Tribal Water and Wastewater Training Programs offered:

Tribal Voluntary Drinking Water and Wastewater Operator Certification Training and Testing Program

The Native American Water Association has developed this Tribal Operator Certification program out of it’s commitment to insure competency among all operators who have the responsibility of providing safe drinking water supplies and sanitary facilities to those living in Indian Country. Through this commitment the Native American Water Association (NAWA) in partnership with the Association of Boards of Certification (ABC), is pleased to offer a measured and proven certification program for both operators of water and wastewater facilities nation-wide.
The NAWA is a Regular Member of ABC and utilizes the testing service that their organization provides. It is our hope that your operators will apply and take their Certification tests or upgrade their current status and test for their next levels.

This Tribal Operator Certification program is voluntary and should be used as a tool for operators to measure their success in the water and wastewater industry, also achieving a professional status we strive for among peers, public and other professionals. The following are the classes of certification offered:

  • Very Small Water Systems – Joint Certification – Treatment and Distribution
  • Water Treatment, Class 1-4
  • Water Distribution, Class 1-4
  • Water Laboratory 1-2
  • Wastewater Treatment, Class 1-4
  • Wastewater Collection, Class 1-4
  • Wastewater Laboratory, Class 1-4

For more information regarding registering and applying to take the Native American Water Association Water and Wastewater Operator Certification exams, contact Tom Crawford, Native American Water Association, Voluntary Certification Program.

Tel: 775-782-6636 office

Fax: 775-782-1021 fax Email:

Tribal Water and Wastewater System Managers and Operators Apprentice Program


Water and wastewater utility operators, managers, board and committee members as well as tribal utility support staff receive most of their training from classroom seminars which utilize only lecture-type instructional techniques. On-the-job training programs provide a real opportunity to apply and implement classroom knowledge. Allowing the trainee to practice tasks and procedures, building skill upon skill.The Tribal Operator and Manager Apprentice Programs are designed to allow trainees to learn and practice their job tasks in a real life environment. Competencies are defined at the beginning of the program and demonstrated activity-by-activity. This unique combination of classroom, field and hands-on training provides a broad-based knowledge of managing and operating tribal water and wastewater utilities in a short time frame.

Tribal Drinking Water and Wastewater Utility Needs

Managers, Utility Boards, Operators and support staff of small tribal water/wastewater systems are typically offered limited access to classroom and hands-on training. Many must learn as they go. Small Tribal PWSS administrators cite these factors:

  • Emergency response provisions in the overall tribal utility management structure is typically nil. Personnel need to be crossed trained, but are not.
  • Finding and retaining trained community college graduates of 2-4 year technology curriculums is at best, difficult. Graduates seek and or offered higher paid positions with industrial or larger city systems.

Tribal water/wastewater system administrators face these and further complications:

  • Overall tribal community knowledge of the water utilities is limited by decreased levels of participation in the design and construction of such systems.
  • Tribal utility managers and operators are often appointed through cultural protocols that may not accurately match job skills to the properly qualified personnel.

In a nutshell, tribal water system managers and operators are:

  • typically appointed to their positions with little or no background knowledge;
  • offered little, if any OJT training;
  • have limited, if any access to culturally sensitive training programs;
  • are expected to learn the principles of small utility management, public relations, employee relations, water chemistry, well operation, pump maintenance, disaffection, sampling, line repair, SDWA compliance issues by learning as you go.

The Program

The course is broken into two content areas small water/wastewater systems management principles and small water/wastewater systems operations. Field trainers take groups of 5-8 trainees for one 4 day course and provide hands-on training for various aspects of managing and operating, surface water, ground water and wastewater systems. Instructors are responsive to individual needs and repetition to achieve mastery is accommodated. All job training activities consist of the following basic building blocks:

  • Learning activities are designed to demonstrate each task.
  • The managerial and technical knowledge required to perform competently is defined.
  • Use of special tools, equipment, or materials are discussed and demonstrated.
  • Critical attitudes (safety, communications) are integrated at each learning step.

