Another example could be Company ABC, who just had a new well drilled to supply water to their facility.  The well produces more than enough water to meet their needs.  There's just one problem; the well is in a field which is home to livestock, and is 50 feet from a river, and has begun to produce bacteria and high levels of nitrates.  What is causing this problem?  It could be due to the fact that the well was constructed with a very shallow annular seal, which is designed to keep out contamination from surface water.  If an educated and experienced water operator had been involved in at least overseeing the new well being constructed, they could have suggested moving the well to a different location as well as using a much deeper annular seal to prevent surface water contamination.  Now, company ABC is forced to install continuous chlorine injection because the well will not be permitted without it, due to the bacteria issue.  They are also forced to purchase a treatment system to deal with the nitrate contamination, or else not use the water.  In the end this adds significant operating costs to the company, all because an operator was either not consulted in the process, or did not know any better.  

What are some of the specific duties to be performed or have oversight by an operator?

If your business is provided water by a Municipality (City or Town) or Mutual Water Company (MWC), then it is most likely that you individually are not required to have an operator on file.  This is because the municipality or MWC has in its employ an operator or operators that oversee and maintain the water distribution and treatment system.  Your fees and water rates are typically what go to cover the cost of having a contract operator on file.  

​A water operator should be worth what you pay them.  They should be able to ensure that you as a water system stay in compliance, so that you don't end up with violations and costly fees.  They should know what your specific water system requirements are and make sure that they are met.  They should also have the experience and knowledge to help a water system avoid costly mistakes and expensive oversights.  This does not necessarily mean that they personally must perform every task, but rather that they ensure every task gets done, and done right. 

A water operator should have a real-world understanding of how water systems operate.  We believe a water system operator should also take a "common-sense" approach to water distribution and treatment.  There is no need to over-engineer a basic distribution system consisting of a well and a pressure tank, by adding things like automated valves and intricate electronics.  Yet at the same time, real-time monitoring equipment can be vital and necessary in complex treatment systems.  They should understand the principles that apply to water systems such as plumbing codes and knowledge of water hydraulics.  While it is not required by any standard, it is extremely helpful to have a good understanding of things like electrical circuits and components, booster pumps, and pressure systems, to name a few things.  Understanding how every component of a water system works is vital to operating a water system.  Being able to troubleshoot water system components on site, in real-time, is an invaluable skill to have.  

Finally, a water operator should take serious the importance of their job.  The end goal is to ensure clean and safe drinking water is provided to the public.  

  • Knowing what regulations and standards apply to the water system based on its location, its classification, and the population is serves.    
  • Ensure the water system is operated in a manner that complies with local and state regulations.  
  • Facilitating or performing daily, weekly, monthly, and/or quarterly water system checks as required by regulators.  An example of this would be checking the chlorine residual of a water system that is under continuous chlorine injection.  
  • Ensure water quality testing is done in accordance with the SWRCB's monitoring schedule.  
  • Keeping accurate, up-to-date records of all sampling that has been performed.  
  • Prepare required documentation for the water system including, but not limited to Annual Reports (AR), Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR), Emergency Notification Plans (ENP), and Bacteriological Sampling Site Plans (BSSP).  
  • Making sure proper notices (such as Do Not Drink or Boil Water Order) are distributed when routine bacteria samples are positive, or when a primary contaminant exceeds the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL).  
  • Overseeing maintenance, repairs, and/or replacement of all components of a water system to ensure that all materials used meet standards and regulations.  Not only that, but making sure that the right equipment is used for the way the water system is designed to function.  
  • Communicating with state officials as needed regarding things like water system amendments, plans for new construction, violations, and permitting of planned treatment systems.  



​​​Take for example, Company XYZ, who recently spent all of their budgeted money on a new treatment system which is now up and running, and it does an adequate job of removing contaminants in the water.  The time comes for inspection and permitting of the treatment system, only for the regulators to discover that half of the equipment used has no seal of approval from the NSF (National Safety Foundation).  Because the components being used are not NSF certified, the treatment system will not be permitted for use.  An educated and experienced water operator should have been able to spot this before the equipment was purchased and give direction.

Please feel free to check out information on our contractors license and what it means to be a licensed contractor

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that would benefit you to read and understand -

A water operator should have oversight of every aspect of a water system.  This means being involved in the planning of where a new well is going to be drilled and how it is constructed, to ensuring proper and timely water quality testing is performed, and even assisting in and/or preparing regulatory documents such as Annual Reports, Emergency Notification Plans, or Bacteriological Sampling Site Plans, to name a few of the responsibilities.  

