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Small Water System Certification

Notice Concerning Exams:

Due to the COVI-19 pandemic only the following testing centers are open but only in a limited capacity and following social distancing and health protocols:
  • Anchorage
  • Bethel
  • Fairbanks
  • Kenai
  • Ketchikan
  • Kodiak
  • Palmer

Definition of Small Water Systems

Small water systems are defined by State of Alaska regulations as systems that regularly serve 25-500 people and have fewer than 100 service connections. Systems that serve at least 25 different people per day for at least 60 days of the year and that have a groundwater source are not required to have a certified operator. Small water systems are further classified according to their treatment methods:

Small Untreated
No chemicals added to the water.
May have passive forms of treatment, e.g. softening, cartridge filters, etc.
Small Treated
One chemical added to the water.
May have passive forms of treatment, e.g. softening, cartridge filters, etc.

Systems that add more than one chemical, have membrane filters, or use chemically aided filtration will be classified at a higher level based on a point rating system. For additional detailed information concerning water system classification (PDF).

If you are not sure how your system is classified, please contact us or search for your system by name on our System Classification Database.

Eligibility for Certification:

To become a State of Alaska certified small system operator you must meet the eligibility requirements and pass the certification exam. The eligibility requirements are as follows:

Small Untreated Water System Certification

  1. High school diploma or GED and
  2. Three months of experience operating a small untreated or higher water system, or completion of the ADEC Small Untreated Water Systems Correspondence Course

Small Treated Water System Certification

  1. High school diploma or GED and
  2. Six months of experience operating a small treated or higher water system, or completion of the ADEC Small Treated Water Systems Correspondence Course

Taking the certification exam:

Follow these steps to take a small system certification exam. You may take an exam even if you have not met the eligibility requirements.

1. Fill out the one-page small system exam registration form (PDF)

  • On the form, select a location to take the exam.
  • For operators living in or near Anchorage, Fairbanks, Dillingham, Glennallen, Homer, Palmer, Kodiak, Ketchikan or Kenai, you will take the exam at the online testing center in your area. Make sure to include an e-mail address on your registration form so that we can send you exam scheduling information. Exams can be taken at the online testing centers throughout the year and there are no application deadlines. However, if you have access to an online testing center but would rather take the exam in a paper and pencil format, we will only offer written exams two times per year. Please see the dates and registration deadlines for written exams.
  • For operators who don't have an online testing center available in your area, DEC will arrange a proctor in your community to administer the exam to you in a paper and pencil format at any time of the year. There are no set exam dates or application deadlines.

2. Send your registration form to the Operator Certification Program and include the $150 exam registration fee.

  • Checks should be made out to State of Alaska.
  • The fee can also be paid online: Fee Payment Page. If you pay the fee online, you can submit your registration via e-mail or fax.
  • If you have taken one of the UAS Small System courses, please include a copy of your course completion certificate with your registration.
  • If you are taking the exam at one of the online testing centers, you will also pay an exam fee to the testing center when you go in to take the exam. The fee will be: no fee at this time in Bethel, $30 in Dillingham, Glennallen, and Homer, $43 in Anchorage and Palmer, and $50 in Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak, and Fairbanks.

3. Schedule your exam

  • Once the Operator Certification program receives your registration, we will e-mail you with details about how to contact the testing center in your area and schedule a time to take your exam.
  • You must take the exam within 100 days of your approval date.
  • If you live in a community with no access to a testing center, we will send you information in the mail about how to contact the proctor in your community and schedule a time with them to take your exam.

4. Study for the exam

  • More information about the exams, including study materials, can be found below.

5. Take the exam and get your results

  • If you take the exam at a testing center you will see your score immediately. A score of 70 or higher is passing.
  • If you take the exam in a paper and pencil format, the exam proctor will mail the exam back to us for grading. You will receive your results within 2-4 weeks.
  • If you fail the exam and wish to re-test, you must pay another $150 registration fee. You do not need to resubmit a full application.

6. Get Certified

  • If you pass the exam and have already met the eligibility requirements, you will receive your certificate in the mail in 1-3 weeks.
  • If you pass and have not met the eligibility requirements, we will hold your exam results for three years. We will issue you a certificate when you submit documentation of having met the requirements.

Exam Information

Study Materials

The following materials will help you prepare for the certification exam:

Note: All the exam study materials below refer to Class A and Class B water systems. Due to a change in the Drinking Water regulations, Class A water systems are now called either Community Water Systems (CWS) or Non-Transient Non-Community Water Systems (NTNCWS). Class B water systems are now called Transient Non-Community Water Systems (TNCWS). The CWS, NTNCWS, and TNCWS nomenclatures are used on the small water system certification exams.

Small System Manuals (PDFs):

Small System Study Modules (compatible with most PCs):

ADEC Small System Correspondence Courses:

  • These are the courses you must take if you have not met the experience requirements for small system certification. The Small Untreated and Small Treated water system manuals listed above are the texts used in these courses. Courses include end-of-chapter quizzes that will help you review the material.
  • More information about the ADEC Small Water Systems Correspondence Courses

For more information, please contact:

  • Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
  • Operator Training and Certification Program
  • P.O. Box 111800
  • Juneau, AK 99811-1800
  • Phone Number: 907-465-1139
  • Fax Number: 907-465-5177
  • Email Address:

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