The tailored agenda’s are based on years of tribal needs assessments experience with over 100 small tribal water and wastewater systems. Topics include, at a minimum:

  • Management of Utilities training courses
  • Management Concepts
  • Leadership Styles and abilities
  • Responsibilities of a Manager
  • Discipline
  • Functions
  • How to Plan and Organize
  • Authority
  • Needs for Formal Organization Structures
  • Delegation
  • Concepts of Motivational Management
  • Managers Role in Employee Relations
  • Communications
  • Training
  • Record-keeping

Operation and Maintenance training courses

  • Chemical analysis
  • Sampling procedures
  • Disinfection procedures Field testing
  • Mixing chemical solutions
  • Chemical feed pumps
  • Valve installation
  • Line flushing
  • Use of VOM meters
  • Pump maintenance
  • Leak detection
  • Meter/gauge reading
  • Motor control panels
  • Chlorinator maintenance
  • Confined space entry
  • Data collection
  • Pipeline repairs
  • Process control tests
  • Reading and using as-builts
  • Well drawdown tests


Reading and understanding schematics

Tribal Candidate Selection

Participants will be solicited and screened by the Native American Water Association and the participating Tribal Utilities. An application form can be created to assess particular system and individual skill needs. Ideally, scheduling will group candidates to reflect need similarity.


The tribal program responsibility is simple. Tribes must make arrangements for their operators per-diem, for meals and lodging and for getting their trainees to the training site.

Maps and general logistics will be provided to each trainee approximately 2 weeks before their scheduled training session. Trainees are hosted by the Native American Water Association while attending the session. All local transportation arrangements will be made by Native American Water Association for each attendee. The phone numbers of Native American Water Association trainers allow 24 hour assistance as needed.


A brief summary of trainee strengths, weaknesses and further training recommendations are provided for each participant. Each candidate will receive a certificate of completion and CEU’s which may be used to maintain or further certification efforts. Each participant will fill out a program evaluation form at the completion.

Summary of Tribal Water and Wastewater Operator Apprentice Training Program

  • The Tribal Utility Management and Operator Apprentice Program are designed to meet the needs of water and wastewater managers, operators and support staffs based on surveys and on-site work and consultation with more than 100 tribal utilities nation-wide.
  • The program is relevant and accessible to tribal systems on a national basis.
  • It fills a serious skill development need that is either inaccessible or not adequately provided through other programs.
  • Functional systems of similar size and type are used as real-time training centers.
  • Managers and Operators gain confidence in their developed skills and quickly learn to function as a team.
  • Specific site safety and operating procedures are stressed.

Operator and Manager Training Workshops

This training program is designed for Tribal officials, Utility managers, Utility boards/Commissions and Operators. The course is delivered in a two-day presentation format.

The objective of the training shall be to provide participants with continuing knowledge in the operation and maintenance and protection of their community water and wastewater systems. The training provided shall be designed so as to assist the participants with preparing for operator certification and in understanding and meeting their regulatory responsibility under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Course topics include but not limited to the following:

  • Wellhead Protection
  • Operation and maintenance Program Development
  • Preventive maintenance Program Development
  • Updates and overview of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)
  • Cross Connection Control
  • Utility Safety Program
  • Confined Space Entry
  • Emergency Response Plans
  • Sampling Plans

Management Trainer-On-Site Training and Technical Assistance

During visits the trainer shall, but not be limited to:

A. Make contact with designated staff and provide assistance in preparing for or implementing the SDWA.

B. Provide training and recommendations to staff in the development and implementation of internal utility structures.

C. Provide training and recommendation to the staff in the development of utility By-Laws and ordinances.

D. Review record keeping procedures/requirements and documentation necessary for compliance with various rules/regulations.

E. Assist in preparing plans for operators, operation and maintenance, preventive maintenance, program development and in the development of any other educational formats.

Operator Trainer-On-Site Technical Assistance and Training

While visiting the trainer shall but not be limited to:

A. Provide one-on-one training to water operators and staff on the proper operation and maintenance of the water facilities.

B. Provide recommendations and instruction to operators in the effective repairs for the drinking water facilities.

C. Provide Operator Certification program instruction. (Classroom)

D. Perform training exercises with operators on performing tests on automatic control systems, generators, electrical equipment, water treatment systems, water quality monitoring, sampling, other operation and maintenance parameters.

E. Assist operators in the development and implementation of operation and maintenance record keeping and filing systems.

F. Reinforce the importance of the Underground Injection Control programs, ground water and surface water protection programs.

Click here for:

Customized Tribal Water and Wastewater Training to meet your needs!