Every two years, all certified Ohio water operators have a little work to do. And a lot of that work went digital back in 2018 when the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made the move to online renewals exclusively.
Hopefully, you already set up your user profile and all that. But just in case — or if you want a refresher — we’ll walk you through the Ohio water operator certification process, including the contact hour requirement, now that it’s all online.
All water operator certificates are valid for two years and expire every December 31. That doesn’t mean you can wait until the end of the year to renew, though. The state requires you to submit your completed renewal application by November 30 of every year in which your renewal is due.
You should get a renewal notice in the mail, but that deadline applies whether you do or not. To make sure you get that notice, keep your address current in the state’s eBiz system. Here’s a how-to guide if you need to change your address.
Note: the state recently shortened the grace period. If you don’t get your renewal application completed by June 30, you’ll have to retake the applicable certification exam(s).
Before your certification is eligible for renewal, you need to meet the Ohio EPA’s requirement for a specific number of continuing education (CE) hours, which they also call contact hours.
How many hours you need depends on your certificate class:
At least half of your hours need to be directly related to operations and maintenance.
If you have more than one certification, you need CE hours for each — but not the full amount listed above. The EPA reduces your requirement by 25% for each cert.
With more than one certification, you need to get the below number of hours for each certificate you want to renew:
The requirement that half of your hours focus directly on operations and maintenance still applies.
For your hours to count, you need to take them from an EPA-approved source. Fortunately, the state has greenlit some providers to offer water operator continuing education online and on-demand.
When you finish any contact hours, file your certificate of completion away. You’ll need the course ID number to fill out your online renewal application.
There’s now only one acceptable way to submit your water operator renewal to the EPA: online. You’ll need to use their eBusiness Center. Fortunately, the EPA made a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process.
Have your CE certificates of completion handy. If your CE provided didn’t already submit your hours to the state, you’ll have to input them manually.
At the end of that online renewal process, you’ll have the option to either pay your renewal fee online or mail in a check or money order. There’s a small processing fee (just over 2%) if you use a credit card. Ignoring that potential fee, renewal costs:
If you’d prefer to mail a check or money order instead of paying online, click “Download Your Invoice,” print it off, and mail it in with your payment.
Your renewal won’t get approved until the EPA receives your payment and, if applicable, audits your renewal application. Don’t panic. They audit a number of applications each year and it basically means they double-check that your CEs are accurate. Once everything checks out, they’ll email your renewal card to you and update your expiration date.
If you want any more info, you can contact the EPA’s operator certification unit at firstname.lastname@example.org or (866) 411-6728.