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Water Operators

Information about registration required for water operation companies and licensing for water operators.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) promulgated new and revised rules on September 27, 2007 which will affect many licensing programs.

Please review the URL below to become acquainted with the newly adopted Chapter 30 rules for Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapter 30, Subchapter K: Public Water System Operators and Operations Companies, Rules 30.381 - 30.402. Exit the TCEQ 

Water Operator Licensing Program

The Water Operator Licensing Program staff can answer routine operator inquiries. Below is the phone number and other means for contacting the program:

  • Location - The first floor in building D of the TCEQ complex located at 12100 Park 35 Circle in Austin, Texas.
  • Office Hours - 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday (excluding Exit the TCEQ holidays).
  • Phone number - 512/239-6133
    • Press #1 for New Applications or Exams
    • Press #2 for Renewals
  • Fax - 512/239-6272
  • Email address - licenses@tceq.texas.gov
  • Mailing Address - TCEQ, Water Operator Licensing Program, MC-178, PO Box 13087, Austin, TX 78711-3087

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Public Water System Operations Companies

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How does an operations company register with the TCEQ?

Submit the registration form (PDF) (Help with PDF) with the appropriate fee listed below. If an operations company is bought or sold or a name change occurs, the "new" company must apply for a new registration.

Number of Public Water Systems ServedNew and Renewal FeesValidity Period
0 - 4 $122 3 years
5 - 9 $240 3 Years
10 - 19 $399 3 Years
20 or More $636 3 Years

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How often must an operations company report to the TCEQ?

When a public water system operating company submits an application to obtain or renew a registration, it must submit a report (PDF) (Help with PDF) to the executive director. Governmental entities or quasi-governmental entities, such as river authorities, that contract to operate a public water system must also submit a yearly report. The report must include:

  • the public water system operating company name, registration number, location, and mailing address
  • the public water system identification number and name for each system operated
  • the dates of operation during the reporting period
  • the names and license numbers of all licensed operators employed by the operations company
  • the names of the licensed chief operators and licensed supervisors
  • any additional information required by the executive director

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Public Water System Operators

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Why do I need a license?

To assure the public that their drinking water is safe; meets all drinking water quality standards; and is properly produced, treated, and distributed by a competent public water system operator.

Additionally, the law requires it. Please see this link for facility staffing requirements: Title 30 TAC, Chapter 290.46(e)(1) Exit the TCEQ

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How do I become licensed?

To become licensed as a public water system operator, you must have the required education and experience, complete the related training, pay an application fee, and pass an exam. More information about taking this exam can be found under computer-based testing and general exam schedule.

GED = General Equivalency Diploma
HS = High School Diploma

To obtain this license class ...If you have this much education ...You need this many years of experience3 ...You need this much basic training credit ...You must pay an application fee of ...This license remains valid for ...
A
(waterworks)
Master's Degree2
Bachelor's Degree 2
HS or GED

4 Years

5 Years
8 Years (2)*
164 Hours $111 3 Years
B
(surface water, groundwater, or distribution)
Bachelor's Degree2
HS or GED

2.5 Years
5 Years (2) *
100 Hours
Groundwater
and
Distribution

124 Hours
Surface Water
$111 3 Years
C
(surface water, groundwater, or distribution)
HS or GED 2 Years (1) *
60 Hours Groundwater and Distribution

64 Hours Surface Water
$111 3 Years
D 1
(water)
HS or GED None
20 Hours Basic Water
$111 3 Years
1 Class D Water Operator Licenses are not renewable for surface water treatment plant operators, operators of groundwater production facilities under the influence of surface water, operators of groundwater production facilities with 250 or more connections, or more than 750 population, operators working as supervisors in a distribution system with 250 or more connections, or for individuals who operate multiple systems where the total number of connections for all systems combined is 250 or more.

2 Only college graduates with a major in chemistry, biology, engineering, microbiology, bacteriology, or another similar discipline as approved by the executive director.

3 One year of college (32 semester hours), an additional 40 hours of training credit, or experience in a related field may be substituted for each year of experience.

Individuals may substitute college credits or additional approved training for work experience.

* The number in parentheses in the table above indicates the maximum number of years permitted for substituting experience.

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What type of training must I complete for a license?

Required and elective courses are available as classroom training, on-line training, and correspondence training. Review the table below the next paragraph, and then you can find approved providers for the course(s) you need to take using the web page at:

Water Operator Courses and Providers

All courses listed below are 20-hour courses, except Intermediate Water Laboratory, which is a 32-hour course and Water Technology which is a 40 hour course.

R = Required for initial license
E = Elective for initial license
N/R = Not Required for initial license, but will apply toward total training hours


These training courses may also be applied toward continuing education (CEU's) credit hours for renewal, except for the Basic Water Operations course, which will not apply toward renewal continuing education (CEU's) credit hours for Class A and Class B operators.

