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Most People Don’t Know These 10 Things about Being a Water Utility Operator

Posted By Allison Kaminsky, Thursday, February 23, 2017

You may not realize it, but water utility operators play an important role in our society. Every day, certified water operators are ensuring we have safe drinking water by maintaining equipment and processes to monitor and affect water as it moves through the treatment and distribution cycles. The following are 10 things most people don’t know about the occupation that helps ensure our public health, making such a large impact on our lives on a daily basis.

  1. Drinking water operator certification is managed on a state-by-state basis. In Texas, licensing requirements are managed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Operators can be licensed in a variety of areas, including water, wastewater, distribution and reuse.
  2. Texas has required all public water systems to have a licensed operator since the 1950s, though the EPA did not require licensed operators for public water systems until 2001.
  3. Public water system operators must have at least a high school diploma or a GED, as well have required training courses and experience to test for their license. They then must renew their license every three years, requiring continuing education hours to do so.
  4. There are several levels of licensure for being a water operator. As an operator advances from a “D” to an “A” license level, their expertise expands, including a strong working knowledge of math and chemistry necessary to ensure proper chemical dosages.
  5. One major task of water operators is to disinfect our drinking water and maintain a disinfection residual, usually a form of chlorine, in the distribution system. A residual is a low level of the disinfectant that remains in the water after its initial application to protect against waterborne contaminants.
  6. To ensure the water is properly safeguarded, the water operator conducts daily tests to measure the disinfectant residual in the water distribution system.
  7. Water operators must flush all dead-end mains, and also must flush water distribution lines when they receive customer complaints. Once flushing starts, the operator cannot stop flushing until the water is clear and the desired chlorine residual is reached.
  8. Fire hydrants and flush valves are designed to catch “trash” in the water and provide a place to remove this “trash” from the distribution system. This is why fire hydrants and flush valves usually flow “dirty” water when they are first opened.
  9. On a monthly basis, water operators are required to take bacteriological samples from the water distribution system and have these samples tested by a state-approved laboratory.
  10. Operators are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to make repairs and respond to emergencies on the water system.

The Texas Rural Water Association works hard every day to protect rural Texas’ drinking water. We have resources and expert staff that help rural and small systems with a wide-range of issues, including compliance and legal challenges. TRWA provides classroom and online training courses to help Texas water and wastewater operators get the training they need. We are here to help ensure rural Texans have access to efficient service and clean, quality drinking water. We represent over 750 small and rural utilities that serve communities that enjoy #qualityontap and #drinklocalwater.

Tags:  contamination  drink local water  education  quality on tap  rural water  Texas water  water operators  water quality 

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Clay Hodges says...
Posted Thursday, March 23, 2017
Good read Allison. I think there are more like 100 things Operators do. Printed this off and taped it to the drive through window.
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