USDA Marks Earth Day Celebrations with Record Funding for Water & Wastewater Projects

Last week, USDA Secretary Tom Visack announced that USDA will be providing financial support via loans or grants to 116 rural water and wastewater projects across the nation.  Under the provisions of the Farm Bill as well as other USDA sources, the Agency can offer nearly $387 million in funding – a combination of $164.6 million in grants and $222 million in loans.  The awards are generally divided equally between water and wastewater projects and will be made to projects in 40 states and Puerto Rico.

You can view the project list and award amounts on the USDA website at



EPA Announces DWSRF Set-Asides Webinar

The OGWDW DWSRF Team at EPA has announced the third webinar in their Financial Integrity series – this one on DWSRF Set-Asides.  This event is designed to support the needs of EPA Regional and State DWSRF and PWSS staff.

DATE:  May 15, 2014

TIME:   2:00-4:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:  At the Time of the Event, click and enter as a “Guest”

During the event, learn how your state can creatively and effectively use the set-asides. Presenters will go over the basics of each set-aside and showcase strategic methods of using these authorities in tandem with your state’s infrastructure program.

For more information, please see the flyer and information sheet that appear below.  If you have more questions, please contact EPA’s Nick Chamberlain at or 202-564-1871.

DWSRF Set-Asides Webinar Flyer

Participant Guide

New York Partners Create Children’s Activity Booklet on The Value of Water

Our colleagues at the New York Department of Health and their water community partners, known as the Water and Wastewater Education and Outreach Committee (WWEOC), have created and just released a Value of Water Activity Booklet for school children, which is now available for distribution.  This booklet builds on the success of their earlier consumer-focused brochure, “The Value of Water ­ What is it worth to you?” which has been widely distributed.

This year’s WWEOC effort takes another step in raising awareness of the value of water and the availability of careers within the water industry. The children’s activity book titled “The Value of Water: What’s it worth to you and your community?” is being disseminated to stakeholders in New York’s drinking water and wastewater community as well as to teachers and children in celebration of Water Week (May 4-­10, 2014).

The booklet contains information about the history of water in Ancient Rome; the benefits of water services; water and wastewater fun facts; and information about careers in the water industry. There are also fun activities like a word search, crossword puzzle, and fill-­in-­the-­blanks. Within the booklet, there is also a list of organizations that can provide more information and resources on topics related to drinking water and wastewater.

While this children’s activity booklet is New York-specific (see copy below), the information can easily be adapted to your state. For more information on WWEOC or the Value of Water brochure and Children’s Activity booklet, please visit .  You may also download the booklet from the NYDOH website at  Just click on the link under “Information About the Quality of Your Drinking Water Supply.”

Value of Water Childrens Booklet_Final_Web

NESC Offers Filter Backwashing PowerPoint Presentation

(Editor’s Note:  This article appeared in the April 11 edition of NDWC News)

Are you a technical assistance provider or training professional who provides instruction about filter backwashing? Maybe you’re a new water operator who would like to learn more about this important task? Whatever the case, the National Environmental Services Center (NESC) has developed a free PowerPoint presentation that provides an overview of filter backwashing.

The PowerPoint, available at (scroll down to item 34), includes the different steps undertaken when cleaning a sand filter and features a six-minute video of the process. The PowerPoint complements an existing Tech Brief about the topic, also available at the link above.

“Filter backwashing is one of the most important steps a system performs,” says Zane Satterfield, NESC engineering scientist. “Without a properly functioning filter, a system won’t be able to provide quality drinking water to the community and may fall out of compliance with health regulations.”

If you have questions about filter backwashing or other drinking water or wastewater topics, call NESC’s toll-free help line at (800) 624-8301 and select option “3.” A complete list of Tech Briefs, four-page fact sheets providing concise, technical information about a drinking water treatment technology or issue relevant to small systems, may be found


EPA & USDA Partner on Small System Tools

With extensive input from operators and managers of rural and small systems, including field testing at four workshops around the country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have developed two tools:

  • Rural and Small Systems Guidebook to Sustainable Utility Management, and
  • Workshop in a Box

The Guidebook takes rural and small systems through a series of steps to assess their current operations based on ten key management areas that cover all aspects of systems operations. The Guidebook helps systems assess their strengths and priorities for potential improvement and also develop an action plan to address these priorities.

Workshop in a Box contains a series of materials and instructions to help rural and small systems and service providers market and conduct workshops on their own based on information in the Guidebook.

The “why” behind creating both the Guidebook and Workshop in a Box is to:

  • Give systems a simple and objective way to evaluate their strengths and areas for improvement
  • Help systems develop an easy-to-follow plan for improving operations based on their assessment
  • Help systems better communicate internally and externally about the system and its challenges
  • Help systems build the necessary support for improvement over time

Links to both the Guidebook and Workshop in a Box appear below.




