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This apprenticeship standard is in development and is not yet ready to use

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Water network operative

Reference Number: ST0898

Details of standard

This apprenticeship standard is currently in development and its contents are subject to change

Occupation summary

This occupation is found in utilities sector, in clean water and waste water industries. Water network operatives typically work in only one of the water operations, although some multi-utility workers may install across the networks. They work for utility owners, operators or contractors, ranging in size from small to large companies

This is a core and options apprenticeship standard. Apprentices will need to complete the core and one option, either clean water or waste water.

The broad purpose of the occupation is to construct, maintain and repair water network infrastructure, to provide a reliable supply/service to domestic, commercial and industrial users. Clean water infrastructure includes mains pipes, water supply pipes, stop taps, fire hydrants and sluice valves for clean water operations; and in waste water operations: drains and sewers, chambers, interceptors, flow control devices and storage tanks. In both occupations the work is both planned - construction and maintenance, and reactive - repairs and emergencies. They ensure the site is safe for work, which may include traffic management and control, complete site excavation and restore the site to a safe condition. They use a range of powered equipment and hand tools, for example diggers.

Depending on the work required, they may spend the day at one site or work across a number of sites. Work locations may include new build sites, public highways or domestic properties. They are required to work in all weather conditions. They may need to work shifts, standby and unsociable hours.

In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with colleagues, such as managers, network technicians and engineers, delivery drivers, reinstatement teams and administration staff. They usually work in a small team - typically with one or two other operatives, responsible for their own work, reporting to managers but not under direct supervision. On a site they may also interact with site agents and other trades. They will communicate with clients/customers regarding work that is being undertaken and in some situations the general public. They may also liaise with personnel from statutory authorities, such as the Highways Authority, local authorities and the Environment Agency. When working in emergency situations, they may liaise with emergency services personnel.

An employee in this occupation will be responsible for completing work to the required standard, following procedures and ensuring Health & Safety and regulatory compliance, for example with the Drinking Water Inspectorate, OFGEM (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) and Environment Agency etc; failure to do so could have serious consequences for self, public health and the environment. Recording and reporting on work completed is an important part of the job, which may include completion of paperwork or computerised records, drawings and providing site photographs. They are expected to present a professional image of the company. They are responsible for ensuring their tools and equipment are fit for use, correctly stored and maintained. Depending on their level of experience, they may be responsible for leading the team.

Water network operatives need to be qualified and on the Street Works Register. Typically, a driving license will be required as they may be expected to drive to their place of work, using a company vehicle. In addition, clean water network operatives must hold a Water Hygiene Card. Some water network operatives may require a CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) Card and/or SHEA (Safety, Health and Environmental Awareness) Gas Passport Card.

Typical job titles

Typical job titles include Mains layer, Repair & maintenance operative, Service layer, Utility operative, Water operative..

Core occupation duties



Duty 1 Prepare for water utility network infrastructure site work, to meet clients'/customers' requirements and priorities.

K1 K12 K15

S2 S3

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6

Duty 2 Conduct risk assessments and comply with method statements for utility network infrastructure work.

K1 K2 K9

S1 S4

B1 B3 B5 B6

Duty 3 Identify and obtain plant, equipment and materials for water utility network infrastructure work, for example diggers and pipes.


S2 S9

B1 B5

Duty 4 Set up and maintain site for water utility network infrastructure work, including construction, maintenance or repair for example traffic management and control, cable/conductor detection and avoidance.

K1 K2 K3 K5

S5 S7 S8

B1 B4 B5 B6

Duty 5 Excavate site for water utility network infrastructure work.

K1 K2 K3 K6

S2 S4 S6 S8 S13

B1 B3 B5 B6

Duty 6 Restore water utility network infrastructure site to a safe condition to meet clients'/customers' requirements, for example backfill, signing and guarding.

K1 K2

S2 S4 S5 S15

Duty 7 Communicate with water utility network stakeholders, keeping them informed; for example, explaining to customers’ work to be undertaken/taken.

K7 K8 K9 K10 K11


B3 B4

Duty 8 Complete water utility network infrastructure records/documentation (written or digital) associated with activities, for example work sheets, time-sheets, drawings, risk-assessments and safety documentation.

K9 K10


B3 B5

Duty 9 Check and maintain tools and equipment before and after use in water utility network infrastructure work, for example charge batteries, clean equipment, grease machines, re-fuel; and store.

