“How To” Reminder for CapCert Discussion Forum

Still unsure how to get to the ASDWA CapCert Connections Discussion Forum?  Here’s a quick thumbnail refresher for state and EPA staff with responsibilities for capacity development and/or operator certification…
Where to Find It:  Go to www.asdwa.org and login with your ASDWA user name and password – if you cannot remember what they are, contact Anthony DeRosa at aderosa@asdwa.org.  He can help fill in those memory gaps!  He does it for me all the time!
Then What?  Upon login you’ll be redirected to the CapCert Connections page.  From there, click the first graphic-link [under CapCert Connections Quick Links] to go to the Discussion Forums.  Note:  if you were already logged in when you got to  www.asdwa.org, simply use the top navigation to go to the Forum [there’s a button in the top navigation].  When you get into the forums, under CapCert Connections Community, select the category called “CapCert Connections: Community Forum”.  You should see a list of ongoing discussions there.
To Start a New Discussion Topic:  Press “new topic” from the navigation bar at the top right of the page [should be the first link].  When you press “new topic” a pop-up window will open up.  This is where you compose your question.  Once you’ve finished composing your message, press “Post Message”.  The page will refresh and you should see your question with the others.
To Participate in an Ongoing Discussion:  Simply press “reply” at the bottom right of the latest comment.
Still Unsure How to Make This Work?  ASDWA has posted a video of the “walk through” webinar that was held in early June.  The webinar covered not only the discussion forum, but also the resource library, the blog, and a calendar of events relating to cap dev and op cert activities.  You can walk through again – step by step – at  www.asdwa.org/capcertvideos.
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RCAP Produces Two New Guides to Help Lay Audiences Understand Technical Aspects of Water Systems

The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) has produced two new guidebooks that explain the technical aspects of drinking water and wastewater systems to non-technical audiences using everyday language.

RCAP’s A Drop of Knowledge: The Non-operator’s Guide to Drinking Water Systems and A Drop of Knowledge: The Non-operator’s Guide to Wastewater Systems were written for people who have a role or interest in their community’s water systems but not the technical knowledge or skills of a system operator.  The guides are ideal for board members of utilities in small communities, elected leaders with oversight of a water system, or any decision-maker who is involved in a water system.  Designed to be used separately or together as companion pieces, the guides can be used as an orientation to new leaders or as background for long-time leaders.

The premise of the guides is that informed leaders make better decisions.  Most leaders of small-community water systems do not come to their positions, either as elected officials or as concerned residents, with the technical knowledge of a certified water operator.  In addition, in most small-community water systems, leaders are at least one step removed from the tasks that their system’s operator carries out daily.  Leaders are expected to oversee all of the activities that go on in a system, and these guides provide an overview of the technical aspects so that informed decisions can be made on the maintenance or development of the physical parts of a system.

“A key way that RCAP assists communities is helping leaders of water systems develop their skills at managing their utility,” said Robert Stewart, RCAP Executive Director.  “Making wise, informed decisions with a view of the long-term is integral to sustainability, which is RCAP’s overall goal for communities.”

In addition to explaining the technical, biological or chemical processes that happen in treating drinking water or wastewater, the guides include many diagrams and photographs that show common parts of a water system. The key sections of the guides walk readers through the steps of producing drinking water from source to tap and of treating wastewater from a home through discharge.

Both guides were written on behalf of RCAP by the National Environmental Services Center (NESC) at West Virginia University, a longtime partner of RCAP.  NESC has more than 30 years of experience in providing environmental services and producing technical publications for small communities.  The guidebooks are being funded as part of a $5 million grant of ARRA funds secured by RCAP and furnished by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development in 2010.

The main distribution of the guides is through the field staff of RCAP’s regional partners.  However, communities can also obtain the guides as PDFs on the RCAP website at www.rcap.org/commpubs.  Communities can view the guides, download and save a copy on their own computers, or print the guides themselves from that URL.

These two guides are among 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 final production 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 nine guides that will be produced and a description of each is also at www.rcap.org/commpubs.

