NEW CERTIFICATION PROGRAM FOR WASTEWATER OPERATORS IN QUEBEC

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NEW CERTIFICATION PROGRAM FOR WASTEWATER OPERATORS IN QUEBEC

Posted on 5 March 2016 by Hubert Colas
Posted in FluksAqua insights, Wastewater Management, Water plant operator,

Starting January 1, 2017, Québec water treatment plant operators must hold a certificate of qualification to operate wastewater sanitation works. The certification will be required for people responsible for taking samples, for operations, and for monitoring plant functions. This new measure is set out in the Règlement sur les ouvrages municipaux d’assainissement des eaux usées (ROMAEU), which came into effect in 2014.

THE OPERATOR TRAINING PROGRAM 

 

To obtain the certificate, operators must take the Programme de qualification des opérateurs en eaux usées offered by Collège Shawinigan, for which they can register starting in March 2016. Three different certificates are available based on the type of plant the operator works in:

 

  • Category 1: mechanized plants and aerated ponds whose average flow is above 50,000 m3/day;
  • Category 2: pond-type plants whose average flow is below 50,000 m3/day;
  • Category 3: plants that use technologies which require minimal intervention.

THE BENEFITS OF CERTIFICATION 

To find out about the certification program’s objectives as set by Québec’s ministry of sustainable development, environment and the fight against climate change (Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, orMDDELCC), FluksAqua spoke with Robert Tétreault, an expert in wastewater treatment from the Ministry’s municipal water department.

For Mr. Tétreault, the benefits are numerous: “We hope this new program will help improve the performance of sanitation works, provide more reliable results, create a better cost/benefit ratio on public investments, and provide better public health protection and greater security for workers.”

The Ministry also wants better recognition for Québec municipal plant operators outside the province, seeing as mandatory certification is already in force in all other Canadian provinces. In Ontario, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Operator Certification Program was put into place in 2015. Ontario accreditation aims to protect human health, protect the aquatic environment, and efficiently operate drinking water and wastewater infrastructures. If you’ve taken training in a province other than Québec, come share your experience in the forum!

JOB CHANGES IN THE PLANT: WHAT TO EXPECT? 
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What will happen when an operator changes roles within the plant? “They won’t have to take new training,” notes Mr. Tétreault. “A new certificate would be required, however, if they change plants to work in one from a different category.”

Lastly, employees responsible for operating the sewer network and for tasks that don’t contribute directly to the operation of the liquid treatment chain, are not targeted by this new regulation. “The staff working on sludge dewatering at a water treatment plant, for instance, or the staff that exclusively do equipment maintenance or repair, are not expected to hold a certificate,” specifies Mr. Tétreault.

OVER TO YOU!

The Ministry hopes that the program will instil pride among operators and improve public perception of the status of the wastewater operator profession, but what do you think?

The certificate of qualification is renewable every five years. Do you think this will improve your day-to-day as an operator, or do you see it as an administrative constraint? Speak your mind in our discussion forum. It’s easy to use and you can stay anonymous!

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About the author

Hubert Colas, Eng., Ph.D., is a senior executive at FluksAqua with more than 25 years of experience in consulting engineering and technology development.
In previous functions, Mr. Colas spearheaded a world-class leader in the design and operation of real time control of urban drainage systems. Hubert Colas implemented complex solutions to manage wet weather in real time and provided services and solutions to water and wastewater utilities.