Certification Chief Says California
Has Enough Drinking Water Operators
3 Questions for Annette Caraway
ANNETTE CARAWAY IS THE CERTIFICATION CHIEF
for California’s Water and Wastewater Operator
SOURCE. Some people use the term Silver Tsunami to describe the
challenges the water industry faces with baby boomers retiring. Does
California have enough operators in the pipeline?
CARAWAY: Based on the information operators
supply us, which is basically their birthday, if every
last operator at age 60-65 retired, there are enough
in the lower grades to move up. Between 60-65,
we’ve got about 1,800 operators at all levels. At all
levels aged 55-59, we have 2,100 treatment opera-tors
and 2,800 distribution operators. This means if
every operator, whether distribution or treatment
retired, there are enough operators in the lower lev-els
to promote if they pass the next level exam and
meet the experience criteria. I don’t foresee a crisis.
SOURCE. That’s not to say that people who want
to move up won’t have to arrange to acquire the necessary experience
and may have to relocate to take advantage of this opportunity. How
about people entering the system at the lower levels?
CARAWAY: At this time, we are seeing an increase in exam appli-cants
in both distribution and treatment; 1,200-1300 applicants were
approved for the drinking water treatment exam in November 2014. In
April 2015, 1,600 were approved.
SOURCE. California continues to draw people from other states.
What about operators who have experience elsewhere?
CARAWAY: If their experience is from another state and they were
certified, our technical advisor will review the requirements of that state
in comparison to California. If they’re coming in from a Level 5 plant in
Maine, maybe 1,000 connections, which would be classified as a Level
3 or lower in California, the highest level they would be qualified at
without completing the examination process is a T3.
SOURCE. Given the move of Drinking Water Certification from the
Department of Public Health to the State Water Resources Control
Board, do you foresee any changes in California’s drinking water certi-fication
regulations? What about advanced treatment technologies?
CARAWAY: At this time, I don’t foresee any regulation changes. The
first priority has been our core function, which is providing the sched-uled
exams, verifying certification, and making sure certificate renewal
requirements are met. Also “blending the water” for drinking water and
wastewater operator certification program staff, which means seeing
that each program is functioning properly and efficiently. We’ve gotten
through the first year, and both staffs have done a stellar job. It’s going
to take a while to streamline procedures, and in the meantime, there are
four drinking water and two wastewater exams per year to conduct. So
it’s too soon to have an idea about regulation changes.
At this time there’s no discussion in regards to new certificate re-quirements
for seawater desalination or indirect or direct potable reuse.
Considering the drought and other issues associ-ated
with a sustainable water source, these may be
considerations in the future. Drinking water regula-tions
are vague with regard to desalination plants.
From what I understand, desal plant operators are
considered drinking water treatment operators if the
quality of water meets the health and safety stan-dards
of drinking water. The operator certification
required would depend on the classification of the
plant and the level of staffing. S
At this time there’s no
discussion in regards
to new certificate
or indirect or direct
By Penelope Grenoble, SOURCE Editor