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.

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