Drinking Water Centers Launch a New Webinar Series

[Editor’s Note:  Our colleagues at SmallWaterSupply.org have brought the article below to our attention.  We thought you may have an interest in learning more.]

The National Centers for Innovation in Small Drinking Water Systems kicked off their webinar series Nov. 6 with detailed discussions of the demographics of small systems and the issues they face. Going forward, the webinar series will highlight work underway at the University of Colorado-Boulder’s DeRISK Center and WINSSS Center at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst to facilitate widespread acceptance of new technologies by small drinking water systems. The centers’ parallel research efforts are funded by U.S. EPA.

While the live webinars are intended for cross-communication between the centers, recordings will be available at DrinkingWaterCenters.org soon. In the meantime, be sure to subscribe to Technology News for monthly updates delivered straight to your inbox.

EPA Shares Updated Sanitary Survey Guide

EPA OGWDW has shared the draft final version of their latest Sanitary Survey Learners Guide with ASDWA.  The Guide has been updated to include recent regulatory changes and to improve coverage of various treatment technologies.  As noted in the Guide’s introduction, “The intent…is to provide sanitary survey students with an additional resource they can reference in conjunction with their field guides, for use during field and classroom training, and during subsequent mentor-lead sanitary surveys.”  Developed to support the Sanitary Survey training conducted by EPA, it can also serve as a good training tool on its own.  You can view or download the Guide on ASDWA’s website by clicking this link Regulatory tab.



EPA Hosts New Small Systems Research Website

EPA’s Office of Research and Development has just launched a new small systems research website.  Building on the Agency’s research capabilities, the new website show cases how EPA’s researchers develop and demonstrate treatment technologies and approaches so that communities and state primacy agencies can be assured that they will be successful in removing contaminants of interest, without compromising the overall sustainability of their system.  The website supports small system needs in both drinking water and wastewater.  Click http://www2.epa.gov/water-research/small-drinking-water-and-wastewater-systems-research to learn more about small system research related to microbial disinfection technologies, models, tools, and databases, and upcoming webinars.

Board & Staff Communication from EFCN & AWWA

On November 3, please join the Environmental Finance Center Network (EFCN) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) as they take a closer look at effective communications strategies between water utility staff and their governing Boards.  There is no cost to participate but you must register in advance.

DATE:              Tuesday, November 3, 2015

TIME:               2:30-3:30PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/855365440417567746

Financially healthy water systems depend on good relationships between the staff who operate and manage the system and governing boards who approve rate changes. This webinar will examine strategies that staff can use to communicate the need for rate adjustments and other policy changes. The webinar will also discuss the results of a nation-wide survey of managers and elected officials on what factors lead to successful staff/board relations. While the survey focused on water systems operated by local government, the findings will be relevant to any water system with a governing board that approves rate changes.

Registration questions?  Laura Flagg lnflagg@syr.edu

Program questions?  Francine Stefan mfstefan@sog.unc.edu

California Takes on Mandatory Water System Consolidation

In June, California’s Governor signed Senate Bill 88 into law.  The new law allows the State Water Resources Control Board (where the drinking water program is now housed) to “…require certain water systems that consistently fail to provide safe drinking water to consolidate with, or receive an extension of service from, another public water system. The consolidation can be physical or managerial.”

While the state has long encouraged voluntary consolidations or restructuring, the ongoing severe drought and resulting water emergencies experienced by both small and disadvantaged communities provides the impetus for this new direction.  The state has also said, “Consolidating public water systems and extending service from existing public water systems to communities and areas which currently rely on under-performing or failing small water systems, as well as private wells, reduces costs and improves reliability.  It does this by extending any development costs to a larger pool of ratepayers.”

The new process involves first providing technical assistance to analyze the problem and recommend a course of action for the distressed system.  Separate from enforcement-required actions, this process then creates a dialogue with the affected system and nearby public water systems.

Factors to be considered before any consolidation is undertaken include analyses of the capacity of the neighboring system; geographical separation; infrastructure improvement costs; costs and benefits to both systems; and access to financing for the resulting consolidated entity.  The two systems then have a six-month window to develop a consolidation plan.  Should that not happen, the State Board may order the two systems to consolidate.

