Code Section Group

Water Code - WAT

DIVISION 7. WATER QUALITY [13000 - 16104]

  ( Division 7 repealed and added by Stats. 1969, Ch. 482. )

CHAPTER 9. Waste Water Treatment Plant Classification and Operator Certification [13625 - 13633]
  ( Heading of Chapter 9 amended by Stats. 1985, Ch. 653, Sec. 2. )

13625.
  

As used in this chapter unless the context otherwise requires, the following definitions apply:

(a) “Chief plant operator” means the person designated by the owner of the wastewater treatment plant as the person responsible for the overall operation of the wastewater treatment plant, including compliance with effluent limitations established in the wastewater treatment plant’s waste discharge requirements.

(b) “Operates” means actions or decisions to control performance or outcome of one or more wastewater treatment processes and includes the supervision of any other person who acts or makes decisions to control the performance or outcome of one or more wastewater treatment processes.

(c) “Wastewater certificate” means a certificate of competency issued by the state board stating that a person has met the requirements to be certified for a specific classification and grade level in the certification program. At a minimum, wastewater certificate classifications shall include operators and operators-in-training.

(d) (1) “Wastewater treatment plant” means any of the following:

(A) Any facility owned by a state, local, or federal agency and used in the treatment or reclamation of sewage or industrial wastes.

(B) Any privately owned facility used in the treatment or reclamation of sewage or industrial wastes, and regulated by the Public Utilities Commission pursuant to Sections 216 and 230.6 of, and Chapter 4 (commencing with Section 701) of Part 1 of Division 1 of, the Public Utilities Code.

(C) Any privately owned facility used primarily in the treatment or reclamation of sewage for which the state board or a regional board has issued waste discharge requirements.

(2) “Wastewater treatment plant” does not include onsite sewage treatment systems as regulated by the state board or a regional water quality control board pursuant to Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 13290).

(e) “Wastewater treatment process” means a process that improves the quality of wastewater before it is discharged from a wastewater treatment plant and includes all of the following:

(1) Use of preliminary, primary, pond, secondary, or tertiary treatment for liquid-solids separation of wastewater.

(2) Use of disinfection to inactivate or destroy pathogens in wastewater.

(3) Use of solids treatment for solids stabilization and volume reduction before removal from the wastewater treatment plant site.

(f) “Water treatment operator certificate” has the same meaning as defined in Section 106876 of the Health and Safety Code.

(g) “Water recycling treatment plant” means a wastewater treatment plant that further treats secondary or tertiary effluent, or both, for the purpose of meeting the uniform statewide recycling criteria established pursuant to Section 13521 for the use of recycled water.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 305, Sec. 19. (AB 2890) Effective January 1, 2017.)

13625.1.
  

(a) The state board may exempt from the requirements of this chapter any facility that is classified as a Class 1 plant by the state board under Section 3675 of Title 23 of the California Code of Regulations, and the facility could not, due to operator error, violate water quality objectives.

(b) An exemption granted pursuant to this section is valid for four years, and may be renewed by the state board upon request.

(c) The state board may condition an exemption under this section, and the exemption may be terminated at any time by the board.

(d) The state board may charge a reasonable administrative fee for processing a facility’s original or renewal application for exemption.

(Added by Stats. 2002, Ch. 422, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2003.)

13626.
  

The state board shall classify types of wastewater treatment plants for the purpose of determining the levels of competence necessary to operate them. The state board shall adopt regulations setting forth the types of plants and the factors on which the state board based its classification.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 305, Sec. 20. (AB 2890) Effective January 1, 2017.)

13627.
  

(a) Except as provided in Section 13625.1 and subdivision (b), a person who operates a wastewater treatment plant shall possess a valid, unexpired wastewater certificate of the appropriate grade.

(b) A person who operates a water recycling treatment plant may comply with subdivision (a) by possessing a valid, unexpired water treatment operator certificate of the appropriate grade.

(c) (1) All wastewater certificates shall be issued in accordance with regulations adopted by the state board. The state board shall develop and specify in its regulations the training necessary to qualify a person for a wastewater certificate for each type and class of plant. The state board may accept experience in lieu of qualification training.

(2) The state board shall evaluate opportunities for the following:

(A) Issuing a wastewater certificate by examination waiver to persons who performed duties comparable to the duties of an operator at a wastewater treatment plant while serving in the United States military.

(B) Award experience and education credits to persons who performed duties comparable to the duties of an operator at a wastewater treatment plant while serving in the United States military.

(3) The state board shall seek consultation with the United States Department of Defense in carrying out paragraph (2).

(4) If the state board identifies opportunities pursuant to paragraph (2), the state board shall, where appropriate, issue a wastewater certificate by examination waiver or award experience or education credits to persons who performed duties comparable to the duties of an operator at a wastewater treatment plant while serving in the United States military.

(d) The state board may refuse to grant, suspend, or revoke any wastewater certificate, or may place on probation or reprimand the certificate holder, upon any reasonable ground, including, but not limited to, all of the following reasons:

(1) Submitting false or misleading information on an application for a wastewater certificate or an examination for a wastewater certificate.

