Environmental Compliance Inspectors
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 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.
Sample ECI exam topics
These are a few basic examples of the competencies necessary to become certified:
- Inspect industrial and commercial pretreatment facilities for compliance
- Use sampling equipment, meters, related test apparatus, and other tools
- Inspect pretreatment devices such as grease traps, interceptors, clarifiers, and silver recovery units
- Complete appropriate documentation, including inspection reports and chain of custody documentation
- Observe proper safety procedures, rules, regulations, and practices, including use of personal protective equipment
- Observe and record field conditions such as effluent, flow meter readings, pH, ORP, selective ion, atmospheric gas monitoring levels, and other field test results
- And more
For a more detailed exam blue print and outline, click on the "Prepare" tab.
ECI grade levels
Four grade levels and typical career ladder:
- Grade 1 Entry Level
- Grade 2 Inspector
- Grade 3 Lead Inspector
- Grade 4 Manager
CWEA offers voluntary certifications for water professionals.
The State Water Board's program is a mandatory certification for Drinking water treatment, distribution and wastewater operators. In order to work as an operator you must pass the State's exam.
Many California water agencies use CWEA's certifications of professional competence as part of their hiring and promotional process. Some agencies require this certification for employment. Some agencies also provide a pay bump for achieving CWEA certifications and pursuing higher grade levels. Be sure to ask your employer.
CWEA's mission is to increase the effectiveness of water professionals through certification, education and advocating for the profession.
Dorien McElroy, Irvine Ranch Water District
“Wastewater is not a glamorous field, but there’s always going to be a need. We have a growing population and a finite water supply."
Certification held: CSM 4, ECI 1, Lab 1
Robert Wilson, City of Petaluma
“I enjoy reaching out to the public and fostering changes in behavior—especially regarding emerging contaminates, improper disposal of wipes, and pharmaceutical products.”
Certification held: ECI 2, Lab 2
Shannon Simmers, City of Redlands
“Working with industries requires restraint and creative thinking. I want to give my industries the tools they need to make their facility better, to save money and protect water by implementing best practices and achieving compliance."
Certification held: ECI 2
Theodore Higgins, City of Los Angeles, LA Santiation
“We play a very significant role and are in alignment with our Mayor’s goals of becoming one of the most sustainable, green cities in the world. I am thankful to have the opportunity to work in a great environment with talented people."
Certification held: ECI 2