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This week’s electronic edition has some really interesting articles that cover topics ranging from “safe harbor” legislative proposals to helpful accounting tips for small systems to practical ways to help protect source water.

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EPA to Host Energy Management Webinar for Water Utilities with Spanish Language Interpretation on March 28th

Providing safe drinking water and wastewater treatment requires substantial energy consumption and represents a high cost to the providers of these services. These providers can reduce operating costs and help mitigate the effects of climate change in many ways. The objective of this workshop is to provide drinking water and wastewater utilities with a systematic approach to identify implement, measure, and improve energy efficiency and incorporate sustainable practices into their operations.

On March 28, 2012, from 2 to 4 p.m. Eastern Time, EPA will host an energy efficiency webinar to help utilities reduce operating costs while protecting the environment. The webinar will be presented in English with Spanish language interpretation. To register for the webinar:

Boise State EFC Discusses Asset Inventories

From time to time, ASDWA receives helpful and informative information from our colleagues at Boise State Environmental Finance Center (EFC).  The article below is a good example of the type of work that these good folks take on.  At the end is a note from the EFC Executive Director David Eberle inviting you to get in touch if you have questions or issues that you’d like to see researched.

Asset Inventory: What can it tell you? 

When does a system operator know that an asset just looks like it is going to fall down and when it actually going to fall down? These are questions that system operators need to ask themselves annually, and report their findings to their operating board.  The previous article pictorially presents images of what appear to be assets in distress. However, if it something you see every day it may not even register that the last winter added another set of rust spots along a seam or dry rot has moved from the wall into the roof rafter. It takes a scheduled routine to inspect and record conditions to determine the rate of deterioration.

Why is this important when I know the condition of my assets? Boards do not like surprises, particularly when it is a piece of critical equipment.  Without a written document, it is difficult for a board to remember what they have been told.  Assets may be one of many responsibilities the board is focusing on.  Additionally, boards prefer to plan expenditures, rather than reacting to an unplanned one.

The first step in preparing a report for the board is the inventory of assets.  As the previous article illustrates a simple cell phone camera is a valuable tool in creation an inventory list. Not only is the phone able to take pictures also many smart phones have a GPS application that can record the location of the asset.  As part of any disaster preparedness plan is location of assets is important.  When known landmarks, roads, trees, or signs have been disturbed, it can take valuable time trying to locate critical assets.

Once the location has been identified, a condition scale needs to be assigned to the asset.  There are standard scales, age of asset, number of hours operated, and physical condition. Each year it is the operator’s responsibility to record the change in asset condition and make an estimation of remaining life.  The remaining life will not be linear based on year of installation. Finally, each asset needs to be evaluated on the basis of its function relative to delivery of service.  A shed that falls down will not interrupt service while a pump failure may mean failure of water delivery. On a scale (1 to 10 or 1 to 5) of how critical each asset is to the functioning of the plant, rate the asset. This scale of criticality will inform the board how to prioritize the expenditure list you have developed.

Now you are able to present to the board your opinion of what needs to be replaced and when it should be replaced before it fails. The major repair and maintenance work plan should cover, at a minimum, five years. Larger organizations will have a 20-year capital improvement plan.  Until the process becomes ritual, you can separate the projects that need to be done within the next 24 months and projects that can wait up to 60 months to simplify the plan. Once the first year is completed, successive years are easier. And as asset conditions are updated annually, projects may move between the 24 month and 60 month classification.  This will give your board time to adjust rates, work with their state SRF program and if it is a municipality priority rank how to use their unrestricted funds. These steps also will help the plant operator build a strong working relationship with their board, and improve the plant capacity, reliability and durability.

Do you have a question or an idea for the Environmental Finance Center? Is there a topic you wish us to write on?  We want to hear from you.  Please use the link below to send us topics for research, questions or inquires about how we may be able to help you.

Arsenic and Rads Videos for Small Systems

The Montana Water Center announces the availability of four new, short videos/movies that should be useful tools for small public water systems, TA providers, and state regulators. The films that comprise Treating for Arsenic and Radionuclides: Small Water System Experiences describe how 5 small communities in Montana, Wyoming and Minnesota successfully addressed Arsenic, Radium and Uranium contaminants in their water supplies to comply with EPA regulations. The challenges they surmounted ranged from the need for advanced operators in isolated rural communities, to the effects of first-time chlorination in 90-year-old distribution systems, to concerns with disposing of hazardous waste.