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

RCAP on the Radio

ASDWA has learned that our RCAP partners are going “live!”  They have decided to reach out via community radio to encourage interest in taking up water and wastewater operations as a profession.  The kick off program will broadcast on Thursday, June 30 from 9-9:30AM (Mountain) on KGNU community radio.  Read below for more information from Joy Barrett, the RCAP  Director for Training and Technical Services…

“I’m excited to let you know that there will be a radio program dedicated to the issue of water and wastewater operations professions.  We’ll cover background, including protection of public health and the environment, workforce shortages, opportunities, a typical day, how people get skills and credentials, and training and certification resources.  Speakers will include Lori Moore of CDPHE, Joe Cowan of City of Boulder, and Laura Travis of RCAP.

The program will be broadcast live this coming Thursday, June 30, 9:00 – 9:30 a.m. MDT, on KGNU.  You can catch us by tuning in to 88.5 fm, 1390 am, or www.kgnu.org.  If you miss the program but want to hear it, go to the KGNU web site where you can find the program in the archives for at least a couple of weeks.”

Joy, in a separate message, invited all RCAP managers and trainers to listen in via the web and to consider hosting similar broadcasts on community media in their own areas.   Joy also highlighted that “…one of the points we’ll be stressing is that water and wastewater professions are the ultimate green job!”

So, if you have time on Thursday morning, check out RCAP on the Radio – and consider whether this could be a viable outreach option for your state as well!  Meanwhile, CONGRATS to the RCAP folks for thinking outside the box to share the positive message about the water and wastewater operator profession!

Webinar – Green Infrastructure for Small Systems

Our colleagues at SmallWaterSupply.org have alerted us about an upcoming (free) webinar (Wednesday, June 29) that will look at green infrastructure uses in two small communities.  David Shelton (Professor in Biological Systems Engineering and Extension Agricultural Engineer; University of Nebraska) will speak about the City of Wayne, Nebraska’s work and Matt Durand (Storm Water Manager) will discuss the City of Owatonna, Minnesota’s green infrastructure implementation.

The speakers will address the following topics:

●  Why should a small, rural community implement green infrastructure practices?

●  How were your project(s) funded/implemented?

●  Were there cost savings or other benefits?

●  Were any of the projects required because of ordinances or have any ordinances been developed since implementing green infrastructure projects?

●  What lessons were learned?  What advice do you have for other communities?

This webinar is sponsored by the Kansas Small Business Environmental Assistance Program through Kansas State University.  Although there is no cost to participate in this webinar, you must register in advance at:  https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/983505806.  To learn more about the Environmental Assistance Program at KSU, go to http://www.sbeap.org/.

 

Water We Drink Website Has New Articles

The Water We Drink: Small Community Outreach Campaign, which offers information about maintaining safe, sustainable, and secure water supplies in small and rural communities, has added two new articles to its website – Planning Ahead Improves Water and Wastewater Service and Roadmap to the Future:  Capital Improvements Planning for Small Water Systems.

The website, located at www.nesc.wvu.edu/waterwedrink, is a joint effort by the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) and the National Environmental Services Center (NESC), located at West Virginia University, and is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

These new articles complement earlier work on topics such as source water protection, setting water and sewer rates, pharmaceuticals and personal care products in our waters, impending labor shortages, water and energy, and aging infrastructure.  The articles are written especially for those who oversee local water and wastewater services, and may be downloaded at no charge and used for educational purposes, such as reprinting in newsletters and magazines, training sessions, and websites.  Two additional articles will be posted later this summer addressing financial accounting for small water systems and protecting drinking water sources from the impacts of natural gas hydraulic fracturing and other potentially detrimental activities.

According to RCAP’s Director of Training and Technical Services Joy Barrett, Ph.D., the unifying message in each of the articles is that local leadership is essential in protecting water resources and maintaining water and wastewater services, and that there are practical options for ensuring a system’s short- and long-term viability.  The two planning articles just posted discuss strategies for developing long-term and capital improvement plans that can help a system improve its financial condition, operations, and sustainability.

