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Phase IV Contact Hours

Good News!

If you are currently working on Phase IV of the Partnership for Safe Water Treatment Program, you may be eligible for 35 contact hours upon receiving a Phase IV Excellence in Water Treatment award. Please read through the frequently asked questions for additional information (below). If you have additional questions, please contact Nancy Dinger at PA-AWWANew Phase IV Guidelines for more information.

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Carlisle Borough Municipal Authority

Carlisle Borough was the first water plant in PA to reach Phase IV.

Phase IV Contact Hours - Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who approved this course for contact hours?

OnJune 17, 2010, 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 35 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 contact Nancy Dinger at 717-774-8870.

3. Who is eligible to sign up for the 35 contact hours?

All filter plant staff (e.g., operators, supervisors, management), which actively participated in the Phase IV 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 35 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 IV "Excellence in Water Treatment" award;
  • The individual must actively participate in the Phase IV Process as described in #3 above;
  • The utility must submit a Phase IV report, including the names of individuals who actively participated in the 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 IV assessment process, you should be familiar with the test questions. Prior to taking the test, it would be a good idea to review the " Phase IV Guidelines (PDF)".

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 35 contact hours. Retesting is not allowed.

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

All registered individuals who actively participated in the Phase IV assessment process are eligible to receive the contact hours. Please see question #3 for further explanation of active participation. Individuals who did not write the report can still receive contact hours if they fulfill all the requirements listed under question #4.

8. What is the deadline for completing Phase IV?

Phase IV of the Partnership program is optional and includes a rigorous assessment to determine conformance with Partnership performance goals. There is no hard and fast deadline for completion of this phase. However, systems must remain active by submitting annual report information and identifying performance limiting factors.

9. 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 IV 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 IV is just an added benefit of the program.

10. 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"


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 IV 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.

Satisfaction in aknowing only a handful of water plants across the country have been able to reach this Phase of the Partnership.