Plan Ahead – EFCs Offering Lots of Info!

The Environmental Finance Center Network has just released their schedule of upcoming webinar events focusing on small water system issues.  Check the listings below and save the dates now before your summer schedule gets filled up!

Water Loss Audits – You’ve Collected Your Data, How Do You Know If It’s Any Good?

DATE:              Monday, May 23

TIME:               2:00-3:00PM (eastern)


You understand the importance of completing a water audit and you’ve collected the necessary information to fill out AWWA’s spreadsheet. Now you need to validate that data with scores. How do you determine if your data is good, bad or in between? This webinar will help you understand the validation process used by AWWA and give you tools to simplify the process. Once you understand the scoring process and have validated your data your total score provides you with some information. How that score can guide your decision making in reducing water loss will also be explained.


Navigating Funding Options for Water Infrastructure

DATE:              Wednesday, June 1

TIME:               2:00-3:00PM (eastern)


Many small drinking water systems across the country need to access financing in order to rehabilitate or expand their water infrastructure. There are a several programs established at the federal or state level to finance such projects. However, it can be difficult for a smaller community to wade through these options in order to determine which program(s) may be a good fit for the community’s needs. This webinar will introduce some of the more common financing programs. It will include a demonstration of where to access information on these programs online. There will also be a demonstration of two recent steps at the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program to streamline the application process for drinking water systems. These include the common template for the Preliminary Engineering Reports, as well as the new RDApply online application process.


Where Am I Starting From? Understanding Your Water System’s Electric Bill + the new Energy Usage Baseline Tool

DATE:              Wednesday, June 8

TIME:               2:00-3:00PM (eastern)


For many water systems, the electric (or energy) bill is one of the largest operating expenses regularly incurred by the water system. It is also one of the most controllable operating expenses a water system will have. In order to begin to save money from energy conservation measures, it is first necessary to know where you are starting from.  This webinar will help you:

+  Learn how to understand your electric bill(s) and their various components;

+  Compare different electricity rate schedules (if available from your electricity provider) as a means of looking for a more cost-saving, advantageous rate schedule (similar to shopping for the best cell phone plan you can find); and

+  Use the Environmental Finance Center’s new Energy Usage Baseline tool, an Excel-based tool to help you establish the baseline of electricity usage for your water system, and track the effectiveness of energy conservation measures across time that you adopt.


Successful Communication With Your Board

DATE:              Thursday, June 16

TIME:               2:00-3:00PM (eastern)



Water system managers, directors, supervisors and operators may all have to report to a board of directors, commission or council frequently or on an occasional basis. This can be a nerve-wracking and uncertain experience for many people. This webinar will cover what needs to be covered in discussions with board members, what can (generally) be left out and how to present information and recommendations to ensure a continued safe supply of water for your utility.


Completing an Energy Audit – What You Need to Do Your Own

DATE:              Wednesday, June 22

TIME:               1:30-2:30PM (eastern)


If you are interested in completing your own energy audit, this webinar will provide you with the information you need to be successful. By completing an energy audit you will be able to see what the energy costs are to run each piece of equipment you use at your utility. This information can then be used to help determine if there are potential operational changes, size changes or other changes that could be made that would save the utility operations money that could be better used elsewhere


See How ILWARN Manages Outreach to Small Systems

[Editor’s Note:  Our colleagues at published this in late March and included it in their most recent e-newsletter.  This Illinois example provides a great illustration of how you can reach out to your smaller systems to engage them in sustainability and resiliency.  Kudos to ILWARN for their creativity and the for sharing it with everyone!]

“A lot of challenges can impact a small utility. Anything from a tornado to multiple water main breaks on the same day to half the staff out with the flu can have a huge effect on a utility’s ability to function. While small local agreements are often a great first step to ensuring your bases are covered in the event of an emergency, statewide programs like ILWARN can be a great supplement to your emergency planning.


ILWARN is working to get the word out that the mutual aid assistance services they offer can be just as useful to small systems as they are to large ones. Their small systems flyer provides lots of introductory information, FAQs, and mythbusting on their resources and membership requirements. It’s worth noting here that there is no registration fee to join ILWARN, there are no size restriction, that members will be reimbursed for their assistance, and that no member is required to offer assistance. Pre-existing local agreements are not affected by ILWARN membership. Utilities wanting a more detailed idea of how ILWARN membership works might also want to check out the Operational Plan, which has resource sections for before, during, and after an emergency.


If you’re convinced ILWARN is a solid resource for your utility, there are more resources to help you get started. ILWARN has provided step-by-step guides to completing your registration with their website, requesting and offering assistance through the website, and requesting and offering assistance when the internet isn’t available or an emergency occurs after hours. And of course, you need to sign the mutual aid agreement and turn it in before you can participate in ILWARN assistance requests.

Small utilities face lots of challenges, but you don’t have to face them alone. Statewide mutual aid agreements help get as many people as possible in your corner when the chips are down. If your utility isn’t in Illinois but you’re interested in WARNs in your area, check out this map.”


