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Flexible Operator Certification/Credentialing Requirements During COVID-19 Response

Tuesday, May 19, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Shana Schwarz
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On behalf of our combined nationwide memberships, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) want to thank you, your staff, and your peers in other state certification/credentialing programs for your work responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Working together, the water sector is proving that we can continue to provide the vital services of water distribution, wastewater collection, water and wastewater treatment so necessary to ensuring public health and protecting the environment under very challenging conditions. Thank you!
As the response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the need for social distancing and other factors are limiting drinking water and wastewater operators’ ability to meet operator
certification/credentialing requirements. Current operator certification/credentialing
requirements do not consider the challenges posed by the pandemic as operators attempt to obtain necessary course work and continuing education credits. Drinking water and
wastewater systems must have appropriately certified/credentialed employees to operate.
WEF and AWWA members in some states continue to encounter difficulties accessing training to renew or upgrade operator certifications/credentials. Specific challenges include:


1. State deadlines for the renewal of operator licenses that cannot be met using
available educational opportunities
2. Lack of state approval to utilize online courses to meet operator certification
requirements
We appreciate the steps that state programs, including your own, have taken to facilitate
operator certification/credentialing during the current pandemic.

We strongly encourage agencies that have not yet done so to consider, where statutes permit, instituting flexibility or grace periods regarding renewal dates and expediting approval of online courses and training.
Even as some states reduce social distancing requirements, large group events may continue to be prohibited, and measures remain in place to protect essential workers, including travel restrictions. Consequently, many operators are unable to attend in-person training sessions necessary to obtain required continuing education credits. To improve the availability of classes, WEF and AWWA, in concert with our state affiliates, are enhancing our delivery of online training and education opportunities. If you have any thoughts on what type of content would best serve your constituents, we would like to hear from you. We encourage you to reach out and let us know what actions you may have already taken.
Increased interstate cooperation could potentially contribute to greater resilience by expediting the restoration of essential services to your communities. We urge you to explore the creation of reciprocity policies with contiguous states during emergencies and extreme weather events.
WEF and AWWA are dedicated to the protection of public health and the environment and look forward to continuing to partner with you to help our communities to fight and prevail over COVID-19 and its impacts. Should you have questions or want to engage further to collaborate in this effort, please contact our local affiliates, Claudio Ternieden, WEF Government Affairs, at cternieden@wef.org or Steve Via, AWWA, Federal Affairs, at svia@awwa.org.


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