Webinars & Workshops from the Environmental Finance Center Network (EFCN)

Using HydroDASH for Financial Sustainability

The Region 10 Environmental Finance Center at Boise State University pioneered the use of financial dashboards among small water systems in the United States. In this webinar, EFC staff will demonstrate the features and benefits of its new web-based dashboard tool, HydroDASH. Attendees will see how the HydroDASH tool takes a basic income statement or system budget, and generates powerful financial ratios that show a system’s financial health. This webinar is appropriate for operators of small systems, consultants, engineers, technical assistance providers, and government agencies and trade associations interested in tools available for their clients.

There are two opportunities to participate in this free web event:

DATE:  Monday, September 16, 2013

TIME:  2:00-3:00pm (eastern)

REGISTER:  Register here


DATE:  Monday September 23, 2013

TIME:  2:00-3:00pm (eastern)

REGISTER:  Register here


In Alaska:  Water System Managerial, Financial, and Leadership Academy

This training for small water systems will cover a comprehensive set of topics related to how to better manage, finance, and lead a water system. The Academy is modeled upon the concept of the operator short schools and will include a wide variety of topics using interactive presentations and workshops, including asset management, rate setting, communication, decision-making, general finance, cutting costs, and goal setting. This three day workshop will provide managers, elected officials, and owners tools to allow them to effectively manage their water systems in tough economic times. While this program is primarily geared for individuals who own or manage water systems, operators are welcome to attend.

DATE:  September 17-19, 2013

LOCATION:  Curtis Menard Sports Center, 1001 S. Mack Drive, Wasilla, AK

COST:  Free – there is no cost to register, but attendees must cover their own food and travel costs.

REGISTER:  http://efcnetwork.org/upcoming  (The agenda is available here as well).

CEUs are currently under review.


Designing Appropriate Rate Structures for Small Water Systems

How a water system charges its customers for their water use affects revenue generation and can either help or hinder varying objectives of the utility.  Do you have many customers on low or fixed incomes? Do you have very high fixed costs and a small customer base?  Do you have a mix of residential and commercial customers? Do you want or need to encourage water conservation?  Does your water system serve a seasonal community? Do you not charge based on metered use, or include the price for water as part of rent for housing?

This webinar will describe the different elements of water rate structures and when it is appropriate to favor certain elements or rate structure designs over others based on the unique characteristics and objectives of water systems.  This training is best suited for individuals who make financial decisions on behalf of small water systems or who assist small water systems in setting rates: utility managers, finance staff, system owners, board members, consultants, technical assistance providers, financial regulators, and other interested parties.  There is no cost to participate in this web event.

DATE:  Tuesday, September 24, 2013

TIME:  2:00-3:30pm (eastern)

REGISTER:  Please click here


Want to be a CUPSS Trainer?

Register for the Train-the-Trainer webinars as part of the Check Up Program for Small Systems (CUPSS).

This 3-part,  6-hour webinar series provides comprehensive training on how to use the Check Up Program for Small Systems (CUPSS) software to implement asset management practices at small water and wastewater systems. Each session contains an overview of a CUPSS module, followed by live demonstrations. This training closely follows the CUPSS Users Guide and the Self-Paced Training lessons available at www.epa.gov/cupss.

AND…when you successfully complete all three training webinars and assignments, you will be added to the Trainers Directory on the EPA website http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/drinkingwater/pws/cupss/upload/epa816k13002.pdf!


Session 1: Setting up CUPSS and My Inventory

DATE:  September 4, 2013

TIME:  1:00-3:00pm ET

REGISTER:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/331786781669442816


Session 2: My O&M and My Finances

DATE:  September 18, 2013

TIME:  1:00-3:00pm ET

REGISTER:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8782988295011554816


Session 3: My CUPSS Plan, Advanced Features, and Tips for Trainers

DATE:  October 2, 2013

TIME:  1:00-3:00pm ET

REGISTER:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1510388479854644992


CUPSS Community Call!

Register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7926772202161894400 to join the next CUPSS Community call on October 31 from 2:00-3:00pm (eastern) to find out what your colleagues are doing.

Questions?  Please contact cupss@epa.gov .

A New Workforce Resource

The latest edition of the AWWA Workforce Solutions Newsletter includes information on a free resource for water/wastewater utilities interested in workforce issues.

BAYWORK, a [San Francisco] Bay Area consortium, was created by water/wastewater utilities.  Bay area water and wastewater utilities have, through BAYWORK, made a significant investment in development of products and support services that are now available without cost to all utilities.