License Type & Class --->DC DistributionC GroundC SurfaceB DistributionB GroundB SurfaceA
Training Course Name
Basic Waterworks Operation* R R R R N/R N/R N/R N/R
Water Distribution* N/R R E N/R R R R R
Groundwater Production* N/R N/R R N/R N/R R N/R R
Surface Water Production I N/R N/R N/R R N/R N/R R R
Surface Water Production II N/R N/R N/R R N/R N/R R R
Water Laboratory N/R E E N/R E R R R
Water Utility Safety N/R E E N/R R R R R
Water Utility Calculations N/R E E N/R E E N/R N/R
Water Utility Management*@ N/R N/R N/R N/R E E R R
Pump & Motor Maintenance N/R E E N/R R E N/R N/R
Valve & Hydrant Maintenance N/R E E N/R R E N/R N/R
Chlorinator Maintenance N/R E E N/R E E N/R N/R
Water Technology (40 Hours) N/R N/R N/R N/R N/R N/R N/R N/R
* Course is available by correspondence.

@ Management Training by Correspondence from California State University - On June 27, 2002, TCEQ notified California State University at Sacramento that its water and wastewater operator training course "Utility Management" was re-evaluated and its approval was changed from 20 hours to eight (8) hours of general licensing credit. Persons who completed this course since November 1998 or who registered for the course before June 27, 2002 and later completed it will still receive 20 hours of management training credit. However, they should be aware that this course may not have provided them with all the knowledge and skills necessary for Class A or B operators to adequately manage a treatment facility. They should consider supplementing their management training with additional material as needed. Questions should be directed to (512) 239-6133.

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What do I need to know about an application?

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Where can I obtain an application?

Applications are available through the TCEQ's Water Operator Licensing Program in the Austin central office or at any TCEQ regional office. The application must be completed in full, signed, dated, and submitted with the appropriate application fee (check or money order only). All fees are non-refundable. 

What do I need to provide with an application?

In addition to the standard information (name, address, social security number), you will need to submit supporting documentation such as:

  • copy of certificate of completion for each correspondence course
  • copy of certificate of completion for unverified training
  • copy of college transcripts used for experience substitution
  • copy of current out-of-state license (if applying for reciprocity)

All statements and qualifications provided by each applicant are subject to verification. 

When do I pay the application fee?

You must pay the application fee when you arrive to take the water operator exam. The application fee is valid for one year or four exams, whichever comes first. 

If I qualify for a higher level of license, must I apply for all lower levels first?

No, it is not necessary to apply for a lower level license if the requirements of a higher level are satisfied. However, to apply for licensing as a Class A Water Operator, you must be pre-approved by our Austin central office program staff before taking the exam. 

What if my application is deficient?

Applicants who are deficient after an initial review by the staff may be asked to submit supplemental information for consideration if the staff determines that the original application did not contain all relevant information. The applicant must submit this information within 120 days of notification of deficiency, or the examination, application and fee will become invalid.

Application fees are not refundable. 

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What do I need to know for an exam?

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What does the exam cover?

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What do I need to study?

Study materials for each type and level of licensing include:

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What are the special considerations for Class A water operator exams?

Class A exams must be scheduled by the applicant through the Austin central office after their application for licensing has been approved. Class A exams are conducted in the Austin central office or at the Exit the TCEQTWUA annual and regional schools.

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Where and when are exams held?

Exams are regularly scheduled and administered in the Austin central office and TCEQ regional offices in accordance with an established exam schedule.

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What is the minimum passing score?

All applicants for licensing, except individuals applying for licensing by reciprocity, must pass the appropriate exam with a minimum score of 70 percent. Within four weeks of the exam, applicants can check their exam results on the web. In six weeks applicants will receive their examination results by mail.

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If I fail, how many times may I retake the test?

You may retake the test a maximum of three times within one year of the original examination date. To retest, you must wait a minimum of 60 days between each examination and you must present your exam analysis to program staff at the exam site as proof of eligibility to retest. After the fourth test in the one year period, you will need to submit a new application and fee.

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How long do I have to retake the test?

You must retake the test within one year of the original examination date before submitting a new application and fee.

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What is acceptable experience?

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Class A Experience

  • must be in public water system operations
    • If you are a college graduate:
      • with a masters degree, all four years must be "hands-on" experience.
      • with a bachelors degree, all five years must be "hands-on" experience.
    • If you are a high school graduate or obtained a GED:
      • at least six years of the eight years required must be "hands-on" experience.
      • two years of experience may be substituted with:
        • additional TCEQ approved water operator training
        • college hours
  • For laboratory experience to be fully acceptable towards operator licensing, the laboratory must be owned and operated by the public water system and the laboratory personnel must consult on a daily basis with a public water system's licensed operator personnel.

