Utah Administrative Code

The Utah Administrative Code is the body of all effective administrative rules as compiled and organized by the Division of Administrative Rules (see Subsection 63G-3-102(5); see also Sections 63G-3-701 and 702).

NOTE: For a list of rules that have been made effective since October 1, 2019, please see the codification segue page.

NOTE TO RULEFILING AGENCIES: Use the RTF version for submitting rule changes.

R317. Environmental Quality, Water Quality.

Rule R317-10. Certification of Wastewater Works Operators.

As in effect on October 1, 2019

Table of Contents

R317-10-1. Objectives.

The certification program is established in order to assist in protecting the quality of waters in the state of Utah by helping ensure that personnel in charge of wastewater works are trained, experienced, reliable and efficient; protect the public health and the environment; provide for the health and safety of wastewater works operators; and establish standards and methods whereby wastewater works operating personnel can demonstrate competency.

R317-10-2. Scope.

A. These certification rules apply to all wastewater treatment works and sewerage systems, with the exception of Onsite Wastewater Systems and Large Underground Wastewater Disposal Systems as defined in Section R317-1-1. This includes both wastewater collection systems and wastewater treatment systems except underground wastewater disposal systems.

B. Wastewater works operated by political subdivisions must employ certified operators as required in this rule.

C. Operators of wastewater systems not requiring certified operators, such as industrial wastewater treatment systems, may be certified according to provisions of these rules for testing and certification.

R317-10-3. Authority.

The certification program for wastewater works operators is authorized by Section 19-5-104.

R317-10-4. Definitions.

"Board" means the Water Quality Board.

"Category" means type of certification, such as collection or wastewater treatment.

"Certificate" means a certificate issued by the director, with recommendation from the council, stating that the recipient has met the minimum requirements for the specified operator category and grade described in this rule.

"Certified Operator" means a person with the appropriate education and experience, as specified in this rule, who has successfully completed the certification exam or otherwise meets the requirements of this rule.

"Chief Operator" means the supervisor in direct responsible charge of all shift operators for a collection or treatment system.

"Collection System" means the system designed to collect and transport sewage from the beginning points that the collection entity regards as their responsibility to maintain and operate, to the points where the treatment facility assumes responsibility for operation and maintenance.

"Council" means the Utah Wastewater Operator Certification Council, as established in Section R317-10-8.

"Continuing Education Unit (CEU)" means ten contact hours of participation in and successful completion of an organized and approved continuing education experience. College credit in approved courses may be substituted for CEUs on an equivalency basis as defined in this rule.

"Direct Responsible Charge (DRC)" means active on-site charge and performance of operation duties. The person in direct responsible charge is generally a supervisor over wastewater treatment or collection who independently makes decisions affecting all treatment or system processes during normal operation which may affect the quality, safety, and adequacy of treatment of wastewater discharged from the plant. In cases where only one operator is employed, this operator shall be considered to be in direct responsible charge.

"Director" means the Director of the Division of Water Quality.

"Grade Level" means any one of the possible steps within a certification category. There are four levels each for collection and treatment system operators, Grade I being the lowest and Grade IV the highest level. There is one level for lagoon operators.

"Grandfather Certificate" means a certificate issued to an operator, without taking an examination, by virtue of the operator meeting experience and other requirements in Subsection R317-10-11.H of this rule.

"Operating Experience" means experience gained in operating a wastewater treatment plant or collection system which enables the operator to make correct supervisory, operational, safety, and maintenance decisions affecting personnel, water quality, public health, regulatory compliance, and wastewater works operation, efficiency, and longevity.

"Operator" means any person who is directly involved in or may be responsible for operation of any wastewater works or facilities treating wastewater.

"Population Equivalent (P.E.)" means the population which would contribute an equivalent waste load based on the calculation of total pounds of BOD contributed divided by 0.2. This calculation may be used where a significant amount of industrial waste is discharged to a wastewater system.

"Restricted Certificate" means a certificate issued upon passing the certification examination when other requirements have not been met.

