Ministry of Health has indicated there may be further changes to the regulatory framework for small water systems but that operator certification requirements will likely remain for all but the smallest of systems.

The Yukon Department of Health and Social Services has prepared draft legislation that is expected to be implemented in the very near future that will require all persons working as a water system operator, including Bulk Water Delivery Operators, be certified by the EOCP.

Criteria for SWS, BWD and SWWS

  1. The facility/system serves a maximum population of 500 people;
  2. The operator has at least six (6) calendar months of hands-on experience operating the facility/system or one equivalent to it or higher;
  3. The operator has a minimum of 50 hours of hands-on experience operating the facility/system or one equivalent to it or higher; and
  4. The operator must have completed appropriate training for which a minimum of 1.2 continuing education units (CEU’s) have been awarded by the EOCP.


An operator holding a small system certificate is recognized as a certified operator at all similarly classified facilities/systems. The certificate is not recognized at facilities/systems that are not considered small systems. A small system certificate does not preclude an operator from writing exams to obtain a full Level I, II, or III certificate once the required experience and/or education is acquired. An operator holding a full certificate is recognized as a certified operator in any facility/system, including small systems, up to the level of his/her certificate.


There are four types of Small System Facility Classification certificates:

  • Small Water System
  • Small Wastewater System – Lagoons
  • Small Wastewater Systems – Mechanical
  • Bulk Water Delivery

Small System Operator certificates are issued corresponding to the three types of facility classifications above and for Bulk Water Delivery System Operators. For the immediate future there will not be a facility classification procedure for Bulk Water Delivery Systems.


The EOCP does not offer training courses for Small Systems or other categories.  Please visit our Training Registry for a list of providers and courses.

Regardless of what course an operator takes, a Small Water, Bulk Water Delivery, or Small Wastewater training course or any other course, he or she must apply separately to the EOCP for application to write a certification exam and/or to classify a facility. Our website has the applicable forms and information.

> For information on regulations/guidelines please click here
Although EOCP tries to assure the accuracy of all information here, you should confirm all information.