EFCN Offers “After Hours” Training Opportunities

Do you sometimes wish there was a way to bring Boards, local officials, and system owners to your training table – especially when the subject is money?  Here are two evening webinar opportunities provided by the Environmental Finance Center Network (EFCN) that we encourage you to share with these decision-makers.  The timing is such that the hour-long experience should not conflict with their regular work schedules.

Water System Financial Management

 DATE:              August 28, 2018

TIME:               9:00-10:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      Register Online

This webinar will provide an overview of key financial management best practices for small water system owners, board members, and local elected officials. We will discuss the fiscal responsibilities of water system leaders, budgeting best practices, and ways to measure and improve the overall financial health of the water system. You will also learn about how water systems can best use reserve accounts to improve their financial management.

Water System Rate Setting

DATE:              September 6, 2018

TIME:               9:00-10:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      Register Online

This webinar will provide an overview of rate setting best practices for small water system owners, board members, and local elected officials. We will discuss the link between water system objectives and rates and explore different types of rate structures. You will learn about available tools and resources to assist with rate setting, and how rates can be set for systems that are partnering or collaborating to provide water service.

 

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How Do You Know How Old Your Assets Are?

During the recent National Capacity Development and Operator Certification Workshop in Indianapolis, an interesting question was posed.  The topic under discussion was asset management.  The question was how can very small utilities, particularly those with volunteer boards, determine how old assets are in order to develop a capital improvement plan.

I didn’t have a solid sense of what a good answer should be, so, I asked Heather Himmelberger, the Director for the Southwest Environmental Finance Center.  Heather and her team spend countless hours helping small communities with precisely these kinds of questions.

Here’s Heather’s response…

“The truth is, it doesn’t really matter how old an asset actually is.  The age of an asset is only one characteristic that defines an asset, but it is not even close to being the most important. The good news is that a range of factors such as condition, useful life remaining, preventative maintenance history, and corrective maintenance history, are much more