"Small Lagoon System" means a Class I wastewater lagoon treatment system with attached collection system serving fewer than 3,500 population equivalent.

"Wastewater Works" means facilities for collecting, pumping, treating, or disposing of sanitary wastewater.

R317-10-5. Wastewater Works Owner Responsibilities.

A. The chief operator and supervisors who make process decisions for the system and are designated to be in direct responsible charge must be certified at no less than the level of the facility classification.

1. All other operators in direct responsible charge must be certified at no less than one grade lower than the facility classification, or at the lowest required facility classification except as provided in Subsection R317-10-5.

2. All facilities must have an operator certified at the facility level on duty or on call.

3. If a facility or system undergoes a re-rating, all operators considered to be in DRC must be certified at the appropriate level within one year after the date of the notification by the division of the new rating.

B. The facility owner must notify the director within 10 working days after the chief operator considered in DRC has terminated employment, or is otherwise unable to perform those duties. The wastewater works must have an appropriately certified operator, or an operator with a restricted certificate at the appropriate level, designated as DRC within one year from the date the vacancy occurred.

C. For newly constructed wastewater works, an appropriately certified operator, or an operator with a restricted certificate at the appropriate level, must be employed within one year after the system is deemed operable.

D. Those required to be certified may operate a system with a restricted certificate of the required grade for up to one year for a Class I or Class II facility, or up to two years for a Class III or Class IV facility, but may not continue to operate a system if they are unable to obtain an unrestricted certificate at the end of the stipulated period.

E. Contracts

1. General. In lieu of employing a DRC operator as part of its workforce, a facility owner may enter into a contract for DRC services with an operator certified at the appropriate level, or with another public or private entity with operators certified at the appropriate level.

2. Any such contract must be reviewed and approved by the director.

3. If there is a contract, it must include the names of the certified individuals who will be in direct responsible charge of the operation of the facility. At a minimum the contract must contain the following elements:

a. a clear description of the overall duties and responsibilities of the facility owner, and the responsibilities of any contracted DRC operator related to the supervision of the facility's operation, including the frequency of visits and the duties to be performed;

b. identification of the contract period and effective date of the contract;

c. consideration;

d. termination clause; and

e. execution by authorized signatories.

R317-10-6. Facility Classification System.

Treatment plants and collection systems shall be classified in accordance with Table 1.

                                                    TABLE 1
                                             FACILITY CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM

FACILITY                             CLASS
CATEGORY              I          II           III          IV

Collection  Pop.     3,500      3,501 to    15,001 to    50,001 and
(1)         Served   and less   15,000      50,000       greater

Treatment   Range    30 and     31 to 55    56 to 75      76 and
Plant (2)   of Fac.  less                                 greater

Small       Pop.      3,500
Lagoon      Equiv.     and
Systems(3)  Served     less

     (1)  Simple "in-line" treatment, such as booster pumping,
preventive chlorination, or odor control, is considered an
integral part of a collection system.
     (2)  Treatment plants shall be assigned "facility points"
in accordance with Table 2 "Wastewater Treatment Plant
Classification System".
     (3)  A combined certificate shall be issued for treatment
works and collection system operation.
                                              TABLE 2

     Each Unit process should have points assigned only once.

   Item                                                   Points
SIZE (2 PT Minimum - 20 PT Maximum)

   Max. Population equivalent (PE) served,                 1 - 10
    peak day(1)
   Design flow average day or peak month average,          1 - 10
    whichever is larger(2)

   Variations do not exceed those normally or                0
    typically expected
   Recurring deviations or excessive variations of           2
    100 - 200% in strength and/or flow
   Recurring deviations or excessive variations of           4
    more than 200% in strength and/or flow
   Raw wastes subject to toxic waste discharges              6
   Acceptance of septage or truck-hauled waste               2

   Plant pumping of main flow                                3
   Screening, comminution                                    3
   Grit removal                                              3
   Equalization                                              1

