United States                   Office of Water              EPA 816-F-00-012
                   Environmental Protection           (4606)                    March 2000
                   Agency



  v>EPA     Fact  Sheet

                     Using DWSRF  Set-Aside


                     Funds for Operator


                     Certification

                     WHAT IS THE DWSRF?
                     The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program was established by the
                     Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Amendments of 1996. The program authorizes
                     grants to States to capitalize revolving loan funds. States use funds to provide loan
                     assistance to eligible public water systems for infrastructure improvements needed to
                     continue to ensure safe drinking water. The program also emphasizes the prevention of
                     drinking water contamination by allowing States to reserve a portion of their grants to
                     fund activities that encourage enhanced water system management and source water
                     protection.


                     WHAT IS OPERATOR CERTIFICATION?
                     In order to ensure continued protection of public health, it is important that the
                     operators of facilities providing drinking water to the public have adequate training.
                     Proper operations and maintenance by qualified persons can also prevent premature
                     depreciation of drinking water infrastructure. In order to further the SDWA objectives
                     of protecting public health, the 1996 Amendments require that EPA establish minimum
                     requirements for the certification and recertification of operators of community and
                     nontransient non-community water systems.  Final guidelines describing the minimum
                     requirements that States must meet were released by EPA on February 5, 1999.


                     Under SDWA 1419,  States have two years from the date of publication of the final
                     operator certification guidelines to develop and begin implementing an operator
                     certification program that meets the requirements of the guidelines. Beginning in fiscal
                     year 2001, any  State that has not done so will receive a 20 percent withholding of its
                     DWSRF allotment.


                     Under SDWA 1452(g)(2), States may use up to 10 percent of their DWSRF allotment
                     for State program management activities, which can include the development and
                     implementation of operator certification programs.
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WHAT ACTIVITIES ARE ELIGIBLE FOR SET-ASIDE FUNDING?
States can fund a number of operator certification implementation activities under the 10 percent State program
management [ 1452(g)(2)] set-aside.  Potential operator certification activities include, but are not limited to:
       Conducting stakeholder board/advisory committee meetings to obtain public input on program elements.
       Providing assistance to third parties to provide operator training.
       Organizing and conducting training courses for individuals to become certified, achieve a higher level of
       certification, or renew an existing certification.
       Developing, validating, processing, and grading certification exams.
       Tracking and monitoring the status of certified operators.
       Conducting enforcement activities (e.g., preparing administrative orders, revoking certificates, etc.).

HOW ARE STATES USING THIS SET-ASIDE?
       New Mexico is using funds to supplement its existing operator certification program. In addition to
       funding staff positions, the State will use funds to develop a database to track public water supply
       compliance with State operator certification regulations. The State will fund a contract to provide
       classroom operator training held throughout the State over the next two years.  Because the State
       recognizes that senior operators and others  with specialized experience often provide the best opportunity
       for expanding operator instruction, it will issue a contract to develop curricular material and instructor's
       guides for Train the Trainer workshops to improve skills of volunteer peer instructors.


       The SDWA Amendments expanded the universe of water systems that are required to have a certified
       operator to include small systems. Maine is using funds to contract with organizations such as the New
       England Water Works Association and Maine Rural Water Association to provide training to operators of
       small systems which often have limited resources and no prior experience with licensing. The State will
       also provide training to the governing boards of water systems about the need for compliance with
       regulations to facilitate informed policy decision-making for their systems.


       In North Carolina, the NC Public Water Supply Section of the Division of Environmental Health works
       cooperatively with State affiliates of the Waterworks Operators Association, Rural Water Association, and
       American Waterworks Association to provide comprehensive training to operators of water systems. The
       State intends to fund a full-time registrar to administer, evaluate, and provide record-keeping for the
       operator training program. The State will also use funds to develop and mail an annual training calendar
       and periodic newsletters to publicize the training activities of all providers.

HOW CAN I OBTAIN MORE INFORMATION?
Information about the DWSRF and operator certification programs is available on the
EPA Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (OGWDW) homepage
[www.epa.gov/safewater].  For questions concerning a specific State, a list of State or
EPA Regional DWSRF coordinators can be found on OGWDW's webpage.  You can
also call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at  1-800-426-4791.

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