Don’t Forget the Rural Water Funding Option

As you work with small systems to help them upgrade or otherwise improve their infrastructure, don’t forget that NRWA has a separate Rural Water Loan Fund that may be just the solution you’re looking for.  The Fund was established under a grant from USDA to be used for predevelopment costs, short term equipment replacement costs, or other small capital projects not part of a system’s regular O&M.

Loan amounts may not exceed $100,000 (or 75% of the total project cost) whichever is less.  Repayment periods can be as long as 10 years – but no longer than that.  The program also offers 5-year interest only predevelopment loans and 90 day no interest disaster area emergency loans.

Interested in knowing more – or ready to apply?  Just send an email to loans@nrwa.org.

EFC Network Hosts New Small Systems Blog

As part of their efforts under the EPA Training and Technical Assistance Grant award, the Environmental Finance Center Network is offering to connect those with an interest in topics related to water finance and management to their Small Systems Blog.  Common blog topics include asset and energy management, regulatory compliance, fiscal planning and rate setting, funding coordination, water loss reduction, managerial and financial leadership and water system collaboration.

Their latest featured blog post is written by David Tucker, a Project Director at the UNC Chapel Hill EFC.  Click the title to read more The Virtuous Cycle: Internal Energy Revolving Funds for Small Water Systems.

If you’d like to receive this blog on a monthly basis, just click this link Subscribe.

Want to be a CUPSS Trainer?

If you’d like to become proficient in using the CUPSS (Check Up Program for Small Systems) software as part of your work with assistance providers, training entities, or small water systems, here’s how to begin.

EPA is hosting a three-part Train-the-Trainer CUPSS webinar series on March 1st, 8th, and 15th.  The series (2 hours each) will culminate in participants’ successful use of the CUPSS software to implement asset management practices at small water and wastewater systems.  Each session will include an overview of a CUPSS module, followed by live demonstrations.  Participants who complete the assignments after each session will receive a CUPSS Trainers Certificate and will be included in the CUPSS Trainers Directory.  There is no cost to participate but you must register in advance.

Session 1:  Setting up CUPSS and My Inventory – Learn how to install and navigate CUPSS, create an asset inventory, and set up a customized asset report.

DATE:              March 1, 2016s

TIME:               1:00-3:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      http://login.icohere.com/registration/register.cfm?reg=2515&evt=030116

Session 2:  My O&M and My Finances – Create your operation and maintenance tasks, enter finance information, and determine your financial forecast.

DATE:              March 8, 2016s

TIME:               1:00-3:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      http://login.icohere.com/registration/register.cfm?reg=2517&evt=030816

Session 3:  My CUPSS Plan, Advanced Features, and Tips for Trainers – Create a custom asset management plan, CUPSS troubleshooting tips, and advanced features.

DATE:              March 15, 2016s

TIME:               1:00-3:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      http://login.icohere.com/registration/register.cfm?reg=2518&evt=031516

Financial Tools and Resources for Small Water Systems

 

 

Do you know of water systems that are looking to tackle financial and managerial challenges but are not sure where to begin?  The Environmental Finance Center Network (EFCN) is hosting a webinar to showcase a variety of free tools that are available to help.

 

DATE:              February 17, 2016

TIME:               2:00-3:00PM

REGISTER:      https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2657838834576994817

 

This webinar will focus on helpful resources available through the EFCN such as:  rates dashboards, directories of state funding sources, spreadsheet tools including the Asset Management Inventory Database, webinars on demand, and a resource library with additional tools, publications, and blog posts organized by problem area.  The webinar will also discuss how systems can receive free technical assistance through the Smart Management for Small Water Systems Program

 

There is no cost to participate in this event, however, you must register in advance.

Put the CUPSS Community Call on your Calendar

The CUPSS Team is hosting the next CUPSS Community Call on Wednesday, February 10 to showcase and demonstrate the new CUPSS Asset Plus Costs Report and ‘CUPSS in Action’ that focuses on tribal efforts related to asset management.

DATE:              February 10, 2016

TIME:               1:00-2:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:  http://login.icohere.com/registration/register.cfm?reg=2358&evt=cupss21016&t=506090318

If you have any questions, please email cupss@epa.gov.

RCAP Position Opening

The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) is seeking applicants for its Policy Director/Grant Manager position at its headquarters based in Washington DC.  Duties of this position include the management of Federal grants, preparation of applications and reports, liaison with Federal agencies, industry groups and Congressional offices, and other duties as found in the full job description.

If you are interested, please click this link http://www.rcap.org/policydirector_position for more information.

 

 

GAO Looks at Asset Management

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has just published a report that looks at water utilities’ use of asset management with a special focus on smaller (<10,000) systems.  GAO reviewed efforts undertaken by both EPA and USDA and visited 25 small drinking water and/or wastewater utilities across ten states (AZ, AR, DE, ID, IA, MN, MS, NY, VT, and WY) that had been identified (one per EPA Region) as having the highest percentage of small water utility needs per recent EPA Needs Surveys.

EPA, USDA, and officials from the ten states identified both benefits and challenges for small systems with regard to implementing asset management programs.  The identified benefits were fairly straightforward and focused on cost savings and more efficient long term planning.  The challenges, however, were a bit lengthier and more complex.  They included the availability of funding to cover start-up and maintenance costs, availability of human resources, information on how to implement asset management practices, and political support from elected officials to begin an asset management program or increase user rates.

While both EPA and USDA continue to work to help water utilities implement asset management programs through a variety of mechanisms, GAO offered two specific recommendations for the agencies:

  1. “That the Administrator of EPA direct the Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water and Office of Wastewater Management to continue to include questions on water utilities’ use of asset management in the clean water needs assessment and consider including questions about water utilities’ use of asset management in future drinking water infrastructure needs assessment surveys.”
  1. “That the Administrator of EPA, and the Secretary of USDA, through the Rural Development Agency, consider compiling into one document the existing cases and examples of the benefits and costs of asset management and widely share this information with water utilities.”

In response, EPA generally agreed with the recommendations but noted that the needs surveys may not be the most efficient data collection vehicles.  EPA said, however, that it would be willing “…to explore other means of obtaining data that would provide an indication of how utilities are benefitting from the agency’s asset management training and technical assistance.”  On the issue of compiling case studies, EPA concurred that, as funding and resources allow, it would consider the development of a case study compilation.  USDA did not specifically comment on this recommendation other than to state that it will continue to emphasize asset management.

 

To view and/or download the full report, please click this link: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-16-237

AWWA Offers Winter/Spring Water Treatment Courses

If you know of water system operators who want to improve their skills or prepare for their certification exam, the following information may be of use to them.  AWWA is preparing to offer a series of training courses designed for various experience levels in water treatment.  Be aware, however, that there are fees attached to the courses.  Each course lasts 60 hours and consists of pre-recorded presentations, online learning activities, videos, quizzes and evaluations.

Please read below for more information.

EL239 | Water Treatment Operator Level 1- Basics

Refresh your skills while learning how to prepare for the certification test. These courses introduce the basic functions and responsibilities of Level 1 operators, as well as water treatment processes, their uses, characteristics, sizing, and calculations and analyses of these processes. Begins February 15 > Register

EL240 | Water Treatment Operator Level 2- Processes

Learn in-depth concepts and practices about conventional water treatment processes, membrane/UV processes, and basic laboratory and sampling skills. You will also be able to gain in-depth understanding of surface water treatment, groundwater treatment, and the particular parameters that dictate successful treatment of both water sources. Begins March 21 > Register

EL241 | Water Treatment Operator Level 3- Analysis and Applications

This course offers a unique combination of advanced process troubleshooting knowledge and introductory preparation for supervisory responsibilities and will help you learn how to manage employees and the legal obligations for regulatory compliance. Begins April 25 > Register

CUPSS Community Newsletter is Attached

Happy 2016! The CUPSS (Check Up Program for Small Systems) Team at EPA Headquarters has some new updates and events to share with the CUPSS community. Check out the this link What’s Up With CUPSS_January2016_Final to download the latest Newsletter. You’ll find information on an upcoming CUPSS Community Call, 2016 Train-the-Trainer webinars, and the new CUPSS enhancement. Don’t hesitate to send any questions or comments tocupss@epa.gov.

Uranium Standards/Technologies/Research Webinar

As part of the ongoing EPA ORD Small Systems Webinar Series, the next web event topic is “Uranium Standards in Drinking Water and Removal Technologies Research at Small Community Water Systems.”

DATE:              Tuesday, January 26

TIME:               2:00-3:00PM (eastern) with optional Q&A to follow

REGISTER:      https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3843074986104648194

For more information, please see the PDF flyer here ORDSmallSystemsWebinar_January