Presented in Partnership with:

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive (Wastewater Treatment)

by Mike McGinness, EcoShield Environmental Systems, Inc.
April, 2006

Wastewater Treatment Systems Operator Certification

Q. What amount of time does an Industrial Wastewater Treatment Systems Operator have to pass the certification test to obtain the WWT 1 entry level certificate?

Could a company have another person that is Ceritfiied sign off on the necessary reports and paperwork that must be submitted in lieu of the Wastewater Operator that is not certified?

How many reasonable attempts at passing the test will the requirements allow for a potential operator?

Our reports are submitted to the local city Wastewater treatment plant monthly. The manager at this plant has reassured me that we have an excellent compliance record with none of our reports being out of compliance, ever. Having said that, if our current operator cannot pass this test but still appears to be capable of performing his job duties in a compliant manner, could the local city Industrial Wastewater Treatment System Operator serve as our proxy to verify that we are meeting the requirements?

More Information:

Sounds like you are asking about a local city, county or state issue (regulation). Before I can address your question I need to know where your plant and waste water system is located (jurisdiction).


Also, I gather from your comments below that your discharge is from a PRE-Treatment system that discharges to a city waste water treatment plant. Is this correct?


Lastly, where did you get the idea that there is a certification requirement for the operator? Please give me any specific details you have on this.

Our City representative visited the site this past week and suggested that we may not be in compliance with Fed./State regulations, although no specific statute or code was given for reference.

With the answer to these questions I should be able to answer your question.

Lastly I might need to know what your waste water treatment system permit limits are? What are you removing?

We do not have a permit with the city state or Fed. Govts. We are neutralizing the ph of a Caustic Soda (CAS 1310-73-2) solution mixed with water 30/70, with Hydrochloric acid. The remaining sludge from the caustic beads is deposited at a local land fill, with the neutralized water released into the citys storm water drain

A. First of all I sincerely hope it is not a "city storm water drain" that goes direct to the environment that you are discharging too!!! If it is, you would stop immediately!!!!!! More likely it is the citys "sanitary sewer drain" that you are discharging to (some areas have combined sewers, but that is another issue and they are handled as sanitary sewers on the east coast.). Storm drains typically go straight into the environment, with no pretreatment!

To answer your original question, there are no federal requirements for certification of the operator of a wastewater pretreatment system that discharges to a city POTW but there is a state operator certification requirement in Georgia for pretreatment and discharge to a SANITARY SEWER. There is also an exemption listed for simple pH adjustment and sedimentaion that you might, or might not qualify for that is listed in the regulation. For the details go to:

However, what you may need to worry about is strict compliance with state and federal hazardous waste rules and exemption regulations for waste water pretreatment and elementary neutralization systems at both the federal and state levels. They have to do with how the waste is stored, transported from place to place in your facility, treated on site and discharged. If the used waste caustic solution has a pH of 12.5 or higher it is considered hazardous waste. There are Clean Water Act regulations allowing elementary neutralization of used waste caustic but there are rules in the reg that must be followed.

What exactly is the caustic solution used for in your plant before it is neutralized???

Also, how is it used?

Keep in mind that what it is contaminated with as a result of its use may affect its regulation.

Do you have TCLP test data for heavy metals on the waste caustic and sludge?



The information contained in this site is provided for your review and convenience. It is not intended to provide legal advice with respect to any federal, state, or local regulation.
You should consult with legal counsel and appropriate authorities before interpreting any regulations or undertaking any specific course of action.

Please note that many of the regulatory discussions on STERC refer to federal regulations. In many cases, states or local governments have promulgated relevant rules and standards
that are different and/or more stringent than the federal regulations. Therefore, to assure full compliance, you should investigate and comply with all applicable federal, state and local regulations.