Division of Environmental and Community Health

Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention

A Division of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services

DHHSMeCDCEnvironmental and Community HealthDrinking WaterPublic Water SystemsPWS Water Operator Requirements

Public Water System Operator Requirements

All Community, all Non-transient Non-Community (NTNC), and only Transient water systems using surface water supplies are required to place the operation of the water system under the direct supervision of a licensed water operator. Systems are classified according to size and complexity and the qualification of the operator must match the system classification. See Drinking Water Rules, Water Operator Rules, or visit the Water Operator Licensure page for clarifications.

Operator Requirements

To be in compliance with operator requirements, the system owner or representative and the licensed operator must submit a Designated Operator Form (PDF). Systems may designate multiple responsible persons but must identify one Primary Operator who must hold a minimum of license qualifications equal to the system's operating category.
Guidance on Becoming a VSWS Operator (PDF)

Contract Operations

Some systems contract operations out to another utility or water operator contracting firm. Owners and operators of public water systems share responsibility to public health. Designated operators are responsible for all water quality and quantity decisions. The DWP has developed a policy for determining when a designated operator is responsible for a system.

The DWP strongly suggests anyone entering into contract operations review the resources below.

Owners and Operators share responsibilities of running a water system. The Owner delegates responsibility of operation to a licensed water operator, however this delegation does not remove responsibility.

The operator may also delegate tasks to other persons under direct supervision- once again this delegation does not remove the responsibility. The operator is responsible for all water quality and quantity decisions in a public water system for which he/she is the designated operator. Persons making decisions or performing tasks related to water quantity and quality may be viewed as "operating a water system without a license," a criminal offense under the Water Operator Rules. Designated operators are responsible to supply directions for tasks preferably in the form of written standard operating procedures (SOP) and to train and observe persons performing these tasks to assure correct operation.

Guidelines for Establishing a Contract Operator

The Drinking Water Program has received several inquiries regarding establishing a contract operations document. It is strongly suggested that utilities and operators establish a contract for the protection of both parties.

The New England Water Works Association (NEWWA) provides Guidelines for Public Water Systems Contracting Water Operations (PDF). As with any agreement it is also suggested that a review by legal counsel be performed.

The Drinking Water Program does not have to review or approve contracts. However, the system should file a Public Water System Designated Operator Form within 30 days of any changes.