Key messages

  • The Victorian framework for water treatment operator competencies: best practice guidelines recognise the important role that water treatment operators have in producing safe drinking water.
  • Water treatment operators need to have appropriate training and skills in the processes they are responsible for.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services is undertaking a review of the competency framework to determine how well it aligns with legislative requirements and contemporary best practice.

The Victorian framework for water treatment operator competencies: best practice guidelines recognise the important role that water treatment operators have in producing safe drinking water.

The guidelines provide a minimum competency framework for people who are directly involved in water treatment activities.

Water treatment operators need to have appropriate training and skills in the processes they are responsible for. They also need to:

  • gain on-the-job experience to develop competence
  • adopt the risk management principles that underpin the operation of water treatment systems
  • update their skills to keep up with advances in water treatment technology. 

The guidelines are a joint initiative of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Victorian Water Industry Association (VicWater) and the Water Industry Operators Association of Australia (WIOA).

The guidelines were released in September 2010, with implementation commencing shortly after. Prior to this framework being developed, there were no minimum competencies or training requirements for operators of water treatment plants in Victoria.

Review of the water treatment operator competency guidelines

The department is reviewing the competency framework to determine how well it aligns with legislative requirements and current best practice. Factors influencing the decision to review the document are:

  • only 10 per cent of Victorian operators are certified (66)
  • a national framework has been developed and implemented
  • commencement of the Safe Drinking Water Regulations 2015.

The review will seek to understand why so few of Victorian water agencies are fully implementing the framework, remove any identified barriers to implementation (where possible), and align the Victorian guidelines with the national framework (as appropriate).

The department will send a survey out to all water suppliers to better understand the barriers to fully implementing the framework, and will consult with Victoria's water industry on any proposed changes.