AWWA Offers Free Op Cert Exam Prep Materials

Our colleagues at AWWA are offering two helpful reference sheets – one on math and one on chemistry – that operators may find useful as they study for their certification exams.  As AWWA says, “These reference sheets contain useful formulas, conversions and other pieces of information that you may need to know for your operator certification exam.  Check with your state for more specific instructions on what you need to know.”

 

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EFCN Partners Host Several Useful Small Systems Webinars

Managing Disasters Before Disasters Strike

DATE:              Wednesday, October 10, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Click here

This webinar will explore emergency management and resilience strategies that can help small systems prepare for disasters. Discussions will cover trends in hazards, critical infrastructure stressors, and what steps small systems can take to adapt to an uncertain future.

Understanding the Root Cause of a Problem at Your Water System

DATE:              Thursday, October 18, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Click here

Understanding the root cause of a problem at your water system is the crucial first step in addressing the issue appropriately. This webinar will introduce and demonstrate two tools that will help water operators and managers get to the root cause of a difficult problem. The first tool is a line of inquiry called Five Why’s. The second is using a lens through which you can examine the problem from different perspectives, called PESTEL. By using these tools, water operators and managers can ensure that they define the problem correctly, so they can apply the right methods, and maximize the efficiency of their staff time, money, and other resources.

Working Together to Protect Your Drinking Water Source

DATE:              Thursday, October 25, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Click here

There are many benefits of collaborative relationships between water utilities, land conservation agencies and land trusts, and municipalities and counties to protect drinking water sources facing development pressure. Collaboration is not easy, however, and does not come naturally to all involved. This webinar will outline the benefits of collaboration as well as how to overcome any challenges that may arise. Panelists will share both the successes and lessons learned from getting outside their comfort zones and forging new partnerships

Risk and Resilience: Assessing Vulnerability for Coastal Communities

DATE:              Friday, November 2, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Click here

In light of an ever-changing climate and increasingly stressed infrastructure, we must take steps towards preventing and mitigating the duration and severity of water service interruptions. This webinar will discuss the importance of understanding risk, explore what it means to be a resilient coastal system, and suggest strategies for conducting basic vulnerability assessments.

Joint Webinar – DWSRF and Capacity Building in Action – Workforce Development and Operator Training

Interested in learning about how DWSRF set-asides can be used for workforce development and operator training activities?

DATE:              Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Click Here

Join EPA DWSRF and Sustainable Systems Teams for a webinar to hear about Iowa’s Water and Wastewater Treatment Technology Diploma Program, Tennessee’s Fleming Training Center for operators, and EPA’s workforce resources and tools.

EFCN Offers “After Hours” Training Opportunities

Do you sometimes wish there was a way to bring Boards, local officials, and system owners to your training table – especially when the subject is money?  Here are two evening webinar opportunities provided by the Environmental Finance Center Network (EFCN) that we encourage you to share with these decision-makers.  The timing is such that the hour-long experience should not conflict with their regular work schedules.

Water System Financial Management

 DATE:              August 28, 2018

TIME:               9:00-10:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      Register Online

This webinar will provide an overview of key financial management best practices for small water system owners, board members, and local elected officials. We will discuss the fiscal responsibilities of water system leaders, budgeting best practices, and ways to measure and improve the overall financial health of the water system. You will also learn about how water systems can best use reserve accounts to improve their financial management.

Water System Rate Setting

DATE:              September 6, 2018

TIME:               9:00-10:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      Register Online

This webinar will provide an overview of rate setting best practices for small water system owners, board members, and local elected officials. We will discuss the link between water system objectives and rates and explore different types of rate structures. You will learn about available tools and resources to assist with rate setting, and how rates can be set for systems that are partnering or collaborating to provide water service.

 

How Do You Know How Old Your Assets Are?

During the recent National Capacity Development and Operator Certification Workshop in Indianapolis, an interesting question was posed.  The topic under discussion was asset management.  The question was how can very small utilities, particularly those with volunteer boards, determine how old assets are in order to develop a capital improvement plan.

I didn’t have a solid sense of what a good answer should be, so, I asked Heather Himmelberger, the Director for the Southwest Environmental Finance Center.  Heather and her team spend countless hours helping small communities with precisely these kinds of questions.

