NRWA Offers Utility Management Certification Program

The National Rural Water Association has created a new Utility Management Certification (UMC) program under the auspices of their Water University.  The UMC program is “…designed to recognize the professional educational achievements of individuals and to market their achievements and skills to increase the value of today’s utility manager.”  The hope is that through the UMC process, there will be greater recognition for experience and educational achievements in water and wastewater management.

According to the NRWA website, “State rural water associations—who are the trainers of the industry and train approximately 100,000 personnel each year—will administer the certification program as a satellite of Water University. This partnership provides an added local state dimension of the value to the certification designation. The overall goal is to provide recognition that ultimately makes certification holders more hirable, more promotable and more valued.  The UMC is a career investment that will reap many returns as the industry raises the bar of management excellence.”

To learn more about the NRWA Utility Management Certification program including a brochure and study guide and the Water University, please go to http://www.wateruniversity.org/certification.aspx.

EPA Publishes State Collaboration Success Stories

In 2011 and the early months of 2012, EPA and state drinking water programs participated in a “collaboration” workgroup to identify new ways of thinking about how states can leverage the reach of their capacity development programs to provide greater support for small public water systems.  This effort was an outgrowth of the 2010 EPA Reenergizing Capacity Development initiative.

This week, EPA has posted the workgroup’s products – a series of fact sheets that feature “practical opportunities for better integration” as well as internal and external collaboration within the drinking water program, with other state agencies, and among state programs and their partner organizations.  You may download the fact sheets at: http://water.epa.gov/type/drink/pws/smallsystems/state_guidance.cfm#state

Success stories from 19 different states (AZ, CA, CO, IA, KS, KY, ME, MD, MN, MS, MO, NH, NV, OH, PA, RI, SD, TX, and WA) discuss collaborative efforts that focus on internal/external program teaming options, innovative and coordinated funding streams, and partnering opportunities between capacity development and operator certification programs.  Each focus area contains different approaches (or models) used by state drinking water programs to identify particular challenges, find and implement solutions to those challenges, and demonstrate success.

You may use the link above to browse and download these and other EPA products that support small system needs, or you may click the titles below to review the fact sheets by specific focus area:

Washington State Focuses on DWSRF Opportunities

The Washington State Department of Health publishes an online newsletter for its water systems.  This month, the focus is on the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF)…how it works…how to apply…how much money is available from which source…how to ask for help…and how to get CEUs for learning more!  ASDWA believes that this approach is exceptionally helpful for smaller communities who may find the whole process intimidating.  Think about whether your state or organization could share similar types of information with your small systems to help them take that first step toward sustainability!

 


$100 million available for drinking water infrastrusture

The DWSRF Program can help finance capital construction costs to improve water quality for your consumers and your compliance with drinking water regulations. The program provides low-interest loans.  Read more

 

Free application workshops

Attend a free application workshop to learn about the DWSRF Program and get technical assistance on your loan application. Four dates and locations available.

 

 

DWSRF Facts

 

Should you apply? Get the facts about eligibility requirements, loan fees, water system plan requirements, retroactive financing, and what type of application to submit.  Read more

 

Grant and loan programs for water and wastewater projects

A list of grant and loan programs, eligible projects and applicants, available funding, and application information. Begins on page 4

 

Educational opportunities

The Environmental Finance Center and EPA offer web-based training.You can earn 0.6 CEU by attending a small water system sustainability workshop. Read more

Support for rural communities

The Rural Community Assistance Corporation has grants and contracts with state and federal agencies that allow its Washington staff to provide technical assistance to communities with the greatest need. Free to communities that meet funding requirements. Read more

 

Need help? Call a circuit rider!

Evergreen Rural Water of Washington has circuit riders that help water systems evaluate and eliminate potential health and environmental problems. Eligible systems can get help with operations and maintenance, treatment, compliance, construction, financial management, general management and board training. Read more

 

RCAP Creates and Shares Water Recruitment Brochures

Our colleagues at RCAP (Rural Community Assistance Partnership) have recently produced brochures to recruit people into the water and wastewater operations field.  These materials are part of a larger RCAP recruitment and training effort that involves collaboration with community colleges.

Here are URLs for the recruitment brochures.  Note that RCAP has included both a “screen-friendly” and printer-friendly version for each brochure.  When printed, the text is laid out for a 3-fold format.

At RCAP’s suggestion, you are invited and encouraged to print and distribute these brochures within your community and to forward the links to your colleagues who may not be aware of this offer.

Drinking Water Brochure:

http://www.rcap.org/sites/default/files/resource_attachments/water_operator_careers.pdf

http://www.rcap.org/sites/default/files/resource_attachments/water_operator_careers_-_printer-friendly.pdf

Wastewater Brochure:

http://www.rcap.org/sites/default/files/resource_attachments/wastewater_operator_careers.pdf

http://www.rcap.org/sites/default/files/resource_attachments/wastewater_operator_careers_-_printer-friendly.pdf

Our thanks to RCAP for sharing these helpful tools as we strive to manage our individual and collective workforce issues!

