RCAP Shares New Videos for Distribution Systems, Hydrants, and Chlorine Residual

Our partners at National RCAP have just shared three new videos developed as part of their EPA competitive award “Distance Assistance” initiative.  They have distributed the videos to their regional partners (RCAC, Great Lakes RCAP, Midwest Assistance Program, RCAP Solutions, Southeast RCAP, and Community Resource Group) and are encouraging them to recruit system operators to view and learn from them.  In addition, RCAP suggests that, “These videos can be used in classroom trainings as valuable “breaks” from powerpoint presentations and other training activities.  The techniques demonstrated are useful skill-building visuals of daily activities, and can even be used for math exercises.”

Just because you produced high quality water at the treatment facility doesn’t mean that your job is done. Maintaining water quality throughout your distribution system is also essential. Studies have shown that over 1/3 of waterborne illness originated from problems in the distribution system. Water quality in the distribution system can degrade for a variety of reasons including contamination from an uncontrolled cross connection, contamination during storage, or high water age leading to degradation of water quality. Events such as a main break or loss of system pressure can also allow contaminated water to enter the distribution system. So as an operator what should you do? This video will discuss 6 items for you to consider to protect water quality in the distribution system.

This video will cover basic inspection and flushing of a fire hydrant. All fire hydrants in a water system need to be inspected on a regular basis. Inspection is needed to ensure a high degree of confidence that hydrants will perform properly in an emergency. A number of circumstances can affect a hydrant’s performance, including vandalism, accidental damage, wear and tear, and mechanical malfunction. Hydrants may also be flushed periodically to improve water quality.

This video will cover taking a good chlorine sample and methods for analysis. Effective measurement of chlorine residual is essential for protection of public health. The presence of the residual not only provides disinfection, it also serves and an indicator of water quality. Loss of residual can be an indicator of a water quality problem. Chlorine residual may be measured for compliance or non-compliance purposes. While the analysis will remain the same, how you collect the sample may differ. This video will discuss measurement of chlorine residual using a colorimeter and a handheld spectrophotometer.

National RCAP is planning to share two more videos – one on coliform sampling and one on valve exercising and maintenance – in the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Meanwhile, for more information about distribution system water quality, hydrant inspection, chlorine residual, and other topics, please visit the RCAP website at www.rcap.org.


How to Think About Climate Change/Extreme Weather

We are all well aware of the weather extremes – droughts, floods, tornadoes, electrical storms – that are plaguing our nation these days.  Every water system has a “storm story” to share. We think the following information could be helpful in showing these systems what their colleagues have done and are continuing to do to avoid chronic repeats of costly weather-related incidents.

EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities (CRWU) mission is to provide resources for drinking water, wastewater, and storm water utilities to adapt to climate change by promoting a clear understanding of climate science and adaptation options.

Most recently, the CRWU Team has developed a series of videos that demonstrate how small and large, drinking water and wastewater, urban and rural systems have begun to plan ahead to be better prepared to manage extreme weather events.  Watch how these community drinking water and wastewater utilities are responding to extreme events and planning for their climate futures:

These utilities and thousands more across the nation are experiencing the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events. Many are taking action now to reduce their vulnerability and increase their resilience to a changing climate.  In 2015, EPA partnered with and assisted more than 20 communities as they completed their first climate risk assessment using EPA’s Climate Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT).  Visit the EPA Climate Ready Water Utilities website to learn more.

Help for an Early Start on Next Year’s CCRs

As you know, each year, community water systems have to prepare an annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) unless the system is small enough to warrant a special waiver by the state’s governor.  All non-waiver water systems must also demonstrate that they have developed and distributed these CCRs by July 1 of each year.

While the information below is a little late for this year’s CCR deadline, you may be interested in sharing the recently published Best Practices Factsheet and the Unit Conversion Guide with your water systems.  Click the links below for more information.

Both of these new documents should be added to your compliance assistance toolbox.

RCAP & AWWA are Partnering for Compliance Training Sessions

RCAP and AWWA are partnering to host a series of day-long, no cost training sessions across the states that focus on compliance issues of particular interest to small and rural water system operators.  See the list below to register for an event in your state over the next couple of months.

TRAINING TOPIC FOR ALL EVENTS:  Small System Operator Training:  Achieve and Maintain Compliance with SDWA

OHIO:  Brought to you by the Ohio Section-AWWA and RCAP

Date:                August 11, 2105

Time:               8:00AM – 5:00PM (eastern)

Location:         Columbus Public Utilities Complex

910 Dublin Road

Columbus, OH 43215

Register:         Click this link – Register today!


