On Monday, May 11, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) sent a letter to state certification officers thanking them for their service and acknowledging the critical importance of what they and their staff have done in responding to the coronavirus 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.

The letter points out that current operator certification/credentialing requirements are challenging due to the pandemic as operators attempt to obtain necessary course work and continuing education credits.  The letter requests that state certification officials consider, where statutes permit, instituting flexibility or grace periods regarding renewal dates as well as approval of online courses and training.

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

Currently, 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 state affiliates, are enhancing delivery of online training and education opportunities.

Increased interstate cooperation could potentially contribute to greater resilience by expediting the restoration of essential services to your communities. The letter urges the states  which have not yet done so, to explore the creation of reciprocity policies with contiguous states during emergencies and extreme weather events.