   Clarifiers                                                5
   Imhoff tanks or similar                                   5

   Fixed film reactor                                       10
   Activated sludge                                         15
   Stabilization ponds w/o aeration                          5
   Stabilization ponds w/aeration                            8

   Polishing ponds for advanced waste treatment              2
   Chemical/physical advanced waste treatment w/o           15
   Chemical/physical advanced waste treatment               10
    following secondary
   Biological or chemical/biological advanced waste         12
   Nitrification by designed extended aeration only          2
   Ion exchange for advanced waste treatment                10
   Reverse osmosis, electrodialysis and other               15
    membrane filtration techniques
   Advanced waste treatment chemical recovery, carbon        4
   Media Filtration                                          5

   Chemical additions (2 pts./each for max. of 6 pts.)   2 - 6
   Dissolved air flotation (for other than sludge
   thickening)                                               8
   Intermittent sand filter                                  2
   Recirculating intermittent sand filter                    3
   Microscreens                                              5
   Generation of oxygen                                      5

   Solids conditioning                                       2
   Solids thickening (based on technology)               2 - 5
   Mechanical dewatering                                     8
   Anaerobic digestion of solids                            10
   Utilization of digester gas for heating                   5
    or cogeneration
   Aerobic digestion of solids                               6
   Evaporative sludge drying                                 2

   Solids reduction (including incineration, wet            12
   On-site landfill for solids                               2
   Solids composting                                        10
   Land application of biosolids by contractor               2
   Land application of biosolids under direction            10
    of facility operator in DRC

DISINFECTION (10 pt. max.)
   Chlorination or ultraviolet irradiation                   5
   Ozonation                                                10

   Mechanical Post aeration                                  2
   Direct recycle and reuse                                  6
   Land treatment and disposal (surface or subsurface)       4

   Use of SCADA or similar instrumentation systems
    to provide data with no process operation                0
   Use of SCADA or similar instrumentation systems
    to provide data with limited process operation           2
   Use of SCADA or similar instrumentation systems
    to provide data with moderate process operation          4
   Use of SCADA or similar instrumentation systems
    to provide data with extensive/total process operation   6

LABORATORY CONTROL (15 pt. max)(4)
   Bacteriological/biological (5 pt. max):
    Lab work done outside the plant                          0
    Membrane filter procedures                               3
    Use of fermentation tubes or any dilution                5
     method (or E. coli determination)
   Chemical/physical (10 pt. max):
    Lab work done outside the plant                          0
    Push-button, visual methods for simple tests             3
     (i.e. pH, settleable solids)
    Additional procedures (ie, DO, COD, BOD, gas             5
     analysis, titrations, solids volatile
    More advanced determinations (ie, specific               7
     constituents; nutrients, total oils,
    Highly sophisticated instrumentation (i.e.,             10
     atomic absorption, gas chromatography)

    (1)  1 point per 10,000 P.E. or part; maximum of 10 points
    (2)  1 point per MGD or part
    (3)  Key concept is frequency and/or intensity of deviation
or excessive variation from normal or typical fluctuations; such
deviation may be in terms of strength, toxicity, shock loads,
inflow and infiltration, with point values ranging from 0 - 6.
    (4)  Key concept is to credit laboratory analyses done
on-site by plant personnel under the direction of the operator
in direct responsible charge with point values ranging
from 0 - 15.

R317-10-7. Qualifications for Operator Grades.

A. General

1. "Qualification Points" means the accumulated points earned through education and experience required to obtain a certification without restriction. Points allocated for relevant education and experience must meet the minimum requirements for each grade. All substitutions are year for year equivalents. A college "year" is considered 45 quarter hours or 30 semester hours of credit.

2. College-level education must be in a job-related field to be credited. However, partial credit may be given for non-job related education at the discretion of the director with the recommendation of the council.

