Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

Public Water System Supervision Requirements

The Idaho Rules for Public Drinking Water Systems require the owners of all public drinking water systems (except transient systems served by ground water) to have a responsible charge operator and, when the responsible charge operator is not available, to designate a substitute responsible charge operator to replace the responsible charge operator. The operators must be licensed at a type and class equal to or greater than the classification of the system. Responsible charge means active daily on-site or on-call responsibility for the performance of operations or active, on-going, on-site or on-call directions of employees and assistants. The responsible charge operator and substitute responsible charge operator must be two different people. DEQ ensures that PWSs comply with this requirement.

Note: The Idaho Bureau of Occupational Licenses (IBOL) is responsible for ensuring that operators are properly trained and for issuing operator licenses. For information on operator licensure requirements, education and continuing education requirements, and fees, and to apply for an operator license, visit the IBOL website.

System and Operator Licensure Classes

The class of licensed operator required is based on the type and class of the public water system. The table below shows nine different types and classes of drinking water systems and thirteen different types and classes of drinking water operator classes for which licenses are issued.

Drinking Water System Classifications and Correlating Operator Classes


Type of System

Type of System
Treatment Distribution Treatment Distribution

  Operator in Training* X X
Very Small System   X   Very Small System   X
    Restricted Class 1 X X
Class I X X   Class I X X
Class II X X   Class II X X
Class III X X   Class III X X
Class IV X X   Class IV X X

*  An individual may obtain an operator-in-training permit with no prior experience or when beginning to work at any type and class of drinking water system. No one system classification matches this operator class. The purpose of obtaining an operator-in-training permit is to gain supervised on-the-job experience. 

How to Meet the Licensed Operator Requirement

The owners and managers PWSs may choose how to meet the licensed operator requirement. Larger systems are usually operated by an employee of the system. Smaller systems can be operated by a volunteer (either an unpaid association member or an individual served by the system) who agrees to become licensed and provide supervision.

The requirement for licensure can also be met by contracting for this service with a licensed public drinking water operator or with another drinking water system that has licensed operators. In all cases, the contracted operator or contractor employed by the system serves as the responsible charge operator and must be licensed at the grade equal to or greater than the classification of the system.

If the decision is made to contract with a licensed operator, the terms of the contract or agreement should outline the supervision or responsible charge duties assigned to the contract individual, state the specific duties to be performed, and identify situations when the contractor must get prior permission from the system owner for a situation not covered in the contract.

Hiring Recommendations

To assist systems in finding and hiring independent licensed operators, DEQ has prepared a summary of contract issues that should be discussed when interviewing potential contract operator candidates.

Contract Operators for Hire

A number of operators have indicated interest in hiring out their services for contract work at drinking water systems. Search for a contract operator for hire or, if you are a licensed operator interested in contracting out your services, submit your name below.

Staff Contacts

Drinking Water Compliance Supervisor
Brandon Lowder
DEQ Boise Regional Office
1445 N. Orchard St.
Boise, ID 83706
(208) 373-0568

Drinking Water Compliance Supervisor
Anna Moody
DEQ Coeur d'Alene Regional Office
2110 Ironwood Parkway
Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814
(208) 666-4612

Senior Water Quality Engineer
Carlin Feisthamel
DEQ Idaho Falls Regional Office
900 N. Skyline Drive, Suite B
Idaho Falls, ID 83402
(208) 528-2650

Drinking Water Compliance Officer

Drinking Water Compliance Officer
Trina Burgin
DEQ Pocatello Regional Office
444 Hospital Way, #300
Pocatello, ID 83201
(208) 236-6160

Drinking Water Compliance Officer
Aaron Trevino
DEQ Twin Falls Regional Office
650 Addison Avenue West, Suite 110
Twin Falls, ID 83301
(208) 736-2190

Drinking Water Compliance Officer
Justin Walker
1118 F St.
Lewiston, ID 83501
(208) 799-4892

Other Contacts

State Rules

Related Pages

Public Water Systems in Idaho

Public Water System Switchboard

Public Water System Classifications

Drinking Water Operator Resources