Marana Water News: Becoming A Water Operator

The Arizona Administrative Code Title 18 chapters 5 and 9 lays the foundation for the certification program for water operators. Managed by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, this certification program sets the guidelines to ensure that only water professionals are operating our water systems. The training and certification exams safeguard the public health in the Marana community.

To gain a certification, operators must pass an exam in the area in which they specialize. There are four categories of certification; water distribution, water treatment, collections, and wastewater. Within each of these categories are four grades of increasing complexity from Grade 1 to Grade 4. Operators sit for the exam at the grade and category after registering and studying. The exam is computer based, and the test-taker has three hours to answer 100 questions. The infogram to the right gives an overview of the steps to take to register and pass these exams.

Once a passing score has been achieved, professional education hours are required to maintain the certification. Distribution safety, sampling techniques, project management, and many other training programs meet these continuing education hours, and the Marana Water staff find new ways to learn and expand our knowledge about water systems through these continuing education programs, many of which are offered at no charge.

Certified operators are the backbone of the Marana Water department. The specialized knowledge gained through this certificate program, enable our staff to properly meet all requirements for water reliability, safe drinking water, and maintaining equipment and processes to operate our water systems. Almost 90% of Marana Water staff have at least one operator certificate, and eleven members of our staff have multiple across all the categories. The chart to the left shows the number of each grade in each category. Overall, Marana Water staff has 43 distinct certifications and continuing to gain more each year. We work very hard to provide the best possible expertise and service for our customers.

Our staff are dedicated to all the skills necessary to be a successful water operator: mathematics, mechanics, treatment techniques, reporting, and safety. Keeping our water systems running safely and efficiently is part of the mission we strive to meet each day.