3. Experience may be substituted for a high school education or a graduate equivalence degree in Grades I and II only.

4. Education may be substituted for experience, as specified for each grade.

B. Grade I - minimum 13 points required.

1. High school diploma or equivalency (12 points), or highest grade completed (one point per grade, up to 12 points).

2. One year of operating experience (one point per year).

3. Experience may be substituted for all or any part of the education requirements, on a one-to-one basis.

4. Education may not be substituted for experience.

C. Grade II - minimum 14 points required.

1. High school diploma or equivalency (12 points), or highest grade completed (one point per grade, up to 12 points).

2. Two years of operating experience (one point per year).

3. Up to one year of additional education may be substituted for an equivalent amount of operating experience.

4. Experience may be substituted for all or any part of the education requirement, on a one-to-one basis.

D. Grade III - minimum 16 points required.

1. High school diploma or equivalency (12 points), or highest grade completed (one point per grade, up to 12 points).

2. Four years of operating experience (one point per year).

3. Up to two years of additional education may be substituted for an equivalent amount of operating experience.

4. Relevant and specialized operator training may be substituted for education requirement, where 25 CEUs is equivalent to one year of education.

E. Grade IV - minimum 18 points required.

1. High school diploma or equivalency (12 points), or highest grade completed (one point per grade, up to 12 points).

2. Six years of operating experience (one point per year).

3. Up to two years of additional education may be substituted for an equivalent amount of operating experience.

4. Relevant and specialized operator training may be substituted for education requirement, where 25 CEUs is equivalent to one year of education.

F. An applicant is also required to meet the requirements of Section 63G-12-104 regarding citizenship or alien identification certification.

R317-10-8. Utah Wastewater Operator Certification Council.

A. Membership.

1. Members of the council shall be appointed by the board.

a. Recommendations for appointments may be made by interested individuals or organizations, including the Department of Environmental Quality, Utah League of Cities and Towns, Water Environment Association of Utah, the Rural Water Association of Utah, and the Civil and Environmental Engineering Departments of universities in Utah.

b. The council shall serve at the discretion of the board to oversee the certification program in an advisory capacity to the director as provided in this rule.

2. The council shall consist of seven voting members and should include representation from interest groups as follows:

a. four members who are operators holding valid certificates, with at least two members being wastewater collection system operators and two members being wastewater treatment system operators;

b. one member with at least three years of management experience in either wastewater treatment, collection, or both, who represents municipal wastewater management;

c. two members who are at large and may represent:

(1) an educational institution in Utah;

(2) those who are currently certified as wastewater operators in the private sector; or

(3) vocational training.

3. At least two non-voting division staff should be in attendance at any council meeting.

4. Voting council members shall serve as follows:

a. terms of office shall be for three years with two members retiring each year, except for the third year when three shall retire;

b. any member who does not attend at least 50 percent of the meetings during a year of service may be replaced at the discretion of the board;

c. appointments to succeed a council member who is unable to serve his full term shall be for the remainder of the unexpired term; and

d. council members may be reappointed, but they do not automatically succeed themselves.

5. A majority of voting members shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of transacting council business.

6. Each year the Council shall elect from its membership a Chair and Vice Chair.

B. Duties of the council shall include:

1. evaluating examinations to ensure compatibility with operator responsibilities, accuracy of content, and composition of individual exam databank items;

2. evaluating certification applications, as requested by the director, and making recommendations for approval or disapproval;

3. assisting in administering examinations at various locations;

4. providing a forum for ongoing evaluation of the certification program and recommending changes to the director;

5. providing advice and recommendations for CEU approval; and

6. preparing an annual report of certification program activities for distribution to the board and other interested parties.

R317-10-9. Application for Examination.

A. Prior to taking an examination, an applicant must file an application of intention with the director using an approved form, accompanied by:

1. evidence of qualifications for certification in accordance with the provisions of Section R317-10-11;

2. the appropriate fee; and

3. documentation that requirements for certification of citizenship or alien residency are met.

B. Approved forms are available on the internet at www.waterquality.utah.gov.

R317-10-10. Examination.

A. The time and place of examinations to qualify for a certificate shall be determined by the director upon recommendation of the council.