(2) The employment of fraud or deception in the course of operating the wastewater treatment plant.

(3) A wastewater certificate holder’s failure to use reasonable care or judgment in the operation of the plant.

(4) A wastewater certificate holder’s inability to perform operating duties properly.

(5) Willfully or negligently violating, or causing or allowing the violation of, waste discharge requirements or permits issued pursuant to the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. Sec. 1251 et seq.) or this division.

(6) Engaging in dishonest conduct during an examination for a wastewater certificate.

(e) The state board shall conduct all proceedings for the refusal to grant a wastewater certificate, and suspension or revocation of a certificate pursuant to subdivision (d), in accordance with the rules adopted pursuant to Section 185.

(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 760, Sec. 3. (AB 1588) Effective January 1, 2020.)

13627.1.
  

(a) Any person who commits either of the following violations is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be liable civilly in an amount not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100) for each day of violation:

(1) Operates a wastewater treatment plant that is not a water recycling treatment plant but does not hold a valid, unexpired wastewater certificate of the appropriate grade issued pursuant to this chapter.

(2) Operates a water recycling treatment plant but does not hold either a valid, unexpired wastewater certificate of the appropriate grade issued pursuant to this chapter or a valid, unexpired water treatment operator certificate of the appropriate grade.

(b) Any person or entity who commits either of the following violations is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be liable civilly in an amount not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100) for each day of violation:

(1) Owns or operates a wastewater treatment plant that is not a water recycling treatment plant that employs, or allows the employment of, any person who operates the wastewater treatment plant but does not hold a valid, unexpired wastewater certificate of the appropriate grade issued pursuant to this chapter.

(2) Owns or operates a water recycling treatment plant that employs, or allows the employment of, any person who operates the water recycling treatment plant but does not hold a valid, unexpired wastewater certificate of the appropriate grade issued pursuant to this chapter or a valid, unexpired water treatment operator certificate of the appropriate grade.

(c) Any person who commits any of the acts listed in paragraph (2), (3), (5), or (6) of subdivision (d) of Section 13627 or paragraph (3) or (5) of subdivision (c) of Section 13627.3 may be liable civilly in an amount not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each violation.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 305, Sec. 22. (AB 2890) Effective January 1, 2017.)

13627.2.
  

Any person who submits to the state board false or misleading information on an application for a wastewater certificate, on an application for an examination for a wastewater certificate, or on an application for registration may be liable civilly in an amount not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each violation.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 305, Sec. 23. (AB 2890) Effective January 1, 2017.)

13627.3.
  

(a) Any person or entity that contracts with the owner of a wastewater treatment plant to operate that plant shall register with the state board, and shall, within a year after the registration or the renewal of the registration, and annually thereafter, prepare and submit to the state board a report with all of the following information:

(1) The name and address of the person or entity.

(2) The name and address of the wastewater treatment plants that the person or entity operates, or has operated during the preceding year, and the name of the applicable regional board that oversees each wastewater treatment plant.

(3) The name and grade of each wastewater treatment plant operator employed at each plant.

(4) Other information that the state board requires.

(b) The state board shall, by regulation, prescribe the procedures, and requirements for, registration pursuant to subdivision (a).

(c) The state board may refuse to grant, and may suspend or revoke, any registration issued by the state board pursuant to this section for good cause, including, but not limited to, any of the following reasons:

(1) The submission of false or misleading information on an application for registration.

(2) (A) Employment of a person to operate a wastewater treatment plant that is not a water recycling treatment plant who does not hold a valid, unexpired wastewater certificate of the appropriate grade.

(B) Employment of a person to operate a water recycling treatment plant who does not hold either a valid, unexpired wastewater certificate of the appropriate grade issued pursuant to this chapter or a valid, unexpired water treatment operator certificate of the appropriate grade.

(3) Willfully or negligently causing or allowing a violation of waste discharge requirements or permits issued pursuant to the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. Sec. 1251 et seq.) or this division.

(4) Failure to meet the registration requirements prescribed by the state board pursuant to subdivision (b).

(5) Failure to use reasonable care in the management or operation of the wastewater treatment plant.

(d) The state board shall conduct all proceedings relating to the refusal to grant, or the suspension or revocation of, registration pursuant to subdivision (c) in accordance with the rules adopted pursuant to Section 185.

(e) The state board shall establish a fee schedule to pay for its costs to implement this section.

(f) Any person or entity that fails to comply with subdivision (a) is guilty of a misdemeanor and may be civilly liable in an amount not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each day of the violation.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 305, Sec. 24. (AB 2890) Effective January 1, 2017.)

13627.4.
  

(a) The state board may administratively impose the civil liability described in Section 13627.1, 13627.2, or 13627.3 in accordance with Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 13323) of Chapter 5.

