Contract Operator Agreement Draft

Water Protection Program fact sheet
Division of Environmental Quality Director: Ed Galbraith

Finding the Right Certified Operator for a Drinking Water System

Certified operators, also called Water Specialists or Professional Operators, possess the knowledge and experience necessary to operate drinking water systems. Their actions are important to the protection of public health and the environment. They are responsible for making day-to-day operational decisions that affect the quality and quantity of drinking water for the customers of public water systems. This document outlines a list of general topics for administrators and operators to discuss in order to build a basic understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities. The document concludes with an example of a contract operator agreement. Contracts can be in other formats, but the sample includes the minimum information necessary to meet state regulation 10 CSR 60-14.010(4)(F).

The Department of Natural Resources provides additional information and resources online on the Missouri operator certification webpage. You can select certain counties and search for certified operators in those areas, verify what level of certified operator is required for a particular water system, and more.

PART I – Considerations When Hiring a Certified Operator

Water system owners are responsible for complying with regulations and obtaining the services of a properly certified operator, regardless of whether the certified operator is a full time employee, under contract, or a volunteer. It is important to make sure that the operator hired is a good match for the public water system, and that they have the knowledge and ability to provide customers with safe drinking water. Here are some suggestions to help facilitate conversations.

What a system should consider before hiring an operator

Questions to ask a potential operator

Things to do before signing a contract

In addition to requiring a certified chief operator, the regulations also require owners of public drinking water systems to also have a contingency plan for a standby replacement chief operator to be available at all times. This may be, for example, a second employee certified at the chief operator level, a mutual assistance agreement with a neighboring system, or a pre-arrangement with a contract operator. The backup plan can be brief, but must include sufficient detail to demonstrate that there is a reasonable plan in place to prevent situations where there would not be a properly certified operator in responsible charge of the system. 

PART II – How to Notify the Department of a Change in Operator

Missouri state regulation 10 CSR 60-14.010(4) requires that system owners shall notify the Department in writing within 15 calendar days after the chief operator is replaced. System representatives can update contact information online at or by visiting to print, and mail or fax corrections.  

PART III –Contract Operations

For those water systems that decide to hire a contract operator, a written agreement is required that indicates the responsibilities of the operator. Agreements must include the following minimum information required under 10 CSR 14.010(4)(F).

Public drinking water systems vary widely in their size, complexity, and operational needs. As a result, the regulations do not set detailed minimums for the items listed above. This provides flexibility for each system to tailor their own agreement. The sample contract provided includes language related to each of the required elements. It includes a list of routine operational duties, but is not all-inclusive. Owners and operators can modify the agreement but the agreement includes details related to the each of the elements listed above.

Contract Operator Agreement Template – modify as needed

Agreements must include minimum information required under 10 CSR 14.010(4)(F).

Public Water System Name

System Classification

          Water Treatment   A  B  C  D

          Water Distribution 3  2  1

System ID


System Address





Local Contact Name

Local Contact’s Daytime Phone Number

Local Contact’s Emergency Phone Number

Email Address

Operator Name

Certificate Type(s) and Level(s)

          Water Treatment   A  B  C  D

          Water Distribution 3  2  1

Certificate Number

Expiration Date

Operator Address





Daytime Phone Number

Emergency Phone Number

Email Address

The certified chief operator (Operator), will operate the Public Water System (System) and be responsible for all operational decisions that affect quality and quantity of water delivered to customers. The Operator will maintain operator certification(s) that meets the minimum requirements for the System, and notify the System in the event such certification expires or is suspended or revoked. The Operator shall be the chief operator for only one surface water treatment facility, unless otherwise approved by the Department in writing.

The Operator shall be present at the System a minimum of _________ (Number) times per ________ (month, week, or day) for a duration of __________ (Number) hours each visit. The Operator’s duties and responsibilities will include, but not be limited to:

Effective Date of Contract

Signature of System Representative


Signature of Operator