RCAP RELEASES NEW GUIDE TO HELP COMMUNITIES REPORT ON RECOVERY ACT FUNDS

The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) has released a new guidebook designed to assist recipients of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to understand and complete the reporting process required by those funds.

RCAP’s ARRA Registering and Reporting Guide is aimed at communities that have received Recovery Act loans and/or grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Utilities Service.

The guide is intended for use by the leader or staff person of a small community water system who is responsible for registering the utility and reporting on its use of ARRA funds with various federal and related agencies. Users of the guide are walked through the steps of registering for a DUNS number and with Central Contractor Registration, and with registering and using FederalReporting.gov. Most importantly, the step-by-step guide, written in a question-and-answer format, helps small communities and systems comply with the reporting process associated with ARRA funds.

The guide was written by West Virginia RCAP, one of the state programs of the Great Lakes RCAP. Along with being written in a clear and understandable language, the guide includes common mistakes to be avoided that the authors have witnessed in their own communities. In short, it is a tried-and-tested guide written by RCAP staff who have experience in providing assistance to communities that receive funds from USDA-RUS. Although it was written by RCAP staff in one region, the guide applies to borrowers and grant recipients in any part of the United States and territories.

“One key way this guide will assist communities is helping them fulfill the federal government’s request to be transparent when using Recovery Act funds,” said Robert Stewart, RCAP Executive Director. “RCAP wants to help utilities be responsible stewards of the funds they get. This is one aspect of long-term sustainability, which is RCAP’s overall goal for communities.”

The introduction to the guide reads, in part, “The information and tips the authors provide are firmly rooted in the confusing—and often daunting—process that is ARRA reporting. It is the authors’ intention that their tips guide you through the process so that you do not face the same problems they did. Each tip is the result of a problem faced while reporting. Hopefully each tip will mean fewer problems for you.”

The ARRA Registering and Reporting Guide is the first to be published of 11 print resources that RCAP is developing to aid small, rural communities. Each guide is being written and reviewed by field staff who are experts in the subject of the guide they are producing. All guides will be broad enough to apply to most communities across the country, regardless of their location and their state’s rules and regulations. The RCAP national office in Washington, D.C., is responsible for the distribution of these resources, which will complement and support RCAP’s field work in providing in-person, customized assistance through its 150 Technical Assistance Providers.

A list of the other ten guides that will be produced and a description of each is at http://www.rcap.org/commpubs .  The guidebooks are being funded thanks to a $5 million grant of ARRA funds secured by RCAP and furnished by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development.

All communities receiving ARRA loans or grants will receive a free copy of the guide from RCAP by mail in early March. Communities can also obtain the guide as a PDF on the RCAP website at http://www.rcap.org/commpubs. Communities can view it there and download and save a copy on their own computers.

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For more information, contact Stephen Padre, Director of Communications: 202/470-2808; spadre@rcap.org.

 

EPA Posts Webinar Calendar for 2011

Each year, EPA’s Drinking Water Protection Branch puts on a variety of webinars covering topics from Regulations to CUPSS to Expense Reimbursement Grants.  During 2011, they are planning to hold around 25 webinars.  EPA has listed the available webinars below and invites you to register for those that you would like to attend.  All webinars are confirmed except for those otherwise noted; however, to ensure there are no changes, please confirm your webinar with the Drinking Water Academy at www.water.epa.gov/learn/training/dwatraining/calendar.cfm within six weeks of the presentation date.  For more specific questions about each webinar, please contact the appropriate staff, as indicated on the training list.  If there are other topics that you feel would be important for our branch to train on during 2011, please don’t hesitate to contact Mindy Eisenberg, Acting Chief, Drinking Water Protection Branch at Eisenberg.Mindy@epamail.epa.gov .

January 2011

19 Ground Water Rule with National Rural Water Association

Contact: Mike Finn (finn.michael@epa.gov)

Registration: nrwa.org

Time: 12:00PM – 2:00PM ET

February 2011

15 CUPSS Train-the-Trainer Webinar Series (#1)

Contact: Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Sonia Brubaker (brubaker.sonia@epa.gov)

Registration: Register Here

Time: 1:00 – 3:30PM ET

22 CUPSS Train-the-Trainer Webinar

Contact: Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Sonia Brubaker (brubaker.sonia@epa.gov)

Registration: Register Here

Time: 1:00 – 3:30PM ET

23 Simultaneous Compliance Webinar

Contact: Francine St. Denis (stdenis.francis@epa.gov)

Registration: Register Here

Time: 1:00 – 3:00PM ET

March 2011

1 CUPSS Train-the-Trainer Webinar Series (#3)

Contact: Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Sonia Brubaker (brubaker.sonia@epa.gov)