B. All examinations shall be scored and the applicant notified of the results.

C. Examination fees shall be charged according to the approved division fee schedule to cover the costs of testing.

D. All exams shall be administered in a manner that will ensure the integrity of the certification program.

E. Question Comment Forms completed during the testing session should be reviewed by the council and submitted to the test provider.

F. The council shall not review examination questions for the purpose of changing individual examination scores.

1. However, recommendations may be made to improve individual questions in the databank for future examinations.

2. If an error is found in the grading of the exam, credit may be given.

R317-10-11. Certificates.

A. Certificates are issued by the director and shall indicate one of the following classifications:

1. Wastewater Treatment Operator - Grades I through IV.

2. Restricted Wastewater Treatment Operator - Grades I through IV.

3. Wastewater Collection Operator - Grades I through IV.

4. Restricted Wastewater Collection Operator - Grades I through IV.

5. Small Lagoon System Operator - Grade I, Wastewater Treatment and Collection System Combined.

6. Restricted Small Lagoon System Operator - Grade I, Wastewater Treatment and Collection System Combined.

B. General.

1. An applicant shall have the opportunity to take any grade of examination.

2. Replacement certificates may be obtained by submitting a written request with payment of a duplicate certificate fee.

c. Restricted and Unrestricted Certificates.

1. A restricted certificate shall be issued if the applicant passes the exam but review of the application form indicates that the applicant lacks the experience or education required for that particular classification.

2. An unrestricted certificate shall be issued if the applicant passes the exam and the experience and education requirements appropriate to the particular grade are met.

3. Restricted certificates shall become unrestricted when an application is submitted to the division showing that the appropriate experience and education requirements are met and a change in status fee is paid.

4. A restricted certificate does not qualify a person as a certified operator for the classification that the restricted certificate is issued, until the limiting conditions are met, except as provided in Section R317-10-5.

5. Upon application, a restricted certificate may be renewed subject to the conditions in Subsection R317-10-11.D.

D. Certificate Expiration and Renewal.

1. Each certificate shall continue in effect for a period of up to three years, unless revoked prior to that time.

2. The certificate must be renewed each three years by payment of a renewal fee and submittal of evidence of required CEUs.

3. The certificate expires on December 31 of the last year of the certificate.

4. Operators considered in DRC must renew by the expiration date in order for the wastewater works to remain in compliance with this rule.

5. Request for renewal shall be made on forms approved by the division.

6. It shall be the responsibility of the operator to make application for certificate renewal.

E. Reinstatement of Expired Certificate.

1. An expired certificate may be reinstated within one year after expiration by payment of a reinstatement fee with the renewal application when other renewal requirements are also met.

2. After one year, an expired certificate cannot be reinstated, and the operator must retest to become certified.

3. The required CEUs for renewal must be accrued before expiration of the certificate.

4. When unusual circumstances exist, an operator may petition the council to request additional time to meet the requirements.

5. Each petition for exception will be considered on its own merits and recommendation made to the director.

F. CEUs must be earned during the 3 year period prior to the expiration date of the certificate.

G. The director may, after appropriate review by the council, waive examination of applicants holding a valid certificate or license issued in compliance with other certification plans having equivalent standards, and issue a comparable Utah certificate upon payment of a reciprocity fee.

1. If the applicant is working in another state at the time of application, or has relocated to Utah but has not yet obtained employment in the corresponding wastewater field in Utah, a letter of intent to issue a certificate by reciprocity may be provided.

2. When the applicant provides proof of employment in that wastewater field in Utah, and meets all other requirements, a certificate may be issued.

H. In the past, certain individuals received a grandfather certificate.

1. A grandfather certificate was originally issued under authority of Subsection 19-5-104(2)(b)(v). The certificate shall be valid only for the wastewater works at which the operator is employed as that facility existed on March 16, 1991. The certificate may not be transferred to another facility or person. If the facility undergoes an addition of a new process, even if the facility classification does not change, or the collection system has a change in rating, the respective operator must obtain a restricted or unrestricted certificate within one year as specified in this rule.