The term "oversight" is just that.  If a water operator is not licensed to do pump work or plumb in fixtures, they should not perform that task.  They should however have oversight of any and all projects relating to their water system, to ensure things are done in a manner that complies with local, state, and federal regulations.  Furthermore, a water operator should have oversight of all projects relating to the water system to ensure that proper materials and equipment are used, and to prevent costly mistakes and oversights.  

Any business, organization, or even municipality that is considered a "public water system" is required to have some level of operator on file.  This includes but is not limited to things like restaurants, retailers, gas stations, commercial & industrial facilities, and even non-profit organizations like churches and charities.  This is a requirement for any entity that provides any amount of potable (drinking) water to anybody on their premises, whether an employee or customer.  This does not apply to a single-family residence.  

​​​​​​Public Water System Classification Flow-Chart


Some water systems elect to train an in-house person to be their operator.  It is often easier to have somebody in an organization, who knows the in's and out's of the day-to-day operations, to take on the job of being a water operator.  The process is fairly straight-forward, requiring a course of study, at the end of which a test can be taken to become either a distribution operator or a treatment operator.  There are certain continuing education requirements that must be met, and with each grade or level of license, the requirements increase.  

If, however, the task of operating a water system seems overwhelming, or you do not have anyone in your organization that is able to undertake the job, that is where we can help.  

We provide solutions for all of the needs a public water system has.  This includes, but is not limited to, routine water quality sampling, regulatory document preparation, installation of treatment systems for removal of primary and secondary contaminants, bacteriological treatment systems such as chlorine injection or Ultra-Violet sterilization, installation of submersible pumps in wells, installation of above-ground storage and booster-pump systems, and virtually any other need a water system might have.  Thanks to good relationships with local vendors, we can also provide all of the equipment for the systems and components listed above, eliminating third party transaction, or the "middle-man".    

As an organization we employ individuals who have extensive experience in the fields of water treatment, submersible and above-ground pumps, plumbing, and water systems in general.  This combination of experience is vitally important in providing water operator services to a water system.  It is not enough to have a theoretical knowledge of water treatment processes and systems, but rather to have hands-on experience of the systems and components of a water system.  This plays a key role in providing top quality service to our customers.  

Most importantly, we are licensed contractors, holding the proper licences to install and maintain all of the above equipment and components in accordance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations.  

To get a better understanding of this, take a city for example.  They have one or more water treatment facilities which are fed water from one or more sources, such as ground-water wells, surface water like lakes or rivers, and also aqua ducts.  The operators oversee the treatment facility operation, including monitoring water storage levels, system pressures, disinfection processes, and also sampling water for quality testing.  The water is then fed through a distribution system (plumbing) and ultimately ends up at your house or place of business.  All of that is overseen by distribution and treatment operators of varying levels, and is regulated by the Division of Drinking Water (DDW) which is a devision of the State Water Resource Control Board (SWRCB).  The DDW monitors every public water system for compliance to regulations such as water quality testing and having all of the documents that a public water system is required to have.  Examples of these would be an Emergency Notification Plan (ENP) or a Bacteriological Sampling Site Plan (BSSP).  

In this example, safe water is delivered to your place of business or house, and you pay some sort of fee or water rate to the city, in exchange for them "operating" the treatment and distribution systems which provide you with potable water.  

So what if you don't get your water from a city or MWC?

In most cases this means your water comes from a source that is on your property, typically a ground-water well which is under your control.  A ground-water well is basically a hole in the ground that fills up with water.  A submersible pump along with water pipe is installed into the well, and water is pumped from the well, above ground, and into some sort of storage and/or pressure system.  It is then distributed into your buildings, through your plumbing, for you to use.  This is what a water system is; a source that water is pulled from, and the plumbing system that distributes it to the final point-of-use. 

If your water system is part of your personal residence, than you are not required to have an operator. 

If your water system is any kind of business or organization where you provide any form of potable water to 25 or more people, or 15 or more service connections (houses/buildings) for at least 60 days out of the year, you are considered a "public water system" and are required to comply with public water system regulations.  

For the legal definition of a public water system, and further information, please visit the links below.    ​​