Registration: Register Here

Time: 1:00 – 3:30PM ET

3 Public Notification/ Consumer Confidence Report Webinar

Contact: Maura Browning (browning.maura@epa.gov)

Registration: Register Here

Time: 1:00 – 3:00 PM ET

8 Ultraviolet Disinfection Webinar

Contact: Mike Finn (finn.michael@epa.gov)

Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Registration: Register Here

Time: 1:00 – 3:00PM ET

29 CUPSS Trainer Network Call

Contact: Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Sonia Brubaker (brubaker.sonia@epa.gov)

Registration: Register Here

Time: 2:00 – 3:30PM ET

April 2011

13 Asset Management 101 for Systems

Contact: Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Sonia Brubaker (brubaker.sonia@epa.gov)

Registration: Register Here

Time: 1:30 – 3:30PM ET

May 2011

4 Small System Perspective on Taste and Odor Control

Contact: Francine St. Denis (st-denis.francine@epa.gov)

Registration: Needed

Time: 1:00-3:00 PM ET

17 CUPSS Trainer Network Call

Contact: Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Sonia Brubaker (brubaker.sonia@epa.gov)

Registration: Register Here

Time: 2:00 – 3:30PM ET

June 2011

3 CUPSS Train-the-Trainer Webinar Series (#3)

Contact: Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Sonia Brubaker (brubaker.sonia@epa.gov)

Registration: Needed

Time: 1:00 – 3:00PM ET

10 CUPSS Train-the-Trainer Webinar Series (#3)

Contact: Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Sonia Brubaker (brubaker.sonia@epa.gov)

Registration: Needed

Time: 1:00 – 3:00PM ET

17 CUPSS Train-the-Trainer Webinar Series (#3)

Contact: Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Sonia Brubaker (brubaker.sonia@epa.gov)

Registration: Needed

Time: 1:00 – 3:00PM ET

July 2011

13 Asset Management 101  for States

Contact: Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Sonia Brubaker (brubaker.sonia@epa.gov)

Registration: Needed

Time: 1:30 – 3:30PM ET

19 CUPSS Trainers’ Network Call (#4)

Contact: Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Sonia Brubaker (brubaker.sonia@epa.gov)

Registration: Needed

Time: 2:00 – 3:30PM ET

Consecutive Systems

Contact: Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Mike Finn (finn.michael@epa.gov)

Registration: Needed

Time: TBD

August 2011

10 Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule (DBPR), Subpart V

Requirements  Pending Confirmation

Contact: Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Registration: Needed

Time: 1:00 – 3:00PM ET

24 Water System Partnerships (Basic) Pending Confirmation

Contact: Allison Watanabe (watanabe.allison@epa.gov)

Registration: Needed

Time: 1:00 – 2:00PM ET

September 2011

15 CUPSS Train-the-Trainer Webinar Series (#1)

Contact: Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Sonia Brubaker (brubaker.sonia@epa.gov)

Registration: Needed

Time: 1:00 – 3:00PM ET

22 CUPSS Train-the-Trainer Webinar Series (#2)

Contact: Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Sonia Brubaker (brubaker.sonia@epa.gov)

Registration: Needed

Time: 1:00 – 3:00PM ET

29 CUPSS Train-the-Trainer Webinar Series (#3)

Contact: Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)

Sonia Brubaker (brubaker.sonia@epa.gov)

Registration: Needed

Time: 1:00 – 3:00PM ET

October 2011

26 Water System Partnerships (Basic) Pending Confirmation

Contact: Allison Watanabe (watanabe.allison@epa.gov)

Registration: Needed

Time: 1:00 – 2:00PM ET

In addition to the above dates, EPA is also planning webinars on the following topics:

¨       Using the CapCert Connections forum and blog to enhance program collaboration

¨       Taste and Odor:  What small water systems can do to address taste and odor issues in their distribution systems

¨       EPA’s New optimal corrosion control guidance and template to assist states in setting optimal water quality parameters for water systems

ABC Computer-Based Testing Webinar

Don’t forget…

The Association of Boards of Certification will be offering a Computer-Based Testing (CBT) Webinar on February 23, 2011 at 12:30 p.m. Central. The webinar will be led by Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP). AMP has been ABC’s nationwide CBT partner since 2005.

The webinar will discuss the secure, convenient CBT option. This will guide your program on how to utilize a paperless testing option that could save your program valuable time, resources and offer another way to ensure the security of your exams.