Grandfather certificates were issued for a period of up to three years and must be renewed prior to the expiration date to remain in effect.

2. Renewal shall include:

a. the payment of a renewal fee;

b. submittal of an application form;

c. evidence of required CEUs; and

d. the applicant must meet the requirements of Section 63G-12-104 regarding citizenship or alien identification certification.

3. The renewal fee shall be the same as that charged for renewal of other wastewater operator certificates.

4. If the grandfather certificate is not renewed prior to the expiration date, the wastewater works may be considered to be out of compliance with this rule. The operator would then be required to pass the appropriate certification examination to become a certified operator.

R317-10-12. CEUs and Approved Training.

A. CEUs shall be required for renewal of each certificate according to the following schedule:

                                                    TABLE 3
                                      REQUIRED CEUs FOR RENEWAL OF EACH CERTIFICATE

                                      CEUs REQUIRED IN
       OPERATOR GRADE                 A 3-YEAR PERIOD
          Grade I                             2
          Grade II                            2
          Grade III                           3
          Grade IV                            3

B. All CEUs for certificate renewal shall be subject to review for approval to ensure that the training is applicable to wastewater works operation.

C. The council shall review training documentation and recommend appropriate CEU or credit assignment to the director for approval.

D. If a person holds multiple categories of wastewater operator certificates, such as treatment and collection, CEU credit may be received for each certificate from one training experience if the training is applicable to each category.

R317-10-13. Recommendations of the Council.

A. Initial recommendations.

1. All decisions of the council shall be in the form of recommendations for action by the director.

2. The council shall notify an applicant of any initial recommendation.

3. Any such applicant may, within 30 days of the date the council's notice was mailed, request reconsideration and an informal hearing before the council by writing to: Wastewater Operator Certification Council, Division of Water Quality, P.O. Box 144870, Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-4870.

4. The council shall notify the person of the time and location for the informal hearing.

B. Following the informal hearing, or the expiration of the period for requesting reconsideration, the council shall notify the director of its final recommendation.

C. A challenge to the director's determination regarding wastewater operator certification may be made as provided in Rule R305-7.

R317-10-14. Certificate Suspension and Revocation Procedures.

A. Grounds for suspending or revoking an operator's certificate may be any of the following:

1. demonstrated disregard for the public health and safety;

2. misrepresentation or falsification of figures, reports, or both, submitted to the State;

3. cheating on a certification exam;

4. falsely obtaining or altering a certificate; or

5. significant negligence, incompetence or misconduct in the performance of duties as an operator.

B. Suspension or revocation may result where it may be shown that circumstances and events relative to the operation of the wastewater works were under the operator's jurisdiction and control. Circumstances beyond the control of an operator shall not be grounds for suspension or revocation action.

C. The council may make recommendations to the director regarding the suspension or revocation of a certificate.

1. Prior to making any such recommendation, the council shall inform the individual in writing of the reasons the council is considering such a recommendation.

2. The council shall provide an opportunity for an informal hearing if requested by the certificate holder in writing within 30 days after the date of the notice.

D. Following an informal hearing, or the expiration of the period for requesting a hearing, the director shall make a final determination, after taking into consideration the final recommendation of the council.

E. A challenge to the director's determination may be made as provided in Rule R305-7.

R317-10-15. Noncompliance.

Noncompliance with these certification rules is a violation under Section 19-5-115 and may be subject to enforcement by the director.


water pollution, operator certification, wastewater treatment, renewals

Date of Enactment or Last Substantive Amendment

January 24, 2018

Notice of Continuation

July 6, 2017

Authorizing, Implemented, or Interpreted Law


Additional Information


For questions regarding the content or application of rules under Title R317, please contact the promulgating agency (Environmental Quality, Water Quality). A list of agencies with links to their homepages is available at http://www.utah.gov/government/agencylist.html or from http://www.rules.utah.gov/contact/agencycontacts.htm.