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Class B Experience

  • must be in public water system operations
  • must be in the same field as the license (e.g., surface water experience for the surface water field) applied for:
    • If you are a college graduate:
      • all two and one-half years must be "hands-on" experience.
    • If you are a high school graduate or obtained a GED:
      • at least three years of the five years required must be "hands-on" experience.
      • two years of experience may be substituted with:
        • related experience (e.g., groundwater experience for the surface water field)
        • additional TCEQ approved water operator training
        • college hours
  • For laboratory experience to be fully acceptable toward operator licensing, the laboratory must be owned and operated by the public water system and the laboratory personnel must consult on a daily basis with a public water system's licensed operator personnel.

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Class C Experience

  • must be in public water system operations
  • must be in the same field as the license (e.g., surface water experience for the surface water field) applied for:
    • at least one year of the two years required must be "hands-on" experience
    • one year of experience may be substituted with:
      • related experience (e.g., groundwater experience for the surface water field)
      • additional TCEQ approved water operator training
      • college hours
  • For laboratory experience to be fully acceptable toward operator licensing, the laboratory must be owned and operated by the public water system and the laboratory personnel must consult on a daily basis with a public water system's licensed operator personnel.

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What is not considered as acceptable experience?

Experience will not count for:

  • The following support personnel (unless they conduct routine, on-site operational activities for a public water system):
    • secretaries
    • utility relations staff
    • meter readers
    • radio dispatchers
    • bookkeepers
  • Administrative officials (unless they conduct routine, on-site operational activities for a public water system):
    • mayors
    • city managers
    • utility board members

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How will my experience be verified?

You will need to provide references on your application who are involved with routine, on-site operation of a public water system.

The following are NOT ACCEPTABLE references (unless they conduct routine, on-site operational activities for a public water system):

  • secretaries
  • utility relations staff
  • meter readers
  • radio dispatchers
  • bookkeepers
  • mayors
  • city managers
  • utility board members

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If I hold a license in another state, can I transfer it to Texas?

Texas issues licenses of reciprocity on a case-by-case basis with all other states.

To be considered for reciprocity:

  • You must hold a current water operator license
  • Your license must have been obtained by exam
  • The license must be mandatory under the other state's laws
  • The equivalent education, training, experience, and fee requirements for the type and class of Texas license being applied for have been met.

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How do I renew my license?

You will be mailed a renewal notification to the last known address on file at least 60 days before your license expires. Provided we have your email address, you will also received a email notification 90 days before your license expires. This notification will give you instructions for renewing your license using the Texas Online license renewal process.

If you are unable to renew on-line, please contact our office immediately to receive a printed renewal application. You can contact the TCEQ Licensing Section at licenses@tceq.texas.gov or by phone at (512) 239-6133. Please be sure to include your full name and license number with your request. Remember, it is your responsibility to timely submit a renewal application.

Credit is given for attendance at TCEQ approved training courses, correspondence courses, seminars, and association meetings on the basis of one credit hour per hour of attendance. You must have completed the appropriate number of continuing education training credit hours (10 hours for each year the license has been in effect) during the life of the license. A & B water operators may complete a self-attestation form as verification they completed the continuing education requirement for renewal of their license.

To check how many credit hours you currently have on file, click here.

To renew this license class ...You must obtain this much continuing education ...You must pay a renewal fee of ...The license will remain valid for an additional ...
A 30 Hours* $111 3 Years
B 30 Hours* $111 3 Years
C 30 Hours $111 3 Years
D** 30 Hours $111 3 Years
* Class A or B operators may not use the "Basic Water" course for renewal credit hours.

** Class D Water Operator Licenses are not renewable for surface water treatment plant operators, operators of groundwater production facilities under the influence of surface water, operators of groundwater production facilities with 250 or more connections or more than 750 population, operators working as supervisors in a distribution system with 250 or more connections, or for individuals who operate multiple systems where the total number of connections for all systems combined is 250 or more.

Renewal applications are mailed to the operator's address on file. The TCEQ is not responsible for undelivered mail.

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What are some of my responsibilities to the TCEQ?

The operator is responsible for:

  • Notifying the Austin central office of any address changes;
  • Maintaining personal training records, including:
    • Name of training course
    • Location of training course
    • Name of training provider and
    • Date of training course 

I lost my license or pocket card. How do I replace it?

To replace your lost license, you can download the request form or contact the licensing section at (512) 239-6133 to have the form faxed, emailed or mailed. The replacement license is $20.00. You must mail in the completed form with your payment (check or money order made payable to TCEQ). Payments cannot be taken over the phone.

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