Competent Operator Scheme

About the Scheme

The Competent Operator Scheme was developed to address a critical need for operational competence in the water sector, ensuring workforce capability towards quality assurance and the safety of drinking water supplies. As a consequence of the competition provision in the Water Act 2003, a framework for the competency standard required for ‘operators’ working within water treatment works was agreed by representatives from the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI), UK Water Companies and Energy & Utility Skills.

In 2017 and 2018, Energy & Utility Skills consulted the UK water industry and its water quality regulators over an 18 month period to redevelop and refresh the Competent Operator Scheme, in co-ordination and co-operation with Water UK and the DWI.

The redeveloped scheme is based on an established Competence Management Approach, enabling a controlled, industry agreed level of competent performance. This requires all companies to adopt a common approach to minimum standards, meaning:

  • Individuals fully understand the performance expected of them to maintain competence over time
  • Increased assurance as an industry through an external quality assurance and governance process

Competent Operator Certificates are issued at company level and not individual level, and will verify the company has robust management systems in place, and meet the agreed thirteen scheme Principles and Requirements, to demonstrate and confirm a competent workforce. It is the responsibility of companies to ensure their operatives reach and maintain the agreed levels of competence.


Energy & Utility Skills is the custodian of the Competent Operator Scheme, with responsibility for developing and providing overall governance. Individual water companies can contact Energy & Utility Skills to commence the approvals process, during which they must demonstrate they meet the Competent Operator Scheme Principles and Requirements.

Certificates will be valid for 5 years, and subject to interim surveillance.

Competent Operator Achievers

Further Reading

Find Out More

For more information on the Competent Operator Scheme approval process and requirements, please read the Scheme Operating Manual and attached Appendixes.

If you have any queries relating to this scheme or EUSR, please contact the EUSR Support team. We are available Monday – Friday, 8.00am – 5.00pm via email or tel: 0121 745 1310.