Community-Based Water Resiliency (CBWR) Electronic Tool Now Available for Download

Editor’s Note:  Although this tool was designed under the water security umbrella, it can be very helpful for smaller communities to use.  It asks basic questions about a water system’s preparedness – rooted in their technical, financial, and managerial capabilities – for an emergency.  Please take a look and share with your water systems.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released the Community-Based Water Resiliency electronic tool. The CBWR electronic
tool is an easy way to assess your current resiliency to water service interruptions and learn about tools and resources to enhance resiliency
in your community. This tool was developed in collaboration with stakeholders from the community and includes over 350 resources.
The CBWR electronic tool  is available at: 
http://yosemite.epa.gov/ow/SReg.nsf/description/CBWR_e-tool

Additional information on the Community-Based Water Resiliency Initiative can be found at 

http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/watersecurity/communities/index.cfm.

ABC Call for Papers – 40th Anniversary in Tampa, FL

The Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) will host its 25th Annual Conference, Excellence & Innovation: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, Jan. 17-20, 2012, in Tampa, Fla.  The conference will invite program members, industry stakeholders, EPA representatives and leaders in the field of environmental certification to join ABC in marking its 40th birthday, honor numerous industry advancements, and plan for the Association’s next 40 years.

ABC’s Annual Conference Committee announces its Call for Presentations for the conference technical program which serves as a format for collaboration and information exchange among certifiers. The deadline to submit a presentation application for consideration is July 1.

Please contact ABC staff at conference@abccert.org for more information.  You may also click the following links to download a call for presentations application or learn more about ABCs 25th Annual Conference. ABC looks forward to welcoming you to Tampa!

Visit CapCertConnections Discussion Forum

The ASDWA CapCertConnections Discussion Forum is up and running!

If you are a state capacity development or operator certification coordinator, or if your are an EPA Regional coordinator for these programs, you have been invited to participate in this new communications tool to discuss issues of interest to states in their work with small drinking water systems.

In fact, the discussion topic described below was posted earlier this morning…please provide whatever input you may have available.  If you cannot remember how to access the discussion forum (and your are a state or EPA staffer with responsibilities in either of these programs) just contact Anthony DeRosa aderosa@asdwa.org for assistance.

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Workforce / Operator Certification Workgroup – Sharing Internship and Mentoring Program Information

A well-trained and knowledgeable workforce is essential to protecting public health by ensuring safe drinking water and wastewater management.  Predicted losses to the water and wastewater workforce caused by baby boomer retirements raises concern over this essential workforce’s continued viability.  In a 2005 report titled, Succession Planning for a Vital Workforce in the Information Age, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the Awwa Research Foundation projected that 37% of water utility workers and 32% of wastewater utility workers will be eligible to retire in the next 10 years.   In addition, DOL estimates that the need for water and wastewater operators will increase by 20% from 2008-2018.

The Workforce/Operator Certification Workgroup (consisting of states, EPA and TA providers) was formed in part to address the challenge of maintaining a robust and knowledgeable workforce.   As part of this effort, the Workgroup is promoting sharing information about internship and mentoring programs by developing fact sheets (ModelMaine) about different types of programs and sharing them across the country.  As a first step, the group would like your help to identify the programs in your states.  

1) Quick description about the program (3-4 sentences including: title, location, and additional details as available)

2) Program contact information (for follow-up questions as necessary)

Please Post Your Reply on the ASDWA CapCert Connections Forum

 Additional Information and Definitions

This is our initial effort to gather information about these programs, so we do not want to limit the scope too much. If you feel that there is a program that we should know about, please don’t hesitate to include it.

Internship Program:  a program that build skills towards gaining an operator license and includes hours of work experience for licensure.

Mentoring Program: a formal program that measurably enhances the skills of the existing workforce.

Internship and Mentoring programs take a variety of approaches:

  • They may be state-led, or they may be industry-led (e.g., State or  AWWA)
  • Some programs focus on bringing new people into the program to become operators.  (This may be a type of operator-in-training program)
  • Some programs may be intensive training/mentoring for experienced operators
  • Some programs are apprenticeships with the Department of Labor.
  • Programs may be funded by the state  or industry or other entity (e.g., Department of Labor)

 

 

 

 

 

 

EPA Hosts Water & Wastewater Infrastructure O&M and Management Training for Tribal Operators and Leaders

From June to October 2011, EPA will be sponsoring a series of in-person training workshops for federally recognized tribes and Alaskan Native Villages across the country to help increase participants’ skills and knowledge in the operation of wastewater and drinking water treatment systems.  The training is intended for water system operators, wastewater system operators, tribal utility managers, tribal council members and leaders involved with water utility management.

