Are you interested in earlier retirement?

Massachusetts Water Works Association has been advocating for the passage of legislation that would reclassify LICENSED DRINKING WATER OPERATORS from Group 1 to Group 2 for retirement benefits (allowing an operator to retire 5 years earlier). For the bill to advance, the Joint Committee on Public Service needs an actuarial analysis on the financial impact such a classification change would have. MWWA is conducting a survey to collect the needed information directly from operators to send to the Public Employees Retirement Administration Commission so they will be able to proceed with the actuarial analysis. Your cooperation in providing the information is critical for the next step in the legislative process. If you didn't complete the survey from the postcard mailing, you can click here to fill it out.  Retirement reclassification has been expressed as a priority issue for operators, but we need YOUR help to get us the information needed. Without this information, the bill does not stand a chance of advancing.  

Who is Mass Water Works Association?

Massachusetts Water Works Association is a membership organization of water supply professionals. We are not AWWA, we are not NEWWA, we are MWWA - a totally separate and independent organization focused on Massachusetts. Check your membership cards to verify if you are a member of MWWA!

Benefits of Membership Include:

  • A voice for water suppliers at the State House, advocating for issues important to water systems and operators, like retirement reclassification legislation.
  • You will receive a yearly subscription to H2O Pump, MWWA’s newsletter published five times a year, notices of training seminars, and emails keeping you informed of regulatory and legislative issues.
  • Individual members of MWWA are eligible to receive one TCH per year towards Operator Certification renewal.
  • Members have excellent networking opportunities and discounted rates at training seminars.
  • Most importantly, members have an opportunity to shape the future of the water works industry in Massachusetts.

If you are not a member, join TODAY!  Sign up Online Membership Form or fill out the paper form and return it to us.

Here is more information on the legislation:

An Act relative to retirement classification of licensed drinking water operators

ISSUE:  Licensed water operators are trained professionals dedicated to protection of public health and safety by providing a safe and sufficient supply of drinking water to the Commonwealth’s residents and businesses.  Currently, all water personnel are classified as Group 1 for retirement purposes. Drinking water operators are asking that Section 3(g) of Chapter 32 of MGL be amended to move licensed water operators to Group 2 status.

BACKGROUND and KEY POINTS

  • The opportunity for retirement up to five years earlier will: lower overall water system costs by reducing workers’ compensation claims; moderate overtime requirements; and allow for the hiring of lower grade and entry level replacements for this aging and at-risk work force.
  • Licensed water operators are directly involved with assuring public health and safety.
  • During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Water Operators have been classified as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” by the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.   Water operators are absolutely necessary to ensuring that people have access to water for drinking, proper hygiene, and sanitation purposes. 
  • Group I retirement provides for a maximum benefits entitlement at 32 years of service and a minimum age of 65.
  • Group II retirement provides for a maximum benefit entitlement at 32 years of service and a minimum age of 60.
  • Licensing of drinking water operators is governed by State Statute – 236 CMR, sections 2, 3, and 4. These are very rigorous statutes overseen by the Board of Certification of Operators of Drinking Water Facilities under the Division of Professional Licensure.  Licensing requirements by the Board include minimum years of on the job training/experience, education, passage of up to 4 levels of exams in both treatment and distribution and a demanding continuing educational component.
  • There are approximately 3,200 drinking water operators in the Commonwealth who hold approximately 5,700 licenses (2017 data).  Water operators may hold multiple licenses in treatment and distribution. 
  • These licensed operators include operators working in a municipality as well as those employed by private firms.  Licensed water operators represent a very small number of workers in relation to the state workforce. 
  • We are asking that this retirement status change apply to only licensed operators, not any other employee in the Group 1 classification.
  • Due to the inherent high risk, high hazard and the strenuous nature of work, licensed operators have a higher risk of on the job injury:
    • Data compiled from OSHA shows that the fatality rate for excavation work, a core job function, is 112% greater than the rate for general construction.
  • We believe that based on this degree of hazard and frequency of workplace injury, the likelihood of injury and inability to undertake the strenuous nature of water operations activities is compounded once one reaches the age of 60.
  • For most water systems and virtually all smaller and medium-sized systems, certified operators do not have the ability to obtain “desk jobs” for the later years of their employment, furthering the risk of on-the-job injury and workers’ compensation costs.

WHAT WILL THIS LEGISLATION DO: House Bill 2667/Senate Bill 1728 —Sponsors:  Representative Pat Haddad; Senator Anne Gobi would allow eligible water operators to be able to meet maximum eligibility requirements for retirement at age 60 (Group 2) rather than age 65 (Group 1).

Read MWWA's Written Testimony to the Committee:  MWWA Testimony H. 2667 S. 1728 Retirement Reclassification FINAL 11-1-21.pdf

If you have any questions or desire additional information, please contact the following individuals:

  • Justin VanCott, MWWA Operator Committee at 508-494-2455
  • Jennifer Pederson, MWWA Executive Director at 978-263-1388 or [email protected]