One of BAYWORK’s goals has been to share lesson learned with all water/wastewater utilities, regardless of geographical location.   To facilitate this effort, BAYWORK has developed a website at http://baywork.org.   All of the following are now available free of charge from the BAYWORK website:

  • Candidate development/outreach materials  (brochures, posters, and a Career Roadmap) on mission-critical job categories available for downloading and printing
  • Videos on work in mission-critical job categories available for down-loading and use
  • A Job and Internships posting function that allows water utilities  to advertise job and internship openings free of charge
  • Powerpoints, videos, and resources from BAYWORK workshops  related to staff preparedness (documentation, staff development and technical training, and knowledge management)
  • How-to Guides related to workforce reliability programs and tools
  • A Training Bulletin Board that can be used by water utilities to post  training opportunities that they are willing to share with the staff of other water utilities
  • Reports produced by BAYWORK as a result of methodical, thorough  research (e.g., on critical labor needs, and innovative approaches to optimizing use of staffing available)
  • Secure on-line forums relating to topics of water utility interest, such as candidate development and effective use of control systems.

Questions?  Please contact Cheryl Davis, BAYWORK Chair, at ckd@sfwater.org or 415-554-1875.

Protecting Critical Infrastructure Against Insider Threats – DHS Online Course

Smaller water systems are just as vulnerable to “insider” malicious acts as the largest of the large utilities.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the FEMA Emergency Management Institute, critical infrastructure owners and operators, and other Federal and state agencies has developed a one hour no-cost independent study course titled Protecting Critical Infrastructure Against Insider Threats (IS-915) to help address this problem.  The online course is now available on the FEMA training site and also offers 0.1 CEUs for successful completion.

Protecting Critical Infrastructure Against Insider Threats enhances awareness of the potential threats to critical infrastructure from malicious actions taken by those inside the organization. The course also provides guidance on how to identify insider threats to critical infrastructure and an overview of common characteristics and indicators associated with malicious insiders.  This course is part of the larger Critical Infrastructure Security Awareness series that offers independent, self-study opportunities across a broad spectrum of security related issues.

Please share this information with your water systems, TA providers, and colleagues with an interest in critical infrastructure security.  There are no prerequisites for this course.  However, DHS recommends that participants should take IS-906, Workplace Security Awareness, as a foundation preparation for this course.


You are encouraged to join with the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) in encouraging well owners to protect public health and the health of the environment by protecting groundwater beginning on Protect Your Groundwater Day, September 10.

Everyone can make a difference in groundwater quality.  Proper storage, use, and disposal of hazardous household substances, effective maintenance of septic systems, and good management practices for household water well owners all contribute to good groundwater quality.  Additionally, with drought gripping much of the U.S., protecting groundwater through conservation is more important than ever.

Protect Your Groundwater Day is an occasion for every citizen to ACT: Acknowledge the issue, Consider how it applies to you, then Take Action. Here are some action steps that anyone can take along with additional tips for household well owners:

​1. Acknowledge the causes of preventable groundwater contamination

Everyone should consider:

  • There are hazardous substances common to households
  • Most household water use occurs in a few areas around the home.

​If you own a water well:

  • Wellheads should be a safe distance from potential contamination
  • Septic system malfunctions can pollute groundwater
  • Poorly constructed or maintained wells can facilitate contamination
  • Improperly abandoned wells can lead to groundwater contamination.

2.​ Consider which apply to you

Everyone should consider:

  •   What specific hazardous substances are in and around your home?
  •   Where do you and your family use the most water?

If you own a water well:

  • Is your wellhead a safe distance from possible contamination?
  • Is your well/septic system due for an inspection?
  • Are there any abandoned wells on your property?

3. Take action to prevent groundwater contamination

When it comes to water conservation, everyone should consider:

  •   Modify your water use
  •   Install a water-saving device

When it comes to hazardous household substances, everyone should consider:

  •   Store them properly in a secure place
  •   Use them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations
  •   Dispose of them safely.

If you own a water well:

  • Move possible contamination sources a safe distance from the wellhead
  • Get current on your septic system inspection and cleaning
  • Get an annual water well system inspection
  • Properly decommission any abandoned wells using a professional.

Boise State EFC Debuts “HydroDASH”

The Boise State Environmental Finance Center (EFC) has designed a new dashboard application for small water systems ‘from the ground up.’ The new application, called HydroDASH, is available on the web at http://hydrodash.com.

The application provides a simple method for small water systems to generate financial data for lenders and regulators; translates financial data into actual knowledge about the true sustainability of a system; and offers a way to leave a legacy for future system operators and managers.

Data input is now done via Excel.  Users simply download the Excel spreadsheet, enter data, upload the sheet, press a button and the dashboard appears. To begin the process, users only need to have their production data (number of hookups) and a copy of their most recent income statement. HydroDASH does the rest.  A “support” tab on the home page can take users to a training page that includes videos on how to create user accounts, how to begin using the software, and the benefits of using the software.

The system generates operating ratios, a debt coverage ratio, needed savings, an affordability index and various comparisons of revenues and costs. Users also have the ability to see how much headroom they have with rates, AND if revenues are not covering expenses, the ability to generate live “what-if” scenarios to determine what kind of rate increase is necessary so that revenues will cover expenses.

For more information about how HydroDASH works, or for a demo of the application, please contact the Boise State EFC at efc@boisestate.edu.