K1 K4


B1 B3 B4 B5

Option duties



Duty 10: Install clean water network infrastructure, for example new mains, water supply pipes, boundary boxes and meters.

Option title/s

 Clean water

K1 K2 K12

S2 S4 S7 S9 S11 S12 S13 S16 S17 S18 S19 S20 S21

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7

Duty 11: Restore functionality of clean water network infrastructure, for example, clean to a hygienic standard prior to testing.

Option title/s

 Clean water

K1 K2 K12

S4 S22 S23 S25

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7

Duty 12: Conduct repairs to clean water network infrastructure (reactive), for example under-pressure repair and asset repair (valves/ hydrants etc).

Option title/s

 Clean water

K1 K2 K15

S2 S4 S11 S12 S16 S17 S18 S19 S20 S24 S25 S26 S27 S28

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7

Duty 13: Respond to clean water network infrastructure emergencies and take emergency action, for example repair overland supply pipes, provide alternative supplies equipment (tankers), conduct under-pressure line stopping and diversion.

Option title/s

 Clean water

K1 K2 K7 K8 K9 K10 K13 K14

S1 S4 S29

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7

Duty 14: Apply hygiene procedures to water infrastructure in accordance with national water hygiene regulations - sanitation.

Option title/s

 Clean water

K1 K2 K12

S2 S22 S23

B1 B3 B4 B5 B6

Duty 15: Conduct chlorination activities of water infrastructure.

Option title/s

 Clean water

K1 K2 K12

S2 S22 S23

B1 B3 B4 B5 B6

Duty 16: Install/construct waste water network infrastructure (planned), for example gravity and pressurised (foul and storm).

Option title/s

 Waste water

K1 K2 K15

S2 S4 S7 S9 S11 S12 S13 S30 S31 S39

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7

Duty 17: Restore functionality of waste water network infrastructure, for example, tankering operations and over-pumping

Option title/s

 Waste water

K1 K2 K15

S2 S7 S33 S36 S37

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7

Duty 18: Conduct repairs to waste water network infrastructure (reactive), for example replacing man-hole cover.

Option title/s

 Waste water

K1 K2 K15

S2 S11 S12 S30 S32 S34 S35 S39

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7

Duty 19: Respond to waste water network infrastructure emergencies and take emergency action, for example pollution control, flood prevention.

Option title/s

 Waste water

K1 K2 K7 K8 K9 K10 K16 K17

S1 S4 S37 S38

B1 B2 B3 B4 B5 B6 B7

Duty 20: Undertake hygiene measures for example leptospirosis, gastroenteritis.

Option title/s

 Waste water

K1 K2 K18

S2 S4 S40

B1 B3 B5 B6



K1: Health and safety standards, regulations and practice, including Health and Safety at Work Act, risk assessments and safe systems of work, permits to work, New Roads and Street Works Act, working in confined spaces, working at heights, Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER), Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), personal protective equipment (PPE), Lifting Operations Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER), first aid, manual handling, fire safety, asbestos awareness.

K2: Environmental and regulatory requirements, including Environment Protection Act.

K3: Principles and processes that underpin the location of utility network assets, including health and safety guidance on avoiding damage to underground utility services.

K4: Checks, maintenance, operation and storage requirements for commonly used utility network operations equipment and tools, for example utility location equipment/tools, pneumatic gun, hand/power tools – power disc cutter, chain saw, drills.

K5: Principles of traffic management and control.

K6: Excavation techniques, for example, open cut, moling, vacuum extraction. Trench support for example, proprietary systems, sheeting and mechanical.

K7: Emergency services and statutory authorities, for example highways authorities; who they are, what they do; escalation procedures.

K8: Communication techniques – written, verbal; customer service techniques.

K9: Reporting channels; limits of authority.

K10: Industry structure and regulatory requirements for example, regulatory surveys.

K11: Equality & diversity considerations in the workplace.

K12: Procedures for the construction, connection and repair of clean water network assets (mains and services) (Clean water).

K13: Procedures for clean water network emergencies (Clean water).

K14: Consequences of flooding and pollution, on people and the environment (Clean water).

K15: Procedures for the construction, connection and repair of waste water network assets (mains and services – network pipes depending on depth and size 4-6", 9, 12" diameter to rising mains at 1.5metres (Waste water).