(b) A remedy under this chapter is in addition to, and does not supersede or limit, any other remedy, civil or criminal, except that liability is not recoverable against an operator under subdivision (c) of Section 13627.1 for a violation for which liability is recovered against the operator under Section 13350 or 13385.

(Amended by Stats. 2010, Ch. 288, Sec. 51. (SB 1169) Effective January 1, 2011.)

13627.6.
  

The state board, by regulation, shall prescribe the procedures and requirements for designation of a person as the chief plant operator and the duties that a chief plant operator is required to perform.

(Added by Stats. 2016, Ch. 305, Sec. 26. (AB 2890) Effective January 1, 2017.)

13628.
  

(a) Wastewater certificates issued or renewed pursuant to this chapter on or after January 1, 2017, shall be renewed triennially, subject to compliance by applicants with renewal requirements prescribed by regulations.

(b) Fees shall be payable to the state board at the time of issuance of a wastewater certificate and at the time of renewal. The state board shall establish a fee schedule to provide revenues that shall not exceed the amount necessary, but shall be sufficient, to recover all the costs of this program.

(c) The state board may establish reduced fees for the issuance or renewal of a wastewater certificate for applicants who hold a valid, unexpired water treatment operator certificate or a valid, unexpired water distribution operator certificate.

(d) The state board shall set the amount of total revenue collected each year through the fee schedules established pursuant to this chapter at an amount equal to the amount appropriated by the Legislature in the annual Budget Act from the Wastewater Operator Certification Fund for expenditure for the administration of this chapter, taking into account the reserves in the fund. The state board shall review the fees each fiscal year and revise the fees as necessary to conform with the amounts appropriated by the Legislature. If the state board determines that the revenue collected during the preceding year was greater than, or less than, the amounts appropriated by the Legislature, the state board may further adjust the fees to compensate for the overcollection or undercollection of the revenue.

(e) The state board may adopt regulations pursuant to this section, including any subsequent adjustments to the fees or subsequent amendments to the regulations, as emergency regulations in accordance with Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code. The adoption of these emergency regulations is an emergency and shall be considered by the Office of Administrative Law as necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety, and general welfare. Notwithstanding Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code, any emergency regulations adopted by the state board, or any adjustment to the fees made by the state board pursuant to this section, shall remain in effect until revised by the state board.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 305, Sec. 27. (AB 2890) Effective January 1, 2017.)

13628.5.
  

(a) The Wastewater Operator Certification Fund is hereby created in the State Treasury.

(b) All of the following moneys shall be deposited in the Wastewater Operator Certification Fund:

(1) Any moneys made available by the Legislature for the purposes of the fund.

(2) Fees collected pursuant to this chapter.

(3) Notwithstanding Section 16305.7 of the Government Code, all interest earned upon moneys that are deposited in the fund.

(c) The state board may expend the moneys in the Wastewater Operator Certification Fund, upon appropriation by the Legislature, for purposes of administering this chapter.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 305, Sec. 28. (AB 2890) Effective January 1, 2017.)

13629.
  

The state board may approve courses of instruction at higher educational institutions that will qualify operators for each grade of certification. The state board shall also approve courses of instruction given by professional associations, or other private or public agencies that shall be deemed equivalent to courses of instruction given by higher educational institutions.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 305, Sec. 29. (AB 2890) Effective January 1, 2017.)

13630.
  

The state board is the state agency which is authorized to represent the state and its local governmental agencies in administering any federal or state funds available for wastewater treatment plant operator training. The state board may provide technical and financial assistance to organizations providing operator training programs.

(Amended by Stats. 2002, Ch. 422, Sec. 5. Effective January 1, 2003.)

13631.
  

Prior to adopting or amending any regulations or approving any courses for operator training, the state board shall appoint an advisory committee to assist it in carrying out its responsibilities under this chapter.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 1985, Ch. 420, Sec. 3. Effective July 30, 1985.)

13632.
  

The advisory committee appointed pursuant to Section 13631 shall consist of the following:

(a) Two persons from a statewide organization representing wastewater treatment plant operators who shall be employed at a wastewater treatment plant as operators.

(b) Two persons from statewide organizations representing municipalities, including counties or private utility wastewater treatment plants.

(c) Two persons from statewide organizations representing local sanitation agencies, other than agencies specified in subdivision (b).

(d) One person who is employed as an operator at a water recycling treatment plant.

(e) One person from an educational institution’s school or division of engineering.

(f) One person who is a member of an organized labor union that represents wastewater treatment plant operators.

(g) One person who is a professional engineer specializing in sanitary engineering.

(h) One person who is an active or former member of the United States military who is working, supervising, or managing or who has previously worked, supervised, or managed in wastewater treatment or distribution within their military service.

(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 760, Sec. 4. (AB 1588) Effective January 1, 2020.)

13633.
  

The advisory committee shall review all proposed regulations and make recommendations to the state board prior to adoption of any regulations or amendments thereto.

(Repealed and added by Stats. 1985, Ch. 420, Sec. 3. Effective July 30, 1985.)

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