The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) has produced six new short videos on a variety of topics to assist small, rural communities in managing their water and wastewater systems.

Most videos are aimed at the members of the board of directors or governing body or key decision-makers of their community’s water utility, and most videos address topics in the area of wastewater treatment. However, other audiences, such as customers, housing developers, staff of water systems, and those who work with drinking water systems, will find some topics the videos address relevant.

The videos range from 4 to 9 minutes in length and are available online.  Links to all videos are at www.rcap.org/newresources.

Wondering Where to Find a CUPSS Trainer?

EPA has just published the latest edition of the CUPSS Trainers Directory.   The directory includes the names and contact information for those who have received a CUPSS Train-the-Trainer Webinar Series Certificate of Completion.  To view or download the new directory, please go to: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/drinkingwater/pws/cupss/upload/epa816k13002.pdf.

So…what exactly is CUPSS?  CUPSS stands for the Check Up Program for Small Systems.  It is a free, easy-to-use, asset management tool for small drinking water and wastewater utilities. CUPSS provides a simple, comprehensive approach based on EPA’s highly successful Simple Tools for Effective Performance (STEP) Guide series. Use CUPSS to help you develop:

  • A record of your assets;
  • A schedule of required tasks;
  • An understanding of your financial situation;
  • A tailored asset management plan.

To learn more about the CUPSS program, please visit: http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/drinkingwater/pws/cupss/index.cfm

For questions about the CUPSS Trainers Directory or the CUPSS program, please contact the EPA CUPSS Team at cupss@epa.gov.

National Science Foundation Teams with NBC to Create Video about Health of Water

Editor’s Note:  Our colleagues at the Ground Water Protection Council first published this article in their August Newsletter.  ASDWA encourages you to take a look at these 7 videos (about 5 minutes each) and share them with your water systems as part of the discussion on both sustainability and the value of water.

“The National Science Foundation (NSF) and NBC Learn (NBC News’ educational arm) have teamed up to produce a new informative video series that examines the long-term health of one of America’s most important resources:  water.  As climate rapidly changes and population grows, providing a sufficient supply and quality of water will be a critical challenge to people everywhere. These videos aim to help advance public understanding of the effects human activity and climate variability have on water and its distribution system.

“Sustainability: Water,” an original seven-part collection, consists of detailed stories explaining significant challenges to managing the water supply in selected regions and cities across the United States.  The series highlights research funded by NSF and looks at the lives of scientists who are hard at work on projects designed to help pave the way to a more sustainable future. Each video features an NSF-supported scientist from a diversity of fields, geographic locations and institutions explaining a specific challenge and how these challenges are affecting the water supply. Each episode is available cost-free to teachers, students and the public at NSF and the NBCLearn http://www.nbclearn.com/portal/site/learn websites.

“Most Americans take water for granted,” said Roger Wakimoto, assistant director for NSF’s Directorate for Geosciences.  “We have occasional water restrictions, but for most of us, when we turn on the tap, water is there. This series with NBC Learn aims to help people become more conscious of the threats to our water supply and understand the steps that need to be taken to maintain it.”

“Our new series with NSF is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness about the challenges to our environment,” said Soraya Gage, general manager of NBC Learn. “By exploring the challenge of sustainable water, we hope to raise awareness and spur dialogue about managing the water system and conserving Earth’s most precious resource.”

EPA Announces $12.7 Million in New Competitive Grants

On August 1, EPA announced the availability of $12.7 million to be awarded on a competitive basis to provide training and technical assistance to improve water quality and enable small public water systems to provide safe drinking water. Eligible applicants are nonprofit organizations, nonprofit private universities and colleges, and public institutions of higher education.  Eligible recipients of the training and technical assistance are small public water systems, small publicly-owned wastewater systems, communities served by onsite/decentralized wastewater systems, and owners of private wells.

Applications must address one of the following four National Priority Areas:

(1) Training and Technical Assistance for Small Public Water Systems to Achieve and Maintain Compliance with the SDWA (training and technical assistance for small public water systems to enable such systems to achieve and maintain compliance with the SDWA);

(2) Training and Technical Assistance to Improve Financial and Managerial Capacity and Enable Small Public Water Systems to Provide Safe Drinking Water (training and technical assistance for small public water systems to build their financial and managerial capacity to provide safe drinking water over the long term);

(3) Training and Technical Assistance for Small Publicly-Owned Wastewater Systems and Onsite/Decentralized Wastewater Systems to Help Improve Water Quality (training and technical assistance to improve operational performance of wastewater systems over the long-term, thereby improving public health and water quality); or

(4) Training and Technical Assistance for Private Well Owners to Help Improve Water Quality (training and technical assistance to provide private well owners with information they need to protect their drinking water supply and improve water quality).

The deadline for applying for the funds is September 16, 2013.  You may find more information about both the competitive award announcement and the application process at: http://water.epa.gov/grants_funding/sdwa/smallsystemsrfa.cfm.