Top Ops

Congratulations to the 2019 Winners!

  • First: Birmingham Prime Movers (AL-MS)
  • Second: Water Buoys (Florida)
  • Third: EBMUD Ozonators (Cal-Nevada)


View the score sheet

2019 at Denver, Colo
1st - Birmingham Prime Movers (AL-MS)
2nd - Water Buoys (Florida) 
3rd - EBMUD Ozonators (Cal-Nevada) 

2018 at Las Vegas, Nev.
1st - Birmingham Prime Movers
2nd - Palm Coast Water Buoys
3rd - FW & PCOA Region 9
4th - Denver Water Wise Guys

2017 at Philadelphia, Penn.
1st – Palm Coast Water Buoys of Palm Coast, Florida Section
2nd – Birmingham Prime Movers, Alabama/Mississippi Section
3rd – Fort Worth Panthers, Texas Section
4th – City of Alcoa, Kentucky/Tennessee Section

2016 at Chicago, Ill.
1st – Palm Coast Water Buoys of Palm Coast, Florida Section
2nd – Fort Worth Panthers, Texas Section
3rd – Birmingham Prime Movers, Alabama/Mississippi Section
4th – Aquitards, Illinois Section

2015 at Anaheim, Calif.
1st – WSSC, Chesapeake Section
2nd – Water Buoys, Florida Section
3rd – Team Birmingham, Alabama/Mississippi Section
4th – Smooth Operators, California/Nevada Section

2014 at Boston, Massachusetts
1st – Palm Coast Water Buoys, Florida Section
2nd – Smooth Operators, California/Nevada Section
3rd – Novae, Virginia Section
4th – Monroe County, New York Section

2013 at Denver, Colo.
1st – Team Birmingham, Alabama/Mississippi Section
2nd – ACWD Smooth Operators, California/Nevada Section
3rd – Tacoma Water, Pacific/Northwest Section

2012 at Dallas, Texas
1st – Team Birmingham, Alabama/Mississippi Section
2nd – City of Palm Coast, Florida Section
3rd – Halifax Water, Atlantic Canada Section

2011 in Washington, D.C.
1st – Palm Coast Water Buoys, Florida Section
2nd – Tacoma Water, Tacoma, Washington
3rd – H2Ohio; Columbus, Ohio

2010 at Chicago, Illinois
1st – Birmingham Water Works; Birmingham, Alabama
2nd – Patuxent; Laurel, Maryland
3rd – Palm Coast Water Buoys; Palm Coast, Florida

2009 at San Diego, California
1st – Palm Coast Water Buoys; Palm Coast, Florida
2nd – Schmutzdeckers; Salem, Oregon
3rd – Fort Worth Pride, Fort Worth, Texas

2008 at Atlanta, Georgia
1st – Palm Coast Water Buoys; Palm Coast, Florida
2nd – Fort Worth Pride, Fort Worth, Texas
3rd – Team Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama

2007 at Toronto, Ontario
1st – Schmutzdeckers; Salem, Oregon
2nd – Palm Coast Water Buoys; Palm Coast, Florida
3rd – H2Ohio; Columbus, Ohio

2006 at San Antonio, Texas
1st – Palm Coast Water Buoys; Palm Coast, Florida
2nd – Team Birmingham; Birmingham, Alabama
3rd – H2Ohio; Columbus, Ohio

2005 in San Francisco, California
1st – Ft. Worth Pride; Ft. Worth, Texas
2nd – Palm Coast Water Boys; Palm Coast, Florida
3rd – City of Deltona, Florida

2004 at Orlando, Florida
1st – City of Deltona, Florida
2nd – Flocculators; Henderson, Nevada
3rd – Houston/American Water Company; Houston

2003 at Anaheim, California
1st – Houston/American Water Company; Houston, Texas
2nd – Team Kentucky; Bardstown, Kentucky
3rd – Glacier Brewd; Anchorage, Alaska

2002 at New Orleans, Louisiana
1st – Team Kentucky; Bardstown, Kentucky
2nd- California/Nevada Mud Slingers; Alameda County (California) Water District
3rd – Fairfax County (Virginia) Water Authority

2001 at Washington, D.C.
1st – Team Florida Water; Deltona, Florida
2nd – H2O Hillbillies; Frankfort, Kentucky
3rd – Houston Pilots, Houston

2000 at Denver, Colorado
1st – Houston Pilots; Houston
2nd – City of Alcoa, Tennessee

1999 at Chicago, Illinois
1st – Florida Water Services Co; Deltona, Florida
2nd -Houston Pilots; Houston, Texas
3rd – California/Nevada Section AWWA

1998 at Dallas, Texas
1st – Little Roger and the Delta Water Kings; Contra Costa Water District, California
2nd – Anne Arundel County, Maryland
3rd – The Drips; United Water, New Jersey 

1997 at Atlanta, Georgia
1st – Little Roger and the Delta Water Kings; Contra Costa Water District, California
2nd – The Optimizers; JMM Operational Services, Texas
3rd – Florida Water Services Co.; Florida Section AWWA

See all AWWA resources for operators in the AWWA Store!