EPA Office of Water Publishes New Sustainability Doc for Water Systems

On April 8, EPA published Moving Toward Sustainability: Sustainable and Effective Practices for Creating Your Own Water Utility Roadmap.  Designed by water and wastewater utilities in concert with Federal and State partners, the purpose is to “…assist utilities to move toward sustainability by implementing proven practices over time at a pace consistent with their needs and the needs of the communities they serve.”

The “Sustainability Roadmap” offers three critical caveats for users:

  • This document does not define one roadmap for utilities to follow. It provides the utility with the flexibility needed to meet their specific needs.
  • The document reflects extensive input from federal, state and community stakeholders, and contains practical examples utilities can use to determine what level of sustainability they are currently operating at. Future goals can be established accordingly.
  • Every utility’s circumstances are unique. Example practices can be scaled to meet the appropriate level of technical, financial and managerial capacity.

The document is organized around the 10 attributes of effectively managed utilities – another collaborative effort that resulted in the concepts behind Effective Utility Management.

You may download this document and learn more about sustainability and water by going to:

Click this link  Practices Roadmap Fact Sheet FINAL 4-8-14 to view a fact sheet about the “Sustainability Roadmap.”


EPA Posts New Updates/Training on Federal Disaster Funding Tool

EPA has posted a series of short video trainings to help introduce water and wastewater utilities to EPA’s tool, Federal Funding for Utilities-Water/Wastewater-in National Disasters (Fed FUNDS).  This can be a great resource for smaller systems who will need to know where to go for funding if there is a major disaster.  On the web at, this new, user-friendly approach walks the user through a series of “how to” scenarios that apply in advance of, during, and after a disaster has occurred…literally, at the press of a button!

Which Funding is Right for You? – guides you to the most applicable funding programs

  • Be Prepared to Tap into Funding – lists activities to prepare you to apply for funding
  • Currently in a Disaster? – provides forms and photologs to document the damage
  • Federal Disaster Funding Programs – covers federal programs from FEMA, EPA, USDA, and others
  • Utility Examples, Training, & Assistance – includes successful applications, training on funding, and funding mentors





Take a look at FedFUNDS and share this information with your water systems to help them be better prepared “just in case…”

EPA to Host NCWS Webinar

EPA has issued an invitation for states, TA providers, water utilities and others with an interest in noncommunity water system (NCWS) challenges and solutions to participate in a May 5 webinar.

DATE:  Monday, May 5, 2014

TIME:   1:00-2:30 (eastern)


In 2012-13, a state-EPA workgroup met to discuss the unique issues faced by NCWSs and the state programs responsible for regulating them.  The workgroup compiled its findings into a draft document that is nearly ready for publication.  The document presents a series of recommendations to address the specific challenges that were identified by the workgroup, and highlights examples of outreach materials, tools, and best practices.  The webinar will provide an overview of the findings from that draft document; feature presentations on state initiatives directed toward NCWSs; and discuss next steps to keep the discussion going!

State Capacity Development and Operator Certification Coordinators may recall that ASDWA has posted the best practices appendix from this findings document on the ASDWA CapCert Community web page, where it will be periodically be updated to reflect the latest contact information and most recent practices.

The flyer link below includes more details about this webinar presentation.  Meanwhile, if you have questions, please contact Steve Hogye at EPA HQ at

NCWS Webinar Flier (2)

Take a Virtual Tour of a Drinking Water Plant

Sometimes, it pays to go back and look at what has come before.  In this case, ASDWA was looking through EPA’s archives and came upon a great training and resource tool, a Virtual Tour of a Drinking Water Plant.  Created in 2006, the basics are still the basics and how a treatment plant works has not changed that much!

The Virtual Tour begins with source water, works its way through topics such as filtration and disinfection, and concludes with information about distribution systems.  Within each segment, users can also click on additional information about quality & safety, cost, environment, fun facts, and a glossary of terms.  There are also exercises for those who want to test their water knowledge and links to useful web-based resources.

For example, did you know that 3500 years ago, King Tut drank water that had been “processed” with alum to coagulate the suspended sediments in the Nile?  Thinking about health and health effects, as far back as 400 BC, Hippocrates, the Greek “father of medicine,” called for water to be boiled and strained through a cloth before serving.  We’ve been thinking about water that is safe to drink for a very long time!

Virtual Tour of a Drinking Water Treatment Plant (requires Adobe Flash).
This video can be viewed in English and Spanish.
* This link will open up a large file that may take several minutes to open based on your internet connection speed.

This CD can be ordered by calling 1-800-490-9198 and requesting EPA publication number 816-C-06-002. You can also go to place your order using the same publication number.

So, if you’re looking for a terrific tool to share for Drinking Water Week, have a new water board or group of commissioners that could use some “water 101” education, or know of a teacher interested in some clever projects for middle school students (how about build your own aquifer?), this resource may be just the answer for you…take a look!