INDIANABrought to you by the Indiana Section-AWWA and RCAP

Date:                August 12, 2015

Time:               8:30AM – 4:30PM (eastern)

Location:         Nappanee Public Library

157 North Main Street

Nappanee, IN 46550

Register:         Click this link – Register today!


UTAHBrought to you by the Intermountain Section-AWWA and RCAP

Date:                August 12, 2015

Time:               8:00AM – 4:30PM (mountain)

Location:         Brian Head Town Public Safety Building

535 S. Vasels Road

Brian Head, UT 84719

Register:         Click here – Register today!


WASHINGTONBrought to you by the Pacific Northwest Section-AWWA and RCAP

Date:                August 18, 2015

Time:               8:30AM – 4:00PM (pacific)

Location:         Lacey Community Center

6729 Pacific Avenue, SE

Lacey, WA 98503

Register:         Click here – Register today!


FLORIDA:  Brought to you by the Florida Section-AWWA and RCAP

Date:                August 20, 2015

Time:               8:00AM – 4:30PM (eastern)

Location:         Florida Department of Health

4025 Esplanade Way

Tallahassee, FL 32399

Register:         Click here – Register today!


MINNESOTABrought to you by the Minnesota Section-AWWA and RCAP

Date:                August 25, 2015

Time:               8:00AM – 5:00PM (central)

Location:         Holiday Inn

75 South 37th Avenue

St. Cloud, MN 56301

Register:         Click here – Register today!


LOUISIANABrought to you by the Southwest Section-AWWA and RCAP

Date:                August 27, 2015


Location:         Farmer’s Market

500 North 3rd Street

Alexandria, LA 71301

Time/Registration:  Information coming soon.  Contact Southwest Section-AWWA for more information


SOUTH DAKOTABrought to you by the South Dakota Section and RCAP

Note:  Training split between two half days

Dates:              August 27, 2015 and August 28, 2015

Times:             1:00PM – 5:00PM and 8:00AM – 12:00PM (central)

Location:         Best Western Ramkota Hotel Pierre

920 West Sioux Avenue

Pierre, SD 57501

Register:         Click here – Register today!


These and other RCAP trainings can be found at http://www.rcap.org/rcaptraining and on AWWA’s site at http://www.awwa.org/resources-tools/water-knowledge/small-systems/2015-small-systems-training/2015-workshops.aspx.

EFCN and AWWA Host “Setting Water Rates using a Complimentary Excel-based Model” Webinar

How would you answer this question?  What should your water rates be to cover all of your expenses in the next few years?”

The Environmental Finance Center Network, in partnership with the American Water Works Association is hosting a webinar on August 11 to help water systems answer this question by demonstrating the Water and Wastewater Rates Analysis Model, a complimentary basic Excel-based tool developed for small water systems by the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

DATE:              August 11, 2015

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

REGISTER:      https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8324571126399944962

How does this model work?  Users input data on their water system’s expenses, rate structures, number of customers and customer water use. The model then projects revenues, expenses and fund balances for the next few years, giving the user the option to adjust rates as necessary to generate the revenues needed to meet financial obligations.

The model helps water systems determine whether they need to adjust rates, and by how much, in order to achieve financial sufficiency. The model can be used by water systems that set volumetric charges for water as well as systems that only charge flat monthly fees.

Who should participate?  This no-cost webinar is designed for water systems serving 10,000 or fewer people, especially targeting local government systems facing financial challenges.  Owners of privately owned systems, consultants and technical assistance providers serving small water systems are also invited to participate.

Questions?  For registration questions, please contact Laura Flag at lnflagg@syr.edu.  For program questions, please contact Lexi Kay at akay@sog.unc.edu.


EPA Webinar on Corrosion Control

EPA’s Office of Research & Development (ORD) is presenting the latest topic in its monthly webinar series – Corrosion Control for Drinking Water Systems.  There is no cost to participate.  One CEU will be offered – please check with your state program about availability.

DATE:              July 28, 2015

TIME:               2:00-3:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5651769410281471234

Two EPA presenters will provide an overview of available treatment strategies for lead & copper control and existing requirements for optimizing corrosion control under the Lead & Copper Rule, including monitoring requirements and treatment methods.

More information on this event can be found in this flyer ORDSmallSystemsWebinar_July.

Questions about this event should be sent via email to Victoria Banks at EPA     Banks.Victoria@epa.gov

RCAP Offers Online Training for Operators

Our colleagues at RCAP are hosting several online training courses for drinking water operators throughout the months of July and August.  Take a look…and please pass the information to operators in your state who might benefit from these sessions.  There is no charge to participate in the training.


Arsenic is often found as a co-contaminant with nitrate, but can also occur by itself. Disinfection byproducts are cancer-causing compounds that can form in treatment and distribution systems that use chemical disinfectants such as chlorine. Lead and copper can leach from distribution system materials and from plumbing fixtures on your customers’ premises. This workshop will describe how and where these micro-contaminants occur and the technology available for their removal. Intended audience is water treatment and distribution operators and water system managers.