Here’s Heather’s response…

“The truth is, it doesn’t really matter how old an asset actually is.  The age of an asset is only one characteristic that defines an asset, but it is not even close to being the most important. The good news is that a range of factors such as condition, useful life remaining, preventative maintenance history, and corrective maintenance history, are much more important in determining when an asset needs to be replaced than the age of the asset.

“These factors are also ones that an operator and/or system manager can actually know or make a good educated guess about.  For assets that can be seen, a visual review of the asset by those familiar with it, combined with whatever is known about preventative maintenance history, repair history, and operational issues, can provide a good estimate of condition and how much longer the asset will be able to do the job for which it is intended. For assets that can’t be seen, the same categories can be used to estimate condition and useful life remaining, except the visual inspection.

“When operators or managers are being requested to make an estimate of useful life remaining, it is important to ask the question in the form of, “knowing all you know about how the asset has been operating, how it’s been maintained, the repairs you’ve had to do…how much longer do you think that pump can keep pumping or that valve can continue to open and close or the pipe can convey water, etc.?” This is an estimate in terms of number of years it can still do its job. Will the operator/board member/manager be completely right about their estimates? The answer is no, but that’s okay.  They may overestimate some or underestimate others, but it will be good enough to develop a simple capital improvement plan.

“If you back up a little further and say, what if they don’t even know what assets they have, the process starts at a different place.  Every water system has some knowledge of their system’s components; it may be in someone’s head or in old drawings or just in visual clues on the ground, but there is a starting place. In that case, you start with what is known and develop a simple asset inventory and/or a map of assets. All assets that can be seen (e.g., valves, hydrants, meters, treatment facilities, storage tanks) are good places to start.  An operator/board member can walk or drive around the system either on their own or with an assistance provider and collect data about the assets. Data collection can be done with simple phone apps or on a piece of paper.  Any assets unable to be seen, such as pipe, can be drawn in later based on the visual clues such as valves, meters, and hydrants.  Will this data be exact?  No, but it will be good enough to get the CIP started.  The inventory and map can always be updated and improved over time.”

Thanks, Heather, for offering some helpful, basic approaches in working with very small systems.

WEBINAR:  Renewing the Water Workforce: Improving Water Infrastructure and Creating a Pipeline to Opportunity

Our colleague, Jane Thapa, Operator Certification Coordinator in the New York Department of Health, forwarded this webinar opportunity from The Water Research Foundation (WRF).  Thanks, Jane!

DATE:              August 28, 2018

TIME:               3:00-4:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      https://event.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1204453&tp_key=c7271668a7

Hosted by WRF, this free webcast will explore the findings of Renewing the Water Workforce: Improving Water Infrastructure and Creating a Pipeline to Opportunity, published by the Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institute. This research provides insight on the nation’s 1.7 million water workers, including data on wages, skills, and demographics. The speakers will also present actionable strategies—a new water workforce playbook—that all types of leaders can use in future hiring, training, and retention efforts.

As the U.S. economy continues to grow, many communities are struggling to translate this growth into more equitable and inclusive employment opportunities. Meanwhile, many of our infrastructure assets are in urgent need of repair or restoration, and the workers needed to carry out these efforts are in short supply. These two challenges offer an enormous economic opportunity: infrastructure is well positioned to offer more durable careers to a wide variety of workers. The United States needs a new generation of skilled workers to design, construct, operate, and govern our various infrastructure systems. It falls to water utilities, workforce development partners, and local, state, and national leaders to develop a water workforce to meet ongoing demands, ideally connected to the diverse residents and communities they serve.

EFCN Partners Offer More Webinars

Have questions about Asset Management or wonder how to improve communications with a Water Board?  Our colleagues at the Environmental Finance Center Network may have just what you’re looking for…

WEBINAR:  Ask the Expert: A Unique Opportunity to Ask Your Asset Management Questions or Seek Advice on How to Begin

DATE:              Thursday, August 30, 2018

TIME:               1:00-2:30PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      Register Online

Whether you are just starting to think about asset management and wonder where to begin or are a seasoned practitioner, this webinar is for you. This is your opportunity to ask anything from where to start, to how to sustain a program, to how to set level of service goals or listen to Q&A from others. All questions related to asset management are welcome. In addition to receiving expertise from the U.S., you will have access to a leading asset management professional from New Zealand, which boasts one of the most advanced practices in the world.

