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Phase III Contact Hour Information

Good News!

If you are currently working on the Phase III self-assessment in the treatment program, you may be eligible for 20 contact hours upon receiving a Phase III Director'saward. Please read through the frequently asked questions for additional information (below). If you have additional questions, please contactNancy Dingerat PA-AWWA for more information.


Schuylkill County Municipal Authority (SCMA).

SCMA staff taking the Phase III contact hour test. 20 contact hours were awarded to each individual who participated in the Phase III self-assessment process and successfully passed the exam.

Phase III Contact Hours - Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who approved this course for contact hours?

On April 3, 2003, this course was approved by the PA Department of Environmental Protection, under the Pennsylvania water and wastewater operator training program. This course will count for 20 contact hours toward Pennsylvania pre-certification experience and continuing education requirements.

2. Who will administer this course?

The PA Section of the American Water Works Association (PA-AWWA) is the approved training sponsor for this course. PA-AWWA will register participants, administer tests, and provide contact hour certificates to those who are eligible. For more information, please contactNancy Dinger at 717-774-8870.

3. Who is eligible to sign up for the 20 contact hours?

All filter plant staff (e.g., operators, supervisors, management), which actively participated in the Phase III Self-Assessment Process. Active participation should be focused on optimizing filter plant operations and may include - providing constructive input, performing special studies or investigations, compiling data, interpreting data, developing or implementing action plans.

4. What must occur for an eligible individual to receive the 20 contact hours?

All of the following must occur for an individual to receive contact hours -

  • The individual must register PRIOR to the utility receiving the Phase III Directors Award;
  • The individual must actively participate in the Phase III Self-Assessment Process as described in #3 above;
  • The utility must submit a Phase III report, including the names of individuals who actively participated in the self-assessment process;
  • This report must be peer reviewed and approved by the national Program Effectiveness Assessment Committee (PEAC); and
  • Finally, the individual must pass the test administered by PA-AWWA.

5. Can you tell me more about the test - how do I study for it?

The test was designed at the National Partnership level to measure an individual's understanding and commitment to optimized filter plant operation and the PfSW program. This test will be administered and graded by PA-AWWA. It is comprised of 10 multiple-choice questions. If you have reviewed the materials provided by the PfSW and actively participated in the Phase III self-assessment process, you should be familiar with the test questions. Prior to taking the test, it would be a good idea to review the "Self-Assessment Guide for Surface Water Treatment Plant Optimization".

6. What happens if I fail the test?

If your test score is less than 70% (i.e. you do not get at least 7 questions correct), you will not be eligible to receive the 20 contact hours. Retesting is not allowed.

7. What if my consultant writes the Phase III Self-Assessment report -- will I still receive the contact hours?

All registered individuals who actively participated in the Phase III Self-Assessment process are eligible to receive the contact hours. Please see question #4 for further explanation of active participation. Individuals who did not write the report can receive contact hours if they fulfill all the requirements listed under question #4.

8. What is the deadline for completing Phase III?

Phase III of the Partnership treatmentprogram is self-paced. There is no hard and fast deadline for completion of this self-assessment phase. However, systems must remain active by submitting annual report information and identifying performance limiting factors. In Pennsylvania, water systems that have completed Phase III have reported that it takes about three years to work through a self-assessment and write the final report.

9. If our water system completed Phase III before April 2, 2003 (the date when DEP approved the course), can I still get credit for contact hours?

No. Section 303.407 of the proposed Operator Certification regulations stipulates that - "A certified operator shall not be issued a certification renewal unless the operator can demonstrate the continuing education contact hour requirement was met within their designated three (3) year cycle for continuing education." Therefore, credit for courses, such as the PfSW, taken prior to the start date of the 3-year renewal cycle cannot be applied to fulfill continuing education requirements.

10. Will I get contact hours each year my utility remains in the Partnership and meets optimization goals?

No. The contact hours are only awarded for active participation in the Phase III self-assessment process. This process is very similar to a correspondence or distance education course in structure. Participants work through materials provided and ultimately produce a report, which is then scored by the PEAC to determine if the utility has gained valuable operational knowledge from their efforts. If the report passes, eligible individuals can receive the contact hours. While credits cannot be awarded for remaining in the program, it is important to note that continually meeting optimization goals can reduce the risk of a waterborne disease outbreak - which is the main objective of the Partnership. Continuing education contact hours for completing Phase III is just an added benefit of the program.

11. Can contact hours carry over to my next licensing period if I already have enough hours for this period?

No. According to proposed Operator Certification legislation, "a certified operator is not credited with any excess continuing education contact hours obtained in a three year renewal cycle for the purpose of applying those excess contact hours to a subsequent three year renewal cycle"

12. Will I get contact hours for reaching Phase IV of the treatment program?

Yes, you may be eligible. For more information click here.


Operators learn about the operation of their own filter plant rather than studying about other plants or theory using a textbook . Therefore, the contact hours for achieving Phase III have practical, everyday value.

Operators do not need to travel away from work -- they can learn on the job.

Very low cost compared to most training programs.