While there is no registration fee for the workshops, there is a cap of 50 participants at each session, and tribes and Alaskan Native Villages that received 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds will be given registration priority.  Travel, hotel, and per diem costs for attendees from tribal reservations may be covered by a participant’s local Indian Health Service (IHS) Area office.  Participants can contact their local IHS office for additional details.

The first training workshop will be in Seattle, June 21-23, 2011.  Registration is open until 24 hours prior to the workshop. Early registration is encouraged.  For more information, including how to register, please go to:  http://water.epa.gov/learn/training/tribaltraining/tcourse7_2011.cfm.

For questions about the training, please contact Leon Latino by e-mail at latino.leon@epa.gov or by phone at 202-564-1997; or Matthew Richardson by e-mail at richardson.matthew@epa.gov or by phone at 202 564-2947.

More About Restructuring and Sustainability

As you read through the information below, it may sound familiar to some of you…and that’s because it is!

 This is a reprint of an article that Steve Wilson wrote for SmallWaterSupply.org more than a year ago.  So why is ASDWA publishing it again in CapCert Connections?  Two reasons:  1) It’s a really good article that has lots of useful and timely (or should that be timeless?) information about how we consider the process of “restructuring” that is now called water system partnership, and 2) to remind you that CapCert Connections now has an RSS feed for SmallWaterSupply.org.  This means that you can go to this useful site at any time to see what they have posted as the latest and greatest small system “good stuff.”  So, keep reading!

“Restructuring, consolidation, and sustainability aren’t anything new.  Recently though, there has been more talk about these issues as the industry begins to focus more efforts on small systems and increasing overall compliance rates for public water supplies.
Sustainability
Sustainability is the hot buzz word these days, but what does it mean?  It’s much more than being able to run your water supply in the black.  It means developing a business plan for the long term, planning now for the large infrastructure upgrade you will need in 25 years, being prepared for changes in the rules or when an emergency arises, and making plans for staffing and knowledge retention, should you leave or retire.  It means a lot of work, but for those who practice it, they will tell you it’s rewarding work and knowing you are taking care of your future is a great feeling.
Sounds Like A Lot Of Gloom And Doom
When you are already frustrated at the expectations put on you to maintain a water supply, talk of sustainability seems like it must be for someone else.  Not so. No matter how big or small your system is, there are things you can do to improve sustainability.  And if you only implement one change, that’s still progress that you can see and measure.  If you are part of a homeowners association, it could be finding that neighbor who cares enough to learn what you do, so there is someone to back you up when needed.  For a small community supply, maybe it’s developing relationships with customers and your town board, and educating them on what’s needed to ensure the system is viable in 20 years.  In all of these cases, being informed yourself helps a lot, and enlisting the help of local TA providers to support your efforts is key.
Ask For Support
There are a number of TA providers who can work with you to understand what it will take to start down this road.  If you are a member of an operators association, start there.  If not, talk to your state regulatory people about other TA providers that can assist you.  Rural water associations, RCAP affiliates, AWWA affiliates, EFC’s, TAC’s, NESC, and others, are all interested in supporting your efforts to maintain and develop your water supplies.  You can also contact us, and we will find someone local to help you.
There Are Some Good Materials Available
I searched our documents database, using the word “consolidation” in the keyword search and here are the most relevant ones that you should take a look at:
1. KRWA article that is a must read, with state examples 4 pages
2. Great Report from SE-TAC on Pros, Cons, Options, Considerations 24 pages
7. The Technical Paper that #3 is based on 35 pages
Lastly, there is an interesting marketing report from 2003 that really does a great job of summarizing the issues raised about small supplies infrastructure needs, what the cost will be nationally over the next 20 years, and what the USEPA was discussing about sustainability of water supplies in 2003.  One thing it points out is that 86% of small supplies are within 5 miles of another supply and that by itself suggests that small systems have an opportunity to develop agreements to share resources.  At a minimum, this will help small supplies achieve the economies of scale that will support their being sustainable.”