EFCN Hosts Three Part Webinar Series on Rural Water Resiliency

The Environmental Finance Center at Syracuse University (part of the EFC Network) is hosting a three part webinar series to look at water resiliency in rural areas.

WEBINAR 1:  Rural Water Resiliency through Watershed and Roadway-Stream Intersection Management

DATE:              Thursday, April 21

TIME:               1:00-2:00PM (eastern)


Description:  Proper watershed and streamway management can decrease both the probability of flooding and drought and community vulnerability to these problems, protect roadway infrastructure, and prevent soil erosion, all of which help with cost savings for local governments. This webinar will cover watershed functions, including the effect of tiling and roadside ditches, demonstrate strategies to improve resiliency through streamway management, adjustment of ordinances and roadway drainage practices, and highlight re-engineered solutions, including relocation of infrastructure, phased retreat, and floodplain buyout. The webinar will also discuss the Climate Change Resiliency Act and how to utilize available money for municipal budgets.


WEBINAR 2:  Planning for the New(est) Definition of Federal Waters of the United States (WOTUS)

DATE:              Thursday, May 12

TIME:               1:00-2:00PM (eastern)


Description:  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have published new regulations defining Waters of the United States (WOTUS) in the Federal Register. This webinar will review and compare the 2007 and 2015 delineations of WOTUS and how those definitions impact delineations and determinations. The webinar will describe the status of the definition within the federal courts. Finally, the webinar will discuss steps municipalities can take to protect their own projects and those projects they are reviewing from potential changes in the WOTUS definition.


WEBINAR 3Financing Resilient Communities

DATE:              Thursday, May 26

TIME:               1:00-2:00PM (eastern)


Description:  Flooding can leave a community with damaged roadways, downed transmission lines and uninhabitable buildings. The need to replace or renovate damaged infrastructure becomes an emergency expenditure that many communities simply cannot afford. This webinar will discuss financing strategies and asset management for communities to prepare for flooding and other severe weather events. The webinar will also provide basic resources for communities to generate a resiliency plan and discuss funding programs at the state and federal levels.


EPA Region 4 AWOP States to Engage in Distribution System Optimization Pilot

During last month’s Region 4 Area Wide Optimization Program (AWOP) strategic planning meeting in Charleston, SC, EPA staff from the Technical Support Center and Region 4, ASDWA, and state staff from Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee discussed an opportunity to undertake a pilot program for distribution system optimization (DSO).  The pilot would invite third party technical assistance (TA) providers to engage with states in implementation of AWOP’s distribution system optimization (DSO) training protocols.

Assistance providers from the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, Alabama Rural Water Association, Florida Rural Water Association, Communities Unlimited, South Carolina Rural Water Association, Kentucky Rural Water Association, North Carolina Rural Water Association, and Tennessee Association of Utility Districts participated in the pilot option planning discussion.  The focus was on facilitation of technical approaches to achieve distribution system optimization at water systems.  This facilitated approach involves state staff providing the technical training for water systems, augmented by TA providers facilitating the activities with water system staff as they implement the technical tools in their own distribution systems.

After walking through the proposed modules and becoming more familiar with the expectations for all parties, the TA providers and states all embraced this joint implementation approach. Several of the state and TA representatives agreed on action plans to implement this collaborative DSO training approach with water systems during this year.  The AWOP National Optimization Leadership Team will monitor the success of the Region 4 pilot and consider expanding the pilot to other regional AWOPs in the future.  Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.  Meanwhile, if you have questions about this project, please send your inquiries to Rick Lieberman (EPA Technical Support Center) .  For more information about AWOP, go to the ASDWA AWOP website.


Start a Conversation with Your Power Supplier

Water utilities are well aware of their reliance on and mutual interdependencies with the energy/power/electric sector.  But are the decision-makers at electric utilities equally aware?  Does returning water systems to service after an outage rise to the top of their priority list?  How can you make that happen?  Here’s something that might help to get that conversation started…

EPA’s Water Security Division has developed a helpful flyer that calls out the various reasons why electric utilities should prioritize power restoration for drinking water and wastewater utilities.  It also describes key considerations for collaborating with the water sector, and links to find more information.  This is an ideal “leave behind” when you reach out to your electric utility counterparts to make sure that you are both working to enhance resiliency in your community.

To see or download the flyer, click this link Power Resilience Flyer for Electric Sector

EPA to Host Lead & Copper Corrosion Control Webinar

Registration is now open for EPA’s webinar:  Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) Optimal Corrosion Control Treatment (OCCT) Evaluation:  Technical Recommendations.  The updated guidance, released last month, will help states and water systems navigate through the often complex process of establishing or reevaluating optimal corrosion control treatment.  This webinar will educate users of the new guidance document or anyone interested in optimal corrosion control…and who isn’t interested in that subject these days!

Please note that there are two listed webinar dates – but they each cover the same materials – you only need to register for one of these events.