Presenters:  Heather Himmelberger, Director – Southwest Environmental Finance Center at the University of New Mexico and Ross Waugh – Waugh Infrastructure Management

 

WEBINAR:  Communicating Water to Your Board

DATE:              Friday, September 7, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Register Online

When your water utility board understands the work you do, you are better able to provide high-quality water service to your community. In this webinar, you will discover a few new tools to improve communication with your board so that they can make sound, well-informed decisions for the water utility.

Presenter:  Tonya Bronlewee, Program Manager – Environmental Finance Center at Wichita State University

Just in Case You Missed It…

The small system drinking water support community is a collaborative one.  We often support each other by re-sharing information.  In this case, we are sharing resource news that you may have received from our partners at wateroperator.org or from your regional RCAP organization.  In any case, we believe that the information below should be useful to you in your work with small drinking water systems.

Did you know that over 20 training modules on water & wastewater topics are available on Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP)’s resource library website?

These modules include guides/notes for trainers, training logistics guidance, fillable/customizable PowerPoint presentations, quizzes, answer keys, grading criteria, diagrams, spreadsheet tools and more. Many training modules can be downloaded as .zip files, and can include word documents, .pdf’s, annotated PowerPoints, spreadsheets, and photos.

Available topics include: Distribution, Operations & Maintenance Planning, Water Loss, Water Quality in Storage Facilities, Wastewater System Safety, Wastewater System Safety, Wastewater Sampling & Preservation, Wastewater Lagoons & Oxidation Ponds, Energy Efficiency for Wastewater Plants, Discharge Monitoring, Chemistry for Water Operators, Principles of Wastewater Disinfection & Chlorination, Basic Hydraulics and Pumps, and more.

For those interested in implementing these trainings, a good first step might be to check out this presentation on best practices in leading workshops. This presentation covers proven engagement and knowledge retention techniques to help you make the most of your time and efforts.

EFCN Offers August Web Training Opportunities

Mapping:  There’s More Than One Way to Show Your Data Electronically

DATE:              Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Register Online

The knowledge you can gain about your system by visualizing data using electronic maps is invaluable. Though developing an electronic mapping program (or making the transition from paper to electronic mapping) can seem daunting and expensive, it may not be not as hard, or as costly, as you think. This webinar will review some of the types of data that can be mapped electronically and review a range of available electronic mapping platforms and data collection options available to you. We will also demonstrate that electronic maps are able to show you much more than simply asset locations.  This information comes from the Southwest Environmental Finance Center at the University of New Mexico.

 

Encouraging Conservation—An In-Depth Look at Non-Pricing Approaches

DATE:              Thursday, August 23, 2018

TIME:               2:00PM-3:00PM EDT

REGISTER:      Register Online

Water systems have a variety of reasons for wanting to encourage conservation, from environmental benefits to limited supply or treatment capacity. This webinar will explore non-pricing strategies that water systems can use to encourage their customers to conserve water. These strategies include water use restrictions, increasing customer information, and reducing real water loss. We will discuss how these approaches impact the system’s ability to cover the full cost of providing safe drinking water today and into the future.  This information comes from the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

EFCN Offers Two New Webinars

1  Understanding Asset Criticality: Reduce Risk and Optimize Operations

DATE:              July 24, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Register Online

Understanding asset criticality can help a utility reduce risks by optimizing operations, planning maintenance tasks and timing, and capital improvements. This webinar will go into detail on the subject of criticality. We will look at multiple types of redundancies, how assets can fail in multiple manners, and how maintenance operations can be improved to take better care of your system’s most critical assets.

Nick Willis, Program Manager at the Environmental Finance Center at Wichita State University, will lead the discussion.

Questions? Contact EFCN at smallsystems@syr.edu

 

2  How to Build Marketing Skills to Gain Support from Water Customers

DATE:              August 9, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Register Online

Water utilities are experts at keeping their work behind the scenes. Water infrastructure is buried in the ground and treatment plants are tucked away in the community. Water magically appears for customers at the turn of a faucet, whenever they need it. Customers rely on this water for health, cleaning, recreation, and life itself. However, very few customers understand the value of clean water service, or the immense amount of resources and around-the-clock work that it takes to make it happen.

It is time for drinking water utilities to take the stage and show customers the value of public water. In this webinar you will learn the importance of marketing and communication to utility customers. Attendees will learn the steps to creating meaningful public engagement, as well as the single most important aspect of gaining customer support.

Wichita State University’s Leslie Kimble, Marketing Coordinator for the Environmental Finance Center, is the presenter.

Questions? Contact EFCN at smallsystems@syr.edu