For more information in regards to the Computer-Based Testing Webinar, please contact Sheena Kennedy, skennedy@abccert.org. If you are interested in registering for the webinar, please fill out the following survey

RCAP Designing New Small Community Guides

The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) is in the process of developing 11 new informational guides designed to support small community needs related to water and wastewater issues.  Topics areas to be covered in the guides range from how to develop a water or sewer project to how to evaluate rate structures, follow an asset management plan, and explain water and wastewater operations from “non-operator” perspective.  These materials are based on products in development by the various Regional RCAP organizations.  National RCAP expects to have all of these guides ready for publication during 2011.  For more specific information about each of the guides, please go to:   www.rcap.org/commpubs

EPA Creates New Workgroup on Partnerships

Though the topic of Restructuring (now “Water System Partnerships”) was not chosen as one of the three main workgroups coming out of the 2010 National Capacity Development and Operator Certification Workshop, there was enough interest in the topic to start a small workgroup to examine how to address challenges facing those working in this area and to determine how to support these efforts.

Water System Partnerships- Allison Watanabe (watanabe.allison@epa.gov) and Maria Lopez-Carbo (lopez-carbo.maria@epa.gov) This workgroup will focus on partnership opportunities beyond traditional restructuring practices, such as consolidation, that systems can benefit from if they lack short- or long-term capacity.  For this reason, the workgroup decided to change the name to Water System Partnerships.  This year, the workgroup will focus on raising awareness about Water System Partnerships among TA providers and state and federal agencies; identifying barriers and solutions to partnerships. The workgroup will help develop two trainings:  basic (defining Water System Partnerships and the range of partnership options) and  advanced (for those that are regularly involved in this type of work). The workgroup is currently developing best practices and stakeholder roles and responsibilities.

Tackling Ongoing Challenges for Sustainability

EPA’s Sustainable Systems Team provides the following update…

The National Capacity Development and Operator Certification Workshop in September 2010 and the Capacity Development Re-Energizing Workgroup have generated a lot of enthusiasm for working collaboratively to tackle ongoing challenges that we face in achieving sustainable water systems.  Three new EPA-state workgroups have been formed for the 2011 calendar year.  The goal of the workgroups is to develop strong outcomes based on projects that the participants have voted on as priority issues.  These groups will also work to increase the collaboration between Operator Certification and Capacity Development.  Stay tuned for information about additional workgroups that are forming as a result of these collaborative initiatives!

EPA invites you to become a workgroup member if you are not already. If you have questions about a particular group or would like to be added to the mailing list, please contact one of the EPA Headquarters Contacts (in bold next to the workgroup name).

Managerial Capacity- Sonia Brubaker (brubaker.sonia@epa.gov) and Adrienne Harris (harris.adrienne@epa.gov)  The Managerial Capacity workgroup will focus on three main issues to help increase the understanding and implementation of managerial capacity:  1) Measuring Managerial Capacity, 2) Asset Management, and 3) Board Member and Owner Training.  The workgroup is in the process of sharing indicators and approaches that are currently being used by states and technical assistance providers to assess managerial capacity.  These indicators were grouped into categories based on how commonly they are used across different states, shaping a discussion of the different approaches that states use in using managerial capacity indicators for different purposes.  These purposes ranged from system self-assessments, to DWSRF capacity assessments, to state baseline trends, to identifying technical assistance needs. The workgroup will look at ways to synthesize this information into a useful compilation that will be available to regional and state capacity development coordinators.

Program Collaboration- Steve Hogye (hogye.stephen@epa.gov) and Maria Lopez-Carbo (lopez-carbo.maria@epa.gov)  The goal of the Collaboration workgroup is to identify reasonable opportunities for better integration among the state and federal PWSS programs.  These opportunities should not add a large burden to ever-increasing workloads, but be relatively simple for program managers to implement in order to attain program goals during a time of rapidly diminishing resources.  The workgroup proposes to attain this goal by:  1) Identifying opportunities for collaboration among the drinking water programs that are easy to implement, 2) Explaining how synergy can be realized through program collaboration and 3) Explaining how collaboration can help attain multiple program objectives with fewer resources and staff time. The workgroup has a big task ahead of them but is looking forward to ASDWA’s Member Meeting in March to expand the discussions to include perspectives from the State Administrators.

Workforce/Operator Certification- Allison Watanabe (watanabe.allison@epa.gov) and Meghan Klasic (klasic.meghan@epa.gov)  The goal of the Workforce/Operator Certification workgroup is to support and strengthen Operator Certification programs in order to maintain a robust and knowledgeable workforce that can ensure continued delivery of safe drinking water to the public and promote water system sustainability. The group voted on three topics to tackle during 2011:  1) Develop a regional overview of operator certification training/education plans/programs for states; EPA HQ will act as a clearinghouse to share information across the country, 2) Share internship and mentorship programs, and 3) Address recruitment and retention issues.  Each workgroup meeting will include a showcased state workforce program or activity. Our first spotlight was on Chip Mackey (NH) who discussed the New England Water Works Association Operator Certification Committee’s work on examining and developing concrete roles for different stakeholder groups (utilities, the state, associations, and EPA) to strengthen recruitment of a future workforce.