DATES:           Thursday, April 14 and Tuesday, April 19, 2016

TIME:               2:00-3:30PM (eastern)


  + April 14:

  + April 19:

Please share this opportunity with your colleagues in the water community.

Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) Regulatory Issues and Solutions Webinar

As part of the ongoing monthly webinar series dedicated to issues affecting small systems, EPA’s ORD invites you to join them for two discussions on DBPs.

DATE:              Tuesday, April 26

TIME:               2:00-3:00PM (eastern) with optional Q&A until 3:30PM



Presentation I:  Stage 2 Disinfectant Byproducts Regulatory Review and Implementation Challenges

This presentation will review the Stage 2 Disinfectant and Disinfection Byproducts Rule (DBPR) monitoring and reporting requirements, Stage 2 monitoring plans and plan revisions, reduced and increased monitoring, consecutive system issues, and operational evaluations. It will also review the treatment technique requirements of the Stage 1 DBPR that PWSs must continue to satisfy.

Presented by Michael Finn, P.E. – EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water (OGWDW)


Presentation II:  Small System DBP Challenges and Solutions in Washington State

Washington State has over 1,100 small community and non-transient non-community water systems that serve less than 3,300 people and are required to comply with the DBPRs. Most of the DBP maximum contaminant level exceedances in the state have been in these small systems. These systems include both surface water and groundwater sources. This presentation will give a summary of some of the water quality challenges facing these small systems and highlight a few success stories.

Presented by Jolyn Leslie, P.E. – Washington State Department of Health (WSDOH)

For more information about this webinar, click ORDSmallSystemsWebinar_April2016.

RCAP Shares Planning Steps for Water Shortages

The most recent edition of the RCAP Newsletter, “A Drop of Knowledge,” includes excellent information on planning contingencies if you are concerned about a possible water shortage in your community.  The following is an excerpt from that publication…

“Here are 4 steps to developing a water shortage contingency plan:

Step 1: Establish your utility priorities.  The EPA and USDA’s Rural and Small Systems Guidebook to Sustainable Utility Management lists ten key management areas of sustainably managed utilities.  By addressing priority areas such as product quality, financial viability, operation resiliency, and others, water system managers can address challenges and increase their effectiveness.

Step 2: Identify your potential water shortage events.  Drought, water quality degradation, or equipment failure can reduce or eliminate supply. Water treatment or distribution system failure can also cause major water shortage events. Events can be natural, man-made, or due to equipment failure. As utility system personnel you will most likely have the best idea where to focus your limited resources in planning for water shortages.

Step 3: Assess risks.  Don’t spend your time on events that probably won’t occur or that will have limited impact on your utility. Assess both the likelihood and impact of a failure to evaluate the risks.

Step 4: Involve other stakeholders.  Don’t forget to include other agencies and groups in the process. Utility personnel are prone to believe they can handle just about any incident. This may be true to a certain extent, but usually utilities underestimate available resources and abilities needed to handle larger or more complex water shortage events.

Additional steps include, examining water supply and demand, identifying trigger mechanisms for implementing the plan, and ensuring financial and legal backing.”

Editor’s Note:  You may want to round out your thought process by taking a look at the recently published EPA Drought Response and Recovery Guide for Water Utilities.  You can download the Guide at Guide also includes interactive case studies map that is available separately at

New Webinar:  Find Money in the Water System Budget – Internal Energy Revolving Funds

How can water systems find ways to pay for projects to reduce their energy costs?  Our colleagues at the Environmental Finance Center Network have a new approach for you to consider.

DATE:              April 12, 2016

TIME:               2:00-3:00PM (eastern)


This webinar will focus on the Internal Energy Revolving Fund (IERF) concept, also known as an “Energy Bank” or “Green Revolving Fund.”  In this model, an organization uses the fund to pay for energy improvements to its internal operations (e.g. pumps and motors, lighting, HVAC equipment, solar panels, etc.) and then uses the avoided energy costs from one project to help pay for the next project—thus the fund “revolves.”  This webinar will look at sources of money to seed the fund initially and ways to structure it for long-term success.

There is no cost to participate in this web event, but you must register in advance.

Planning Tools for Community Resiliency

All communities, regardless of size, need to plan for the future.  Everyone has had some level of experience with severe floods, ice storms, fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, or other weather related crises and should be looking ahead to have plans in place to respond and recover.

Our colleagues at the Environmental Finance Center Network, in collaboration with AWWA, are hosting a webinar titled “Using Future Scenarios to Identify Risk and Test Resiliency.”

DATE:              Wednesday, April 13, 2016

TIME:               2:00-3:00PM (eastern)


Two tools will be presented during the webinar.  The first, PESTEL, stands for Political, Environmental, Social, Technological, Economic, and Legal/Regulatory, and is a scenario planning tool guide.  By incorporating the elements of PESTEL, water systems are are reminded to look beyond just the environmental impacts of climate change and incorporate a systemic approach to long term resiliency.  Wind Tunnel, the second tool, tests system operations (both internal and external) against various future scenarios developed through the PESTEL.

Please share this invitation with your colleagues and your water systems.