Mandatory consolidation is dependent on several factors that must be addressed.  These include determinations that the system fails to provide safe drinking water; such consolidation is technically and economically feasible and provides the most efficient and cost-effective means for providing a safe water supply; and the capacity of the proposed interconnection is large enough to accommodate additional customers.  Outreach to affected customers must also occur before any consolidation can take place.

It will be interesting to follow the progress of this new California approach.  Some preliminary notices regarding consolidation have already been issued and the deliberative process has begun.

For more information about this California initiative, please visit the State Water Board’s website at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/drinking_water/programs/compliance/index.shtml.  This link also includes a Fact Sheet that summarizes the new requirements, the process and the state’s legal authorities to act.

EPA’s Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center Launches New Website

EPA’s Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center’s (WIRFC) mission is to provide objective financial advice to help communities make informed decisions on financing drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure projects. The Center does not fund water infrastructure projects.

Now, WIRFC has a revamped website that communities can reference for financing drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. Communities across the country are facing challenges with aging infrastructure. The need for water sector resiliency is becoming more and more of a focus for utilities across the nation. The Center has been actively working to identify best practices for innovative financing and provide technical assistance to communities to meet these water financing needs.  Take a look at the new website http://www2.epa.gov/waterfinancecenter

Current Center-based activities include:

Regional Finance Forums  These forums bring together communities with water infrastructure financing needs in an interactive peer-to-peer networking format. Attendees hear how local utilities have financed resilient water infrastructure projects and have the opportunity to meet key regional funding and technical assistance contacts.

Disadvantaged Community Support  The Center is kicking off work to build financial capacity in small and medium disadvantaged communities. Through increased communication with community decision makers and targeted technical assistance, the Center assists in identifying financing options to address community needs. Financing options include available funding sources and possible financing strategies.

Affordability Programs  The Center is exploring how household affordability considerations are addressed for specific segments of service areas that have difficulty paying water and sewer bills. The Center is developing a compendium on rate assistance and household affordability program best practices.

Innovative State Revolving Fund Financing  The Center is launching a State Revolving Fund (SRF) Peer-to-Peer Learning Program with the Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities (CIFA) and engaging in other SRF outreach on state-of-the-art practices.

Partnerships  The Center is initiating a Water Infrastructure Public-Private Partnership and Public-Public Partnership Study and Local Government Training with the University of North Carolina Environmental Finance Center and West Coast Exchange. The Center is working with its partners to promote new tools such as EPA Region 3’s “Community-Based Public-Private Partnerships Guide for Local Governments” to explore alternative market-based tools for integrated green stormwater infrastructure.

Stormwater Financing Clearinghouse  The Center is focusing on stormwater financing by developing a clearinghouse of information to support communities to develop dedicated sources of revenue for stormwater programs.

EFCN and AWWA Present “Asset Management: Tips and Tricks”

Our colleagues at the Environmental Finance Center Network (EFCN) and AWWA are hosting another in their ongoing webinar series to support small system needs.  There is no cost to participate, but you must register in advance.

DATE:              Tuesday, September 29, 2015

TIME:               2:30-3:30PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      Register

If you are involved in Asset Management activities at your water utility, or if you have considered using Asset Management, this webinar is for you. Three experienced asset managers have agreed to share some tips and tricks they’ve learned in their years of practicing asset management. Topics such as setting service level goals, assessing asset condition and determining asset risk will be discussed. There will also be an opportunity for you to ask questions.

Registration questions?  Contact Laura Flagg lnflagg@syr.edu

Program questions?  Contact Dawn Nall efcnall@gmail.com

EPA Announces RFA for Next Round of Competitive Awards

On September 11, EPA announced that they are making $12,678,000 available (FY 15 funds) on a competitive basis for training and technical assistance to improve water quality and enable small public water systems to provide safe drinking water.  Under the Request for Applications (RFA), eligible applicants for these grants are nonprofit organizations, nonprofit private universities and colleges, and public institutions of higher education.   Eligible recipients of the training and technical assistance are small public water systems, small publicly-owned wastewater systems, communities served by onsite/decentralized wastewater systems, and owners of private wells.

