An Environmental Compliance Inspector (ECI) inspects industrial, commercial and municipal activities to ensure compliance with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), State Water Board, Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB,) and local regulations and ordinances.
The EPA established and maintains pretreatment regulations for all publicly operated treatment works (POTW) as part of their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits. ECIs work with local commercial and industrial dischargers to ensure the POTW can maintain its treatment levels and meet permit requirements. Environmental Compliance Inspectors are sometimes known as Pretreatment Inspectors.
The primary goal is to identify and prevent current and potential sources of pollution and thus ensure the protection of the public and the environment. This is achieved by conducting inspections, investigations, and, when needed, enforcement activities to ensure proper compliance.
An ECI prepares sampling equipment and completes the chain of custody for sampling events and field tests on industrial and illicit discharges to determine the level of pollutants from a source. An ECI provides education on regulations, stormwater Best Management Practices, and other pollution prevention topics for industrial users, restaurants, the public and other entities.
An ECI may also take part in writing permits, plan check and/or calculating sewer usage fees. An ECI documents industrial user actives as well as maintains files, applicable databases and other computer related forms. An ECI often attends conferences, meetings and training to further increase their knowledge in the water pollution prevention field as well as to represent their agency in various meetings.
An ECI may work for a private company or a public agency with varying job duties. Some employers may require an ECI to have a broad knowledge level while other employers may be more specialized in an area.
Knowledge, Skills and Ability (KSA)
The KSA’s for an ECI will vary from employer to employer. The following is a general idea of what is expected from an ECI when entering the profession.
- Familiarity with local, state and federal laws, codes and regulations related to water quality
- Safety practices and safety regulations
- Industrial wastewater discharge properties and the effects on the environment and public infrastructure
- Chemical characteristics, reactions, hazardous properties and storage and handling requirements
- Basic chemistry and biology as it relates to wastewater and wastewater treatment
- Basic components of chemical management plans, monitoring reports, stormwater pollution prevention plans, and spill containment plans
- Wastewater treatment processes for various industries as well as the municipal wastewater treatment process
- Sample collection, preservation and chain of custody procedures
- Effective interpersonal communication skills as well as negotiation skills
- Collect and interpret information gathered from inspections and investigations
- Read plans and drawings
- Work alone and as a part of a team to accomplish tasks
- Maintain records in an organized and thorough manner
- Modern office procedures, methods and equipment such as computers and software
- Maintain and calibrate samplers, field test equipment and safety equipment
- Flow measuring techniques and theories
- Understand, explain and apply regulations codes and ordinances.
- Provide public outreach
- Handle a diverse set of customer comments and complaints in a polite, professional and diplomatic manner
- Use functional reasoning and rational judgement in applying regulations, codes and ordinances in corrective and enforcement actions
- Possess integrity, self-motivation, task management and be productive in both a supervised and unsupervised work environment
- Perform in a physically demanding environment in a safe manner which includes hot and cold temperatures with the ability to walk distances, climb and lift 50-75 lbs.
education, Certifications, and Licenses:
The following is a guide to what perspective employers may require for employment. Requirements vary from agency to agency.
- Valid CA Driver’s License.
- CWEA Environmental Compliance Inspector Certification grades 1-4. (Grade level required generally depends on the position.)
- CWEA Laboratory Analyst Certification Grade 1-4. (Grade level required generally depends on position.)
- Experience as an Environmental Compliance Inspector and/or Laboratory Analyst or other closely related field.
- High school diploma or equivalent is acceptable for some entry-level ECI positions
- Two years of college in a science-related field with minimum two semesters of chemistry, biology or closely related fields.
- College degree requirements may be replaced with 6-10 years of experience as an Environmental Compliance Inspector dependent on the employer.
- Advanced positions have higher educational requirements
The salary will vary dependent on qualifications, experience, position obtained, location and from agency to agency.
- Entry Level $3,000-$7,500 monthly*
- Senior Level $3,800-$8,500 monthly*
- Supervisor Level $7,500-$9,500 monthly*
*Salary ranges estimated based on information gathered from several California municipal employers.
Source: This career path was developed by CWEA’s P3S Committee (Pretreatment, Pollution Prevention and Stormwater Committee).