K16: Procedures for dealing with emergencies, internal contamination flooding (DG5), pollution (Category 1-4) (Waste water).

K17: Consequences of waste water flooding and pollution, on people and the environment (Waste water).

K18: Decontamination risks and mitigations, for example biological hazards (Waste water).


S1 Identify hazards and implement controls to reduce risks.

S2 Interpret work instructions, engineering instructions and determine actions.

S3 Identify and organise resources to undertake activities.

S4 Comply with workplace health, safety & environmental policy and practice; including use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and safety equipment.

S5 Set out signing, lighting and guarding.

S6 Excavate holes for utility network services.

S7 Monitor and maintain site conditions, including good housekeeping.

S8 Identify, locate and avoid utility supply apparatus and sub-structures.

S9 Check, maintain, operate and store equipment and tools; report faults if required.

S10 Communicate with colleagues and/or stakeholders, for example, statutory agencies and members of the public, customers.

S11 Use breathing apparatus.

S12 Use gas detection equipment.

S13 Carry out trench installation for example, sheeting, lightweight and proprietary systems.

S14 Record information, for example job reports, time sheets.

S15 Backfill and reinstate road and/or pavement surfaces after water network construction/repair.

S16 Carry out squeeze off activities to clean water services (Clean water).

S17 Join materials by electro-fusion (Clean water).

S18 Join materials by butt fusion processes (Clean water).

S19 Joint materials by mechanical means on clean water services, for example encapsulation, straight, ferrule, flange connections (Clean water).

S20 Drill and tap clean water services (Clean water).

S21 Install water supply services (Clean water).

S22 Conduct disinfection procedures for clean water mains and services (Clean water).

S23 Take water sample (Clean water).

S24 Conduct repairs to clean water asbestos mains (Clean water).

S25 Conduct pressure and soundness (integrity of pipework) testing to clean water services (Clean water

S26 Use flow and line stopping procedures (Clean water).

S27 Repair water network equipment, for example hydrants, values, boundary boxes (Clean water).

S28 Use pumps and dewatering equipment (Clean water).

S29 Apply clean water network emergency procedures (Clean water).

S30 Joint materials by flexible seals on waste water services (Waste water).

S31 Install waste water supply services (Waste water).

S32 Prepare pipework for lining (Waste water).

S33 Prepare for rodding activities for example, break out concrete or manhole point (Waste water).

S34 Conduct repairs on waste water asbestos pipes (Waste water).

S35 Repair and maintain pressurised pipes on rising mains (Waste water).

S36 Use mitigation methods to maintain flow on waste water networks flow, for example stopping or diverting (Waste water).

S37 Use pumps and dewatering equipment to mitigate and maintain flow in the network (Waste water).

S38 Apply waste water network emergency procedures (Waste water).

S39 Apply cure in place pipes (CIPP) including cold and hot cure and ultraviolet lighting (Waste water).

S40 Decontaminate equipment, tooling and PPE (Waste water).


B1: Prioritises health, safety and environment when undertaking work.

B2: Adaptable, for example willing to accept changing priorities and working requirements.

B3: Team player, for example keeps others informed, recognises personal and professional limitations and seeks advice when necessary.

B4: Professional, for example punctual, trustworthy, polite, courteous, presentable, maintains security of business specific and personal data,  takes account of equality and diversity in interactions.

B5: Self-motivated, for example manages own time effectively, takes responsibility to complete the job.

B6: Pride in work, for example works to agreed quality targets and standards.

B7: Committed to continued professional development.


English and Maths qualifications

Apprentices without level 1 English and maths will need to achieve this level and apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to take the tests for this level prior to taking the end-point assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL. 

Additional details

Occupational Level: 2
Duration (months): 18


This standard will be reviewed after three years.

Crown copyright © 2020. You may re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence. Visit www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence

Status: In development
Proposal approved Standard approved Assessment plan approved
Level: 2
Reference: ST0898
Version: 1
Date updated: 27/09/2019
Route: Engineering and manufacturing
Trailblazer contact(s): Chris.Jenkins@theclancygroup.co.uk
Employers involved in creating the standard: Anglian Water, Balfour Beatty, Clancy Group, Highways utilities, Kier, Morrison Utility Services, Northumbrian Water, SES Water, Severn Trent, Southern Water, Thames Water, United Utilities, Wessex Water

Version log

Version Date updated Change Previous version
1 27/09/2019 Standard first published

Not available