Sample Questions

See more sample questions in the Certification Corner section of Opflow

Why are so many sources of water not directly suitable for drinking?
Answer: Pollution and/or contamination. (Source: SAC 1, p.4)

How is electrical energy commonly converted to mechanical energy?
Answer: Electric motors. (Source: SAC 1, p.324)

An electrical motor usually consists of four parts. Name three parts.
Answer: 1) Stator; 2) Rotor; 3) End Bells; 4) Windings. (Source: SAC 1, p. 324)

Name two differential-pressure sensing devices, using generic terms.
Answer: 1) Venturi; 2) Differential Meters; 3) Flow Tube; 4) Orifice Plate. (Source: SAC 1, p. 358)

What must be the immediate concern of the operator if contamination of a water supply is discovered?
Answer: Safety of the public. (Source: SAC 1, p. 538)

What is the difference between the amount of chlorine added and the amount of residual remaining in a sample known as?
Answer: Chlorine demand. (Source: Opflow)

What are the units by which the quantity of electrical current is measured?
Answer: Amperes. (Source: Opflow)

What is a sample called that is taken at a specific time on flowing water?
Answer: Grab sample. (Source: Opflow)

What is the term for the difference between the static water level and the pumping level of a well?
Answer: Drawdown. (Source: Opflow)

What term describes water that is suitable to drink?
Answer: Potable. (Source: Opflow)

AWWA specifically does not endorse products manufactured by sponsors and takes no position concerning the adequacy of such products or their compliance with any AWWA Standard.

What materials will be used in ACE21? I've been practicing on the 2020 meter, hydrant, pipe, etc.…
All materials for ACE20 will be used in ACE21. The rotation for meters, hydrants, pipe, and end caps will carry over for 2021. If something changes, this information will be posted online.

What if my Section held the competitions in fall 2019 and will also hold them in fall 2020?
The 2019 returning champions will still be able to seek reimbursement in 2021 for their expenses.

I was a returning champion for 2020, will I still be able to seek reimbursement?
At this time, it is up to the Section to determine which competitors they will send.

How can I still show off my team spirit? My team and I have practiced and were looking forward to ACE20.
We understand that teams have put a great deal of time and effort into preparing for ACE20. We encourage teams to send in photos of them practicing, to post pictures using the #AWWAcompetitions, and to keep the momentum going. Please tag AWWA when posting on Instragram We look forward to seeing all of you compete in 2021!

I am one of the volunteers for the competitions, what happens now?
Subcommittees will be holding conference calls with Staff over the coming weeks and will be strongly encouraged to keep in touch over the summer to help make 2021 a success.

Who should I contact if I have further questions?
For competitors, donors and volunteers, please contact

If you have further questions regarding refunds, hotel reservations, flights, etc.. please review the FAQ document on the ACE Homepage.

We appreciate and thank you all for the important work you do to protect our most valuable resource. We understand and value the work you do, and we look forward to seeing you all compete in San Diego in June 2021 (June 13-16).

What is Top Ops?
Top Ops is the “college bowl” of the water industry. Teams of one, two or three water operators or lab personnel from all AWWA Sections compete against each other in a fast-paced question-and-answer tournament. A moderator poses a broad range of technical questions and math problems, and the team scoring the most points in the championship round is awarded the Top Ops Championship.

Where is it held?
The Top Ops Competition is held annually during AWWA’s Annual Conference and Exposition.

Help! My Section’s contest occurs after the registration deadline. Can my team still register for this year’s competition?
The competition coordinators realize that your Section normally sends a team/competitor. But do not wait until you have determined whether or not you are able to travel and have completed your hotel and airline reservations. Because of signage, supplies and other information, make competition registration your top priority. It is free and only takes a minute or two.

To register:
1. Complete and submit an online registration form.
2. Print your acknowledgement from AWWA staff and bring it with you to the event.
3. Check your email for further instructions and information.

Will information be provided on-site before the Preliminaries?
Yes; all Team Captains are required to attend a mandatory meeting on Monday morning before the preliminaries. All teams will be notified of the time and place of this meeting.

May anyone enter the competition?
You must be an individual, active operator member of AWWA, an employee of a utility member, or organization member of AWWA. Please review the Eligibility Requirements in Top Ops Rules for more specific information.

Who writes the Top Ops questions?
The Top Ops Subcommittee creates the questions from AWWA publications. The group is under the oversight of the AWWA Distribution and Plant Operations Division, Operator Involvement Committee. Every year the committee sends some of the questions from its bank to the Association of Boards of Certification, which selects, validates and creates rounds.

ABC is dedicated to protecting public health and the environment by advancing the quality and integrity of environmental certification programs through innovative technical support services, effective information exchange, professional and cost-effective examination services and other progressive services for certifying members.

How do I sign up our team for the Top Ops Competition?
Complete the online registration form. Please note: There is NO onsite registration available. A certain number of rounds of questions are created in advance of the contest based on pre-registered teams. Additional, last-minute teams cannot be accommodated.

Can I videotape at Top Ops?
All videotaping is strictly forbidden to protect the integrity of Top Ops, including photographing the questions on the audience screen. Anyone who violates this rule may be asked to leave the room.

Top Ops Sponsor