Qualified Volunteers Needed for the Advanced Water Treatment Validation Survey

CWEA is looking for qualified volunteers for the Advanced Water Treatment Job Analysis Validation Survey panel. See below for background and qualifications. Those who are interested can contact Chris Lundeen.

The California State Water Resources Control Board, Office of Operator Certification administers the certification of wastewater and water treatment plant operators. Advanced Water Purification Facilities use operators with certifications from water / wastewater or both. Water Recycling Treatment Plants use sophisticated operations and processes such as microfiltration (MF), reverse osmosis (RO), and advanced oxidation processes (AOP) to produce high-quality purified water that meets state criteria for non-potable and potable reuse standards.

The wastewater and water treatment operator certification programs were developed separately, each certification program having work and educational requirements that differ for their respective certification.

While the existing water and wastewater certification exams focus on “traditional” water and wastewater treatment processes, respectively, but do not cover advanced water treatment (AWT) or potable reuse-specific regulations and/or concerns. While the current certification program provides competent water and wastewater treatment operators to staff AWT facilities, there remain gaps in the existing testing and examination process; these exams do not adequately address the operational knowledge and skills required to operate these highly technical and specialized AWT equipment and processes.


Citing a need for the training and certification of Advanced Water Recycling Plant operators, the California-Nevada Section of American Water Works Association (CA-NV AWWA) undertook the development of a certification program for the AWT operator certification. A collaborative effort including CA-NV AWWA, California Water Environment Association (CWEA), and other industry partners representing California Urban Water Agencies (CUWA) and California Association of Sewerage Agencies (CASA) are working towards developing new industry certification standards for recycled / purified water operators.

The job analysis is a critical component of any formal certification program to identify tasks, knowledge, skills and abilities required to competently and successfully perform the duties required of the job or profession. The consulting services of Comira, Inc. have been retained to facilitate a workshop (up to 4 days) with industry experts to identify specific duties and responsibilities of operators functioning in the role of AWT or water recycling treatment plant operator. Results of the job analysis will be used to create accurate and defensible examination/testing specifications, from which a credentialed certification for AWT operator can be established.


The AWT Certification Committee is soliciting experienced AWT operators and related roles to serve on the Advanced Water Treatment Job Analysis Validation Survey panel. Participants should include: skilled operators, supervisors, educators, engineers and equipment/industry suppliers familiar with MF, RO, UV/AOP, Ozone, and potentially other advanced treatment processes. Solicitation of panelists will not be limited to experienced incumbents, but will also seek newer incumbents. Representatives with a wide variety of work-related experience, geographical diversity and expertise will be considered.

Validation Survey Panelists

A focus group of subject matter experts will develop a blueprint of a job function for a minimally competent AWT operator. More details about the workshop activities are noted below for your information. Your task will be to review the outcomes of the blueprint they develop. Using your experience, you will provide valuable feedback on the frequency and criticality of various knowledge, skills and abilities specified in the survey. The workshop panelists will then review the accumulated input from all survey respondents. The blueprint will be refined, as necessary.


October – November the survey should be ready for distribution to you and the other survey panelists. Your completed responses coming back swiftly will help us to make better informed decisions on our next steps!!


SME Workshop (this will be completed before you receive the survey)

The consulting firm of Comira, Inc. will facilitate up to a four (4)-day, in-person focus group meeting/workshop with pre-selected workshop panelists, conducting structured group discussions on the full scope of job functions/characteristics that define the functions of a minimally competent AWT operator. Some of the key outcomes will include:

• Clearly defined position of an advanced water treatment operator,

• Clearly defined job functions of an advanced water treatment operator,

• Content areas (content domains and sub-domains) to be assessed by the AWT certification examination,

• Job tasks (task statements) associated with each content domain, and

• Areas of knowledge (knowledge statements) required for practice as an advanced water treatment operator.

The job analysis workshop will be followed by a review of a validation survey of job incumbents. In this one-day workshop, the consultant will present the results from the validation survey and lead the SMEs in a structured review and discussion. The SMEs will determine whether each task and knowledge statement should be retained for inclusion in the final test specifications. The SMEs will then evaluate and adjust (if needed) the content domain and sub-domain weights based on the survey data for the set of retained task statements. The final work product is the panel-recommended test blueprint (the set of content domains/sub-domains and associated weights).

Phase 2: Job Analysis Summary

The California-Nevada Section of the American Water Works Association (CA-NV AWWA) together with the California Water Environment Association (CWEA) and many other industry players are working towards developing a new industry certification for drinking water, wastewater, and recycled / purified water operators.

We seek experienced advanced water treatment operators to participate in a validation survey for the development of a blueprint for an advanced water treatment / potable reuse operator. Operators must have experience in one or more of the following unit processes to be the most qualified.

Microfiltration & Ultrafiltration

Nanofiltration & Reverse Osmosis

Activated Carbon

Advanced Oxidation (UV, Ozone)

Ultraviolet Disinfection


Qualifications expected:

• Experience with any AWT unit process / potable reuse / future direct potable reuse

• Experience developing education materials: local SOP, adjunct faculty, manuals (Standards, local)

• Experience developing past certifications: treatment, distributions, collections

• Operators: water, wastewater, recycling/purification

• Engineers: design, process,

• Regulations: Federal, State, Local compliance knowledge (could be operators or engineers)

• Supervisors: shift, lead, chief

Scope of Work:

1. FILLED = Workshop panel participants will develop a blueprint of what job functions/characteristics = domains, task, knowledge, skills and abilities = a minimally competent AWT/PR Operator

  • Task duration = ~4 month period of time
  • Workshop details (up to 4 days; may be set for 2 days and 2 days)
    • 15-20 participants
    • Operations and process theory/design experts

2. SEEKING CANDIDATES = Validation Survey (may be distributed in late Oct or early Nov 2016)

  • A survey will be created to seek input from a broader population of experienced AWT operators regarding the blueprint developed during the workshop
  • Survey participants will be asked to rate each blueprint element regarding the frequency, necessity, seriousness of each component
  • Workshop panelists will review the tabulated results from the validation survey
  • Workshop panelists will finalize the blueprint for use in future phases of this project

Acknowledge your interest and availability to complete the validation survey to clundeen@cwea.org. Call with any questions = (510) 382-7800 x104.

  • Your contact information with name, organization, phone & email ID
  • Your related experience and expertise (résumé, CV or other documentation)

About the Author

Megan Barillo

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