OERM/Water and Wastewater Utilities

Water and Wastewater Utilities

Water and Wastewater Utilities is a core competency of the Office of Environmental Resource Management (OERM). The Utilities Program is assisting USET member Tribal Nations with their priorities to provide clean, safe, and adequate water to their communities; and sustainable wastewater treatment. We provide technical assistance and training to assist Tribal Utilities with building their workforce capacity, compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, and support of infrastructure development through Capital Improvement Plans.

EPA Releases New Tools for the 3Ts Toolkit

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced the release of three new tools for the 3Ts toolkit on Reducing Lead Levels in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities.

Technical Assistance and Training Services

  • Onsite and Virtual peer reviews for USET member Tribal Nations
  • USET Operator and Laboratory Analyst Certification
  • Capital Improvement Plans (CIP) assistance
  • Infrastructure and Funding Plans assistance
  • Integration of EPA Incident Action Plans in Emergency Response Plans
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) training and technical assistance in developing specific SOP’s for operations, regulatory report submittals, maintenance, lab methods, etc.
  • Launch utility careers through a high performance and employability skill building course – USET supports taking CSMlearn
  • Site visits to assist with asset management, process optimization, safety systems, capital improvement plans, infrastructure funding mechanisms, and system upgrades

Tribal Utility Certification Courses

These courses are available at no cost to USET Tribal Nation Water and Wastewater Operators and Lab Analysts. The courses include highly successful instructors in helping individuals achieve certification success. The courses include books, calculators, and testing fee payment. The courses also includes test taking strategies and practice tests! Plan on earning 45 – 68 CEUs!

Upcoming courses will run from January to April 2022. Course wrap up and online testing will occur at the annual Tribal Utility Summit slated for spring 2022. Registration will open in October 2021! Plan to advance your career by becoming certified!

If you have a suggestion about which certification course you would like USET to offer starting in January 2022 and finishing at the Tribal Utility Summit, please contact Michael Purvis, USET OERM Technical Assistance Specialist, at mpurvis@usetinc.org.

USET Operator and Laboratory Analyst Certification

The USET Certification Board promotes and ensures a standard of excellence of performance and compliance among those individuals employed by a federally recognized Tribal Nation, who meet the established standards, set forth by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, Federal Clean Water Act, and the EPA Tribal Drinking Water Operator Certification Program.

USET Certification Board Bylaws
EPA Approval Letter for USET Tribal Drinking Certification Program

  • Lillie Williamson, Jena Band of Choctaw Indians – Chairperson and Natural Resources Committee Member
  • Juan Mata, Seminole Tribe of Florida – Vice-Chairperson and Drinking Water Operator
  • Dave Drobiak, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation – Treasurer and Assistant Director, Public Utilities
  • Michael Bolt, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians – Laboratory Analyst – Immediate Past Chair
  • John Williford, Catawba Indian Nation – Water and Sewer Supervisor
  • Calvin Murphy, First Nations Environmental Services, Tribal Member Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians – Consultant
  • Chief William Harris, Catawba Indian Nation – USET SPF Board Member

The USET Certification Program for Water and Wastewater Plant Treatment Operators and Laboratory Analysts was approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2012 for operators of water and wastewater treatment plants. USET Certification Board upholds Tribal sovereignty through its ability to certify operators of Tribal facilities and is an affiliate of the Association of Boards of Certification.

USET Water Certifications:

  • Public Water Supply System Operator: Class VSWS I, II, III, IV
  • Water Distribution System Operator; Class I, II, III, or IV
  • Wastewater Treatment System Operator: Class I, II, III, or IV
  • Wastewater Collection System Operator; Class I, II, III, or IV
  • Water Laboratory Analyst: Class I, II, III, or IV
  • Wastewater Laboratory Analyst: Class I, II, III, IV
  • Operator-In-Training Journeyperson
  • Operator-In-Training Apprentice

Download the application

Completed applications, Letter of Employment, and Fee should be mailed to:
United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. (USET)
711 Stewarts Ferry Pike, Suite 100
Nashville, TN 37214
Attn: Jennifer Bennett

For questions, please email Jennifer Bennett, USET OERM Administrative Assistant II, at jbennett@usetinc.org.

Tribal Utility Summit (TUS)

Returning in 2022, the Tribal Utility Summit is comprised of Certification training for Tribal Operators in Drinking Water, Wastewater, and Laboratory Analysts. Contact hours (CEU’s) are provided in various topics to allow Tribal Operators to meet their CEU requirement for their respective Operators Certification/License.

Tribal Utility Finance Forum (TUFF)

OERM and our partners held the first TUFF in September 2019. Leaders from the Tribal utility and energy space openly discussed a variety of power and utility topics using real-world Tribal examples. Topics included asset management, utility infrastructure, alternative financing, and how to develop successful business models. In breakout groups, attendees participated in intimate conversations and brainstorming discussions on these topics as well.

Water and Wastewater Regulatory Compliance Corner

The Water and Wastewater Regulatory Compliance Corner provides analyses and details about changes to national drinking water standards and regulations, and national regulatory standards for wastewater discharged to surface waters and sewage treatment plants. These technical analyses are intended for Tribal water and wastewater utility professionals, and do not necessarily reflect USET/USET SPF policy positions about national environmental laws; EPA regulations, rules, and guidance documents; EPA trust and treaty obligations; and EPA strategy for implementing federal environmental programs in the USET region.

Ground Water Rule (Published June 3, 2021)
Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (Published June 9, 2021)
Proposed 2020 Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (Published June 23, 2021)

Introduction to Arsenic and Clarifications to Compliance and New Source Monitoring (Published June 30, 2021)
Consumer Confidence Report Rule (Published July 14, 2021)
Revised Total Coliform Rule (Published July 21, 2021)
Nitrate and Nitrite Federal Regulations (Published August 23, 2021)