How to Prepare for the Sanitary Survey

From our friends at SmallWaterSupply.org, we have learned that our Kentucky Operator Certification Program colleagues have recently posted some very helpful recommendations on how to prepare for a sanitary survey.    Please read on to see how one state promotes sanitary surveys as a benefit to drinking water systems, as a way to help operators do a better job, and to give them much needed tools when they have to ask for funds to keep the system in good running order.  While your state may ask for other items during a sanitary survey, these recommendations are a good plan for any system to follow to make sure that they are well prepared to protect public health.

Some water treatment plant operators are nervous and fearful every day of the dreaded “people from the state” showing up at their facility. A lot of you have learned over the years that the “state” showing up is not necessarily a bad thing. As many operators have become certified and attended continuing education classes, they began to realize that the “state” is not out to get them. They realize that the compliance and regulatory agencies want them to be the best operators they can be, remain good stewards and protect the environment as required by the law.

 

After working with state agencies, many operators have learned that you no longer have to dread the Sanitary Survey. The Sanitary Survey is an on-site review of the water source, facilities, equipment, operation and maintenance of the public water system. It now covers more than just the technical side of the water system—it also includes a management and financial set of questions.

The purpose of this survey is to assure that the system is operating in compliance, make sure the public has safe drinking water and to point out any deficiencies that may be found in the system. A sanitary survey in Kentucky will list findings in three ways––significant deficiencies, non-significant deficiencies and recommendations. Systems must respond to any deficiency by either correcting the problem or establishing a plan to correct it. Items that are commonly identified in sanitary surveys include out-of-date O&M manuals, not enough certified operators, low-chlorine residuals, no cross-connection plan, missing compliance records and no containment for treatment chemicals.

The survey gives the system personnel an opportunity to improve their knowledge of the system as well as determine if optimization, adjustments or changes are needed in order for the system to perform at its best. The following is an overview of what to expect and should guide a system on how to prepare for the survey.

1. Know your water sources.
Know the advantages, disadvantages, shortfalls and reliability of your own source water.

2. Master the water treatment process.
Know how your treatment process works and the reason that you use the methods, chemicals and procedures. Have process diagrams, basin and filter sizes and other data available on the “concrete and steel” of the system.

3. Master the distribution system.
Know the storage capacity of the distribution tanks and how often water is “turned over” in them.  Be able to explain how pressure booster stations operate.  Have procedures for flushing, boil-water advisories, main breaks and cross connections ready for review.

4. Manage the water supply pumps and pumping facilities.
Know your pump sizes and how they work together. Know the reliability of your equipment. Make sure you have replacement parts, pumps, preventive maintenance and maintenance schedules, as well as knowing the efficiencies and economic impact.

5. Be accurate and current on monitoring, reporting, and data verification.
Always keep good records. Know how long each record should be kept and make sure all analysis is done using an approved method and when it is required. Maintain up-to-date operations and maintenance manuals (for both the plant and distribution system), compliance reports and consumer confidence reports.

6. Be thorough and enforce water-system management and operations programs.
Be sure to have written, applicable and easy-to-follow procedures for all aspects of the system. Train all personnel on the proper way that situations should be handled at the facility. Develop short- and long-range plans and budgets to update or replace equipment and processes so that you are proactive rather than reactive. Develop and maintain good communication with upper management, boards and commissions, so that they understand how their decisions impact water system operation.

7. Assure that all operators are in compliance with state requirements.
There are no substitutions or excuses for noncompliance. Encourage operators to know the rules and regulations, abide by them and not to take shortcuts or chances.

Certified operators are critical to the operation of our water systems. Encourage your operators to attend relevant training, gain the necessary certification level and to excel in the profession.

Another good practice is to have “internal” sanitary surveys or inspections so that system staff can be familiar with the process and address any deficiencies or shortfalls before the regulating agency does its official one. Use this as a quality-control measure to enhance your facility’s quality control.

These are a few things that can prepare a drinking water system for a Sanitary Survey. For more information, click the following link: http://waterky.org/node/402.

Webinar on Hiring and Training Veterans: A Resource for the Water Sector

EPA is hosting a webinar for water sector professionals, utility managers, and human resources staff to learn how to access the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) programs to hire and train veterans for careers at water and wastewater utilities.  This is similar to the web event held on September 13 for state primacy agencies on the same subject.

DATE:  Tuesday, October 30, 2012

TIME:  1:00-2:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:  Click here to register for the free webinar

During the webinar, VA staff in Washington, D.C. will outline the benefits of hiring veterans and provide information on working with local VA employment coordinators to find qualified candidates. The webinar is being co-sponsored by the American Water Works Association and the Water Environment Federation and is part of a May 2012 memorandum of understanding (MOU) between EPA and the VA Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Services to help connect veterans with disabilities to career opportunities in the water sector. For more information, contact Allison Watanabe at (202) 564-0128 or send an email to watanabe.allison@epa.gov.  You may also Click here for information on the EPA/VA MOU .