News Release 268

Department of Natural Resources provides financial assistance to public water supplies for drinking water operator training

Volume 38-268 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Larry Archer
573-751-3807

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, MAY 3, 2010 – The responsibility for providing Missourians with a safe, reliable supply of drinking water falls upon a trained, certified corps of drinking water plant operators.

In recognition of Drinking Water Week, May 2-8, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources salutes those drinking water plant operators who work daily to make sure their communities’ taps provide the highest quality, most economical water available.

To aid plant operators, the department provides grant funding for operator certification training to ensure operators are properly trained and certified to perform this important task.

The department’s Public Drinking Water Branch oversees all Missouri public water supplies. Each water system is responsible for monitoring conditions at individual water plants. Systems that serve communities – or otherwise serve the same population year round – and systems that serve the same population for a significant portion of the year, such as schools and industries with a large employee bases, must be under the responsible charge of a certified operator.

The Department of Natural Resources offers grant funds to train and certify individuals operating these types of drinking water systems serving 3,300 people or fewer. Nearly 1,500 public water systems in Missouri qualify for a portion of these grant funds. This represents more than 80 percent of all public water systems in the state. The department uses a voucher system to allocate grant funds to eligible drinking water systems.

The department started with more than $3.1 million in available federal funds for the voucher system. To date, more than $495,000 remains unused by the water systems. The department encourages drinking water systems to take advantage of these cost savings and training opportunities before they expire Dec. 31.  Communities can also take advantage of the funds to train and certify a backup operator.

In addition to the amount already issued, drinking water systems may request additional funds for attendance to multi-day drinking water certification courses.  Additional voucher funds will be issued, based on availability, to drinking water systems to further assist them in their certification needs.

Each participating system receives vouchers their employees can use toward the costs of obtaining and retaining drinking water operator certification. Vouchers can be used as payment for approved drinking water treatment and distribution training, examinations, operator certification and renewal certification for drinking water and distribution certificates.

For more information, contact Darlene Helmig with the department's Public Drinking Water Branch at 800-361-4827 or 573-522-6103. For more information on the voucher program or to find available operator certification training dates and locations, visit the department's website at dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/opcert/oprtrain.htm.

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