What are the Responsibilities of the Certified Operator?

The quick answer is, "whatever it takes to assure safe drinking water is in adequate supply and/or to discharge wastewater effluent without endangering state waters." System users expect "whatever it takes" will be done to provide safe water and to protect our state waters.

Often they don't realize what's involved. Here is a list to show them:

  1. Sampling and/or monitoring to meet extensive legal requirements.
  2. Keeping records for #1 above.
  3. Being readily available to:
    1. act on sampling, monitoring and reporting to regulatory agencies;
    2. respond to system inspections, system users or DEQ personnel;
    3. react to system malfunctions.
  4. Issuing notice to users when the systems are not in compliance and there is a health risk.
  5. Protecting, maintaining and/or operating equipment purchased at public or user expense to provide safe drinking water in adequate supply or process safe effluent.
  6. Keeping records on the system maintenance program for #5.
  7. Calculating and making chemical applications or removals in order to protect public health or state waters or parts of the system.
  8. Understanding and preventing what may endanger a safe drinking water supply or wastewater effluent or equipment used to do the same.
  9. Assuring that newly installed or repaired equipment or systems meet legal requirements adopted to protect the public health and environment.
  10. Notifying the DEQ of the termination of your responsibilities to a system and advising your replacement that he/she requires certification.

Twelve Steps To Become A Certified Operator


  1. Drinking Water Application or Wastewater Application 
  2. Read information received thoroughly
    1. Review checklist
  3. Fully complete application
    1. Personal information (keep Certification Office informed of change)
    2. Experience used to determine if fully certified
    3. Education--if no High School Diploma or G.E.D. a Competency Test must be taken.
  4. Determine what class and type of system (see Certification Chart)
  5. Fill in all applicable water and wastewater experience
  6. Fill in all applicable education (post-secondary can count up to half of experience requirement)
  7. Sign and date the back of the application
  8. Mail it back with fees
    1. Study!  Call the Certification Office with questions.
  9. Take the examination. NOTE: There is a 30 day waiting period from the date that the application is received by our office before the exam may be taken. 
  10. Wait for the results (approximately 2 weeks)

Temporary Operator Certification Statutes & Rules - Montana laws and rules on temporary certification of water and wastewater operators. A temporary certificate means a certificate that is issued to a department-approved applicant, who does not meet the full certification requirements, to be an operator in responsible charge of a specified system.