The Montana Water Center is distributing a limited number of Treating for Arsenic and Radionuclides CDs to primacy agencies and technical assistance providers.  Each video is 8 to 12 minutes long.    Others can download the four movies and associated resource files from the Center’s training site at or stream the movies from its YouTube channel:  More information on the videos can also be found on the Water Center website at:

ABC Offers Incentives to Volunteers

ABC is in need of volunteers for the upcoming Water Treatment, Distribution, and Collection Passing Score Studies!   ABC is looking for licensed Water Treatment, Distribution, and Collection Operators to volunteer for an important study that will affect the need to know criteria to obtain a Water, Distribution, and/ or Collection License at all levels.  They are short several necessary volunteers at this point, and are contacting their water colleagues to see if you know of any certified operators willing to participate.

By volunteering and being selected as a participant in the study, the operator will receive a $75 gift card and 0.8 CEUs towards ABC certification, just by being a part of 2 conference calls and taking two tests.

This link will take you to the ABC website and gives an overview of the Passing Score Study and the dates: .

Click here to download the Passing Score Study application.  Please complete and return all pages by March 11, 2012 to or fax to (515) 965-6827.  If you have questions, please contact Holly Merk, ABC Member Services Coordinator, at


The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) has released a new guidebook to assist members of the board of directors or governing body of small, rural drinking water and wastewater systems.

The Big Guide for Small Systems: A Resource for Board Members is a comprehensive guide to the oversight role a board member has in governing a small utility. The guidebook is divided into four sections: water and wastewater treatment basics; regulatory requirements; how boards should conduct their own affairs; and finances. These sections provide detailed descriptions of a board’s responsibilities and duties in these areas.

The guide is part how-to and part desk reference. It is ideal for presenting to new board members as an orientation and background to all aspects of their new roles. Experienced board members will find it useful as a reference for meeting their responsibilities to the community and customers. When used on a group basis with an entire board, it can help set standards for the group’s work together, enabling all members to have a common understanding of the group’s functions. It is written in an easy-to-understand style.

The guide also contains an appendix with many helpful tools that utilities can put to use right away, including: example standard operating procedures; information on hiring and terminating employees along with sample job descriptions for common positions; examples of common policies; tips on emergency-response planning; and much more.

You may view/download the Big Guide for Small Systems at


Nancy Stoner Talks About Workforce

“In his State of the Union Address, President Obama presented a blueprint for an economy built to last – one built on the skills of American workers. The President laid out new ideas for how we’ll make sure our students and workers get the education and training they need so we have a workforce ready to take on the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

This is the beginning paragraph of EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner’s recent article for Greenversations, the Agency’s blog.  Stoner goes on to speak about workforce issues and partnering opportunities.  ASDWA invites you to read more about Stoner’s view on workforce issues at

Blog for YOUR Customers

If you are responsible for either operator certification or capacity development efforts in your state, why not follow Kentucky’s example and create a blog to reach out to your operators – aka, YOUR customers?

Take a look at what Julia Kays has done for her operator certification program.  This is a great way to help reinforce the positive communication and connections that you have with your operators.  Called Operation Matters, the blog was created by Kentucky’s Department for Environmental Protection to communicate with drinking water, wastewater, and solid waste operators across the state. Through this tool the state program provides a variety of information, including job opportunities, updates on regulations, reminders about training events and license renewals, and other information pertinent to industry professionals.

While Julia’s information focuses more on operator certification topics, you can do the same sort of thing for your state’s capacity development program – articles about asset management, sustainability, board training – any of these could be great topics to share.  Prefer to focus on regs?  Tell folks about any new requirements that are getting ready to go into effect; point them to good training sessions; share brief “how to” items on sampling and monitoring protocols.

Getting set up is easy and there’s no “required” number of information posts or subjects or word counts.  It’s just an opportunity to reinforce the good efforts that you undertake every day to help your operators be successful in their public health protection responsibilities.  Using a blog format instead of broadcast emails lets the operators “manage” the number of messages they receive in a day – just like you do.  It also creates a de facto repository where they can go back and look at information again and again.  Want to know more?  Give Julia a shout at