DATES:     JULY 7, 2015 and again JULY 9, 2015

TIMES:      1:00AM-3:00PM (Eastern)


  For July 7 use http://www.events.rcac.org/assnfe/ev.asp?MODE=&ID=521

  For July 9 use https://www.events.rcac.org/assnfe/ev.asp?MODE=&ID=522



Nitrate is one of the “acute” contaminants for which one glass of water can make a person very sick – or worse. Nitrate contamination can come from a wide variety of sources, some natural and some directly related to human activity. This workshop will cover common sources of nitrate contamination, control methods that can be taken at the watershed, and the Best Available Technology (BAT) available for nitrate remediation and removal. Intended audience is water treatment and distribution operators and water system managers.

DATES:     JULY 28, 2015 and again JULY 30, 2015

TIMES:      1:00-3:00PM (Eastern)


  For July 28 use https://www.events.rcac.org/assnfe/ev.asp?MODE=&ID=519

  For July 30 use https://www.events.rcac.org/assnfe/ev.asp?MODE=&ID=520


The “finished” water leaving your production or treatment system can meet or exceed all applicable regulations, but a poorly operated and maintained distribution system can turn a quality product into a threat to public health. Do you have a water main flushing program? Do you have a valve exercising program? Do you have a cross connection control program? Do you have a storage tank cleaning and inspection program? This workshop will describe the principles and practices of a well operated and maintained distribution system and various tools and templates that are available. Intended audience is water distribution operators and water system managers.


DATES:     AUGUST 11, 2015 and again AUGUST 13, 2015

TIMES:      1:00-3:00PM (Eastern)


  For August 11 use https://www.events.rcac.org/assnfe/ev.asp?MODE=&ID=524

  For August 13 use https://www.events.rcac.org/assnfe/ev.asp?MODE=&ID=523

For more information on workshop content, please contact: Neil Worthen, RCAC, at 575-527-5372, nworthen@rcac.org.

For registration questions, email: registration@rcac.org.

Certificates showing 2.0 contact hours will be mailed to everyone that registers in advance, signs-in, and completes the pre- and post-test. California honors these certificates for license renewal as do several other states.   Attendees will need to check with their certifying agency.



CE Corps Helps Small, Underserved Towns

Our colleagues at the American Water Works Association (AWWA) originally published this article in their e-newsletter AWWA Connections on June 26, 2015.

In rural Port Royal, Va., population 155, engineers volunteer their time to figure out ways to shore up the town’s dilapidated water distribution system and leaky storage tank.  On the opposite coast, in towns dotting California’s Salinas Valley, engineers design plans to connect communities that use wells or septic tanks to adjacent counties capable of expanding their centralized water and sewer systems.  In northern Arizona, they work on a Navajo reservation to improve the water supply so that residents don’t have to drive up to three hours on rugged roads every week to buy water, load it into their pickup trucks, then drive home and transfer it into storage tanks.

Everybody has heard of Doctors Without Borders and lawyers who do pro bono work – but volunteer engineers?

In February 2014, the Community Engineering Corps (CE Corps) was created to help communities throughout the United States that are too poor or small to hire help. It is a partnership of the American Water Works Association, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and Engineers Without Borders—USA (EWB-USA).

EWB-USA began three decades after Doctors Without Borders

EWB-USA actually began in 2002, three decades after the well-known physician group, to provide technical assistance to poor villages throughout the world on projects ranging from construction of a health clinic in Peru to the implementation of household biosand filters in Cameroon. Along the way, engineers expanded their charitable work to this country.

“There is a desire to give back,” said Lindsey Geiger, project engineer with AWWA. “I hear that from our members all the time. They ‘grew up’ – professionally – with AWWA resources and are now looking for opportunities to contribute in a meaningful way.”

In the CE Corps’ first year, 25 communities submitted applications for assistance. A team of engineers reviews each application to determine the nature of the project and whether the community truly can’t afford engineering services. So far, 20 of the project applications have been approved and are in various stages of development.

Though the projects are “important and meaningful” to the communities, they are typically small in scope, said Peter Waugh, domestic program director at EWB-USA.  “Larger communities, larger projects, generally have more financial resources,” Waugh said. “Also, smaller projects are more manageable and can be done reasonably by a group of volunteers. Within our alliance organizations – AWWA, ASCE and EWB – we have all the expertise you would ever want for any civil engineering project anywhere on the globe. But volunteers can only do so much.”

Engineers Needed

About 250 engineers have already donated countless hours, but more volunteers are needed. The projects require civil engineers, but mechanical, IT, electrical and chemical engineers also assist, in addition to scientists and operators.