EPA Publishes New Water Loss Tool

Just a reminder…

As ASDWA reported in January, EPA’s Drinking Water Protection Division has been working to create a new publication titled Control and Mitigation of Drinking Water Losses in Distribution Systems. This new document is now available and ready for you to use!

The document focuses on how public water systems must balance the uses of resources to “…address the financial and personnel demands of economic restrictions, water availability, population and climate changes, regulatory requirements, operational costs, and public and environmental stewardship.”  Simply stated, “water is a commodity that is produced by a PWS; therefore, lost or unaccounted-for water can be equated to lost or unaccounted-for revenue.  A water loss control program can help to locate and reduce these water losses and thus maintain or increase revenue…A water loss control program will also protect public health through reduction in potential entry points of disease-causing pathogens.”  The document goes on to describe the components of a water loss program and walks through the processes for a water audit, an intervention, and evaluation.

While the document may appear overwhelming for some smaller systems, state program staff and TA providers should be able to extract useful nuggets and design components that would work well in helping smaller systems understand the economic value and public health benefit of controlling their water loss.  Other smaller systems should be able to use the document on their own.  The language is reasonably straightforward and the graphics are helpful.  States are encouraged to share this document with systems and TA providers alike, as appropriate.

The document is available for download from the EPA Small Systems “Technical Help” webpage in the section titled “Use Effective Tools to Increase Efficiency.”  The link is http://water.epa.gov/type/drink/pws/smallsystems/technical_help.cfm and the document number is EPA 816-R-10-019.

 

PWS Use of Asset Management and Emergency Response Plans

In December 2010, Julie Smoak, the Capacity Development Coordinator for Kentucky Department for the Environment asked if ASDWA would help gather information about state program requirements and efforts relative to asset management plans and emergency response plans for PWSs.  State capacity development program coordinators were invited to respond to three questions and provide additional information and comments as appropriate.

30 states (including Kentucky) and the Navajo Nation responded to the information request (AL, AK, AZ, AR, CT, DE, FL, IA, KS, KY,LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NC, OH, OK, RI, SC, SD, UT, VA, WA, AND WV).

Below is a numeric summary of the responses:

1.  Does your state have a regulatory requirement for PWSs to have an Asset Management Plan?

YES __2__                    NO __29__

2.  Does your state have a regulatory requirement for PWSs to have an Emergency Response Plan?

YES _19__                    NO __12__

3.  Regardless of regulatory requirements, do you provide any guidance documents for these plans?

YES _16__                    NO _15__ (for Asset Management Plans)

YES _23__                    NO __8__ (for Emergency Response Plans)

Some interesting comments were also offered by state program staff.  Most suggest that states are working hard to meet the needs of their systems through technical support and guidance nearly as often as through regulation.  For example, MA is developing asset management guidance and promoting CUPSS for small systems; Florida is not developing its own ERP Guidance but does reference the AWWA M19 Manual on emergency planning; and Delaware works through its capacity development program and DE Rural Water to encourage systems to have both asset management and emergency response plans.  New Jersey takes advantage of the EPA STEP Guides on asset management.  West Virginia provides asset management information to water systems regardless of whether they are seeking SRF funding and, in some cases, they also provide onsite assistance with the CUPSS program.  Washington, on the other hand, has specific guidance for financial viability and emergency response.  They also offer general planning guidance for comprehensive plans.  North Carolina notes that two of their state funders (CWSRF and a state fund for water and wastewater) have begun to award “points” for systems that have an asset management plan.  This is not required for the drinking water program, but they are interested in tracking the outcomes from the other two programs.

Thanks to Kentucky for asking such interesting questions and to all of the states who responded to the Kentucky request!

 

ABC Offers Computer-Based Testing Webinar

The Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) is hosting a webinar to be lead by Applied Measurement Professionals to discuss the secure, convenient computer-based testing (CBT) option.  You are invited to learn how utilizing a paperless testing option could save your program valuable time, resources, and ensure the security of your exams.

The webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, February 23 (1:30-2:30pm eastern).

For more information about this event, please contact ABC at abc@abccert.org .

 

ASDWA Launches CapCertConnections

ASDWA is very pleased to launch CapCertConnections – a news blog for state drinking water program capacity development and operator certification coordinators.  Our goal is to share timely, informative articles designed to help make your efforts easier to accomplish; give you insights into what your fellow states are working on; and keep you up to date with meetings, workshops, and other plan-ahead events.