Water AND Wastewater
Operator Certification

Public water and wastewater treatment systems are operated by professionals that are certified by the State of South Dakota. Drinking water and wastewater treatment systems protect public health and the environment only if they are working and being operated correctly.  The Operator Certification Program is intended to protect public health, environmental quality, and water/wastewater systems' investment in their facilities.   A voluntary certification program was started in 1954.  The mandatory certification law was passed by the South Dakota State Legislature in 1970.  There are certifications in water treatment, water distribution, wastewater treatment, wastewater collection, stabilization ponds, small water treatment systems, and very small water systems.

Operator Certification Training & Exams

The Stabilization Pond class deals strictly w/ ponds and is the best class for preparing to take the Small WW System exam. The Basic WW Treatment class deals w/ all types of wastewater treatment other than ponds and is the best class for preparing to take the Class I WW Treatment exam. Small systems that use ponds for treatment can come into compliance with the OpCert Law by passing either the Class I WW exam or the Small WW System exam.

Water systems serving less than 500 people that use wells can come into compliance by passing the Small Water Treatment exam. Larger systems must pass the Class I Water Treatment exam.

All dates are tentative based on number of applicants. Certification exam applications must be submitted for ALL exams including retakes. Applications MUST be received by the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR) at least two weeks before the exam date, as required by the Operator Certification Rules (ARSD 74:21:02:40). Applicants will receive a confirmation of their exam receipt by the Department. Applications will be accepted via fax at 773-5286. Check or money orders made out to "DANR-Operator Certification" are required. Applications must be filled out completely as they are the sole source of information used to determine operator eligibility to take an exam.


The following must have a certified operator in direct responsible charge of their system:

  • All wastewater treatment or wastewater collection systems that serve more than 500 people.
  • All transient non-community water treatment systems using surface water or groundwater under the direct influence of surface water or treating with a disinfectant (chlorine, chlorine dioxide, ozone, etc.).
  • ALL community and non-transient non-community (NTNC) water treatment/distribution systems regardless of size.

The following operators must be certified:

  • Any operator in charge of one of the above water or wastewater systems.
  • Any operator making process control/system integrity decisions affecting water quality/quantity at a community or NTNC water system must be certified at any level.
  • An operator certified at the designated level of the treatment plant/distribution system must be available for each operating shift at a community or NTNC water system.

Exam References-ABC's exam questions are primarily referenced to publications from California State University, Sacramento (916-278-6142); the Water Environment Federation (WEF) (800-666-0206); and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) (800-926-7337). SD Association of Rural Water Systems (SDARWS) does have some study material; however, the best study material is from the above organizations. DANR does not supply any study material. For more information on references and study materials, please check the Association of Boards of Certification WEB page.

Any questions on the various training courses that are presented may be directed to the South Dakota Association of Rural Water Systems (605-556-7219). If there are any questions on certification, please contact Rob Kittay at the Drinking Water Program in Pierre (Phone: 605-773-4208) (Fax: 605-773-5286) (E-mail: Rob Kittay). More information can be found on the Operator Certification WEB Site.


The following forms are available for download:


All exams cost $60.00. Also after July 1 there will be no fee for the annual renewal.

Questions about operator certification should be directed to Rob Kittay at the Drinking Water Program in Pierre (phone: 605-773-4208 fax: 605-773-5286 email: Rob Kittay)

Question concerning the various training courses and for study materials should be be directed to the SD Association of Rural Water Systems (605-556-7219).

Starting with the 2010 renewal, a sliding scale for required contact hours will be used depending on the number and type of certificates an operator holds. You may view the courses you have completed and the associated contact hours using the following search:

Click here to load this Caspio Cloud Database
Number and Type of Certificates Contact Hours Required
Operator has one certificate (Class I or II) 10 contact hours every three years
Operator has one certificate (Class III or IV) 20 contact hours every three years
Operator has more than one certificate and all are Class I and II 15 contact hours every three years
Operator has more than one certificate and at least one certificate is a Class III or IV 30 contact hours every three years

For Further Assistance