Applications must address one of the following 4 National Priority Areas:

(1) Training and Technical Assistance for Small Public Water Systems to Achieve and Maintain Compliance with the SDWA (training and technical assistance for small public water systems to enable such systems to achieve and maintain compliance with the SDWA);

(2) Training and Technical Assistance to Improve Financial and Managerial Capacity and Enable Small Public Water Systems to Provide Safe Drinking Water (training and technical assistance for small public water systems to build their financial and managerial capacity to provide safe drinking water over the long term);

(3) Training and Technical Assistance for Small Publicly-Owned Wastewater Systems and Onsite/Decentralized Wastewater Systems to Help Improve Water Quality (training and technical assistance to improve operational performance of wastewater systems over the long-term, thereby improving public health and water quality); or

(4) Training and Technical Assistance for Private Well Owners to Help Improve Water Quality (training and technical assistance to provide private well owners with information they need to protect their drinking water supply and improve water quality).

The deadline for applying for the funds is October 26, 2015. 

To download an application, or for more information, go to: http://water.epa.gov/grants_funding/sdwa/smallsystemsrfa.cfm.  EPA expects to award the grants in winter, 2015-16.

EPA Publishes Operator Certification Compendium

PLEASE NOTE:  Since the original September 3 posting for this information, Idaho, Washington, Montana, North Dakota and Puerto Rico have all verified or updated their information.  The attached document now reflects these changes.

Our colleagues on the EPA OGWDW Sustainable Systems Team have prepared an updated compendium of state drinking water operator certification programs.  As you know, Section 1419(b) of the 1996 SDWA Amendments describes the conditions under which EPA would institute capitalization grant withholding unless the state adopts and implements an operator certification program.  This compendium is designed to serve as a reference tool for making comparisons among state programs for certifying operators of community water systems (CWSs) and nontransient noncommunity water systems (NTNCWSs). The attached document has two principal sections:

  • State Summaries of Existing Operator Certification programs (a detailed look at each state’s program)
  • Summary Table of Existing Operator Certification programs (a quick reference for comparison among state programs)

Please note that all state program information has been verified by the state Operator Certification Coordinator (current at time of publication), with the exception of the following states and one territory: Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Washington and Puerto Rico.

Questions?  Please contact Matt Reed at EPA:  reed.matthew@epa.gov.


DRAFT Summary of State Operator Certification Programs v1.1 (15Sep15)


AWWA and EFCN Offer More Helpful Webinars and Workshops

As you know, AWWA and the Environmental Finance Center Network (EFCN) are partnering under a grant award from EPA to help meet the needs of small drinking water systems.  Below is the latest in their series of no cost web events geared toward small systems.  These two organizations are also partnering on a series of small system workshops.  See below for more information.  Note that for both the webinars and the workshops, you must register in advance to attend.

Identifying and Overcoming Challenges to Successful Water Utility Partnerships

Date:    September 11, 2015

Time:   1:30-3:00PM (eastern)

This webinar will explore the challenges water systems, particularly small water systems, face when entering into agreements and partnerships with other water systems. The webinar will examine a variety of partnership models, but will focus primarily on agreements to sell and buy water under different conditions.  Participants will have the opportunity to provide their opinions about how they evaluate entering into different types of agreements under different circumstances.

This webinar will provide attendees with:

  • a brief overview of water system agreements and common challenges and
  • several example case study scenarios

Find Money in the Water System Budget: Paying for Energy Improvements

 Date:    September 16, 2015

Time:   2:00-3:00PM (eastern)

This webinar will focus on energy savings performance contracting (ESPC). We will hear from a representative of an ESCO about how the firm does performance contracting for energy management projects, especially for water (and possibly wastewater) systems and from a small drinking water system professional about his experience with financing energy management projects for the utility, especially using an energy performance contracting model to pay for it.

In-Person Workshops

EFCN and AWWA are also partnering to provide in person workshops for small systems on subjects such as financial management, operator compliance training, and leadership and communication skills.

Here are a few workshops coming soon:

  • South Burlington, Vermont, 9/10
  • Arlington and Austin, Texas (respectively), 9/11 and 9/22-9/23
  • Clarksville, Georgia, 9/30
  • Morgantown, West Virginia, 10/1
  • Layton, Utah, 10/6

To register, learn more about the workshops, and to view additional locations, visit 2015 Workshops.

QUESTIONS?  For webinars: Khris Dodson at kdodson@syracusecoe.org; for training: Kami Johle Butt at kbutt@awwa.org