“Doing pro bono work is perhaps not quite as firmly established in engineering as it could be,” Waugh said. “Part of the reason may be that the opportunity to use our engineering skills to help others has often meant traveling around the globe. Now, with the CE Corps, engineers can use their skills to help others right around the corner.”  Because the CE Corps is so new, needy communities often hear about it the old fashioned way — word of mouth.

Bill Wick, the town manager of Port Royal, learned about the Corps in a spring 2014 phone call from Alan Roberson, a civil engineer and AWWA director of federal relations. “We understand you have a water problem and we’d like to help you,” Roberson said.  Last year, the Virginia Department of Health condemned Port Royal’s rusty, half-century old water tower. The tank that sits atop is almost as old. “We’re desperately trying to figure out how to fix or replace our water tower,” Wick said. “We have to put extra chlorine in the tank to make sure the water is safe.”

Port Royal Can’t Afford to Hire Engineers

The possibility of hiring engineers never occurred to anybody in Port Royal, said Wick, where 40 percent of the residents are low income. The town operates on a $65,000 annual budget that barely pays the salaries of its four part-time employees, let alone engineers on capital improvement projects.

Roberson and his CE Corps crew of about five engineers are beginning to advise town leaders through the process, including the eventual upgrade of the entire distribution system and replacing cast iron pipes running down some streets.  “First, you have to write an RFP (request for proposal) for a consultant to design what we are going to build,” Roberson said. “Eventually, they will have to replace all of their water pipes. They haven’t put much money in the water system since it was built except for patches.”

In the second phase, the engineers will help town leaders hire a consultant to draw up plans and specifications, place an advertisement for a contractor and oversee the construction. The team will also give advice on applying for grants and state revolving funds to finance the project. It could take three to five years before the project is complete.

Engineers in Arizona are looking at a similar timeline as they guide residents on the Navajo reservation in upgrading their water delivery system. Dr. Malcolm Siegel co-leads a CE Corps team with engineers Jennifer Thomas and Nicholas Riedel. So far, the trio has given advice on raising funds to buy project materials and tested the well water, which is unregulated and sometimes contaminated with uranium.

Most of the residents who benefit from the project want to stay on the reservation, regardless of the quality of the drinking water.  ”Some people would look at the situation and say, ‘It’s hopeless. They should just move out,’” said Siegel, an environmental scientist. “But most of the people here are elderly and don’t want to leave. Some say their umbilical cord is buried where they live.”

In describing his dedication to the project, Siegel noted that this country goes to great lengths to save endangered species. Our poor and underserved deserve no less, he said.  “What we’re doing enables these people to finish out their lives here instead of an institution,” Siegel said. “We’re helping them preserve their dignity and way of life.”

Want to Know More or Propose a Project?

For more information about CE Corps, to volunteer to work with communities, or to identify a community that could use CE Corps assistance, please contact Lindsey Geiger, AWWA project engineer. She can be reached at 303-347-6209 or by email at lgeiger@awwa.org.

Sharing the Value of Water

Last year, you may recall that our EPA colleagues hosted “Tap Talks on Tuesdays,” a web based series designed to emphasize the value of water and to showcase strategies that have been effective in communicating the importance of clean and safe water delivery services to community leaders and the general public.

Today, EPA is pleased to announce that all of the great information presented during that webinar series has been compiled into a single document – Communicating the Value of Drinking Water Services: Using Campaigns and Community Engagement Efforts.  This compilation provides a snapshot of different outreach campaigns, community events, and other activities that you can use to raise public awareness on the value of water services.  ASDWA encourages you to take a look at these materials and share them with your colleagues in the water community.

PrivateWellClass Hosts Spanish Version Webinar on Private Well Basics

PrivateWellClass.org will be hosting a special webinar in July on the basics of private well care and water quality.  It will be delivered in Spanish to help this information reach new audiences.  If you are aware of Spanish-speaking private well owners, please share this opportunity.

DATE:  July 21, 2015

TIME:  2:00-3:30 (eastern)

REGISTER:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5615875852570533122

The webinar will focus on well water quality and private well testing.  It describes the Private Well Class self-paced education program and how to sign up.  It also will cover:

  • source water protection and water quality key issues (natural groundwater quality concerns, surface influences, setbacks, etc.)
  • how and where to collect a sample
  • what to test for and where to get it tested
  • what to do with the results
  • things to consider regarding treatment, and
  • who to talk to locally for advice.

A promotional flyer (in Spanish) that describes the webinar is available.  Click here to view the flyer.  The flyer includes an active link to the webinar registration page.

For questions, email the Private Well Class at info@privatewellclass.org.