Two bills were recently signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder that will change the way the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) accumulates funds for its Operator Training and Certification Program.
Senate Bills (SBs) 447 and 448 allow the DEQ to now collect fees for the program services that are offered by the Operator Training and Certification Unit, which administers programs for the training and certification of operators of municipal and industrial wastewater and drinking water treatment facilities. The unit also offers training on treatment process control and laboratory analysis, as well as technical assistance.
Under SB 447, the DEQ is permitted to conduct a training and certification program for drinking water treatment and distribution facility operators. The fees collected under this program will go into the Operator Training and Certification Fund, which was created with the passage of SB 448.
Also under the provisions of SB 448, the DEQ will be conducting a program for persons or organizations offering approved continuing education courses (CECs) for certified operators and supervisors. These courses are needed for certification renewals.
Those affected by the fees include industrial wastewater operators; storm water construction operators; storm water industrial and municipal wastewater operators; drinking water operators; and continuing education credit providers.
The fees include charging an application fee of $75 for CECs and $50 for a course renewal application. Operators are also going to have to pay an exam fee. These exams only need to be taken once by facility operators during their career to prove their proficiency in a specific area of expertise. The fees for exams range from $30 to $70.
A certification renewal fee of $95 is also a part of the new fee structure. In order to be recertified, the applicant must submit a renewal application, as well as proof that they have completed the necessary continuing education credits for their field. Certification renewals for drinking water and municipal wastewater operators occurs every three years, while industrial wastewater and storm waters operator recertifications occur on a five-year cycle.
Both bills allow for the fees to be collected until Oct. 1, 2017.
The revenue generated by these fees is estimated to be approximately $354,000. Previously, the program had been funded through the General Fund/General Purpose as well as with funds from the Water Resources Division within the DEQ. However, due to budget restrictions, those funds were no longer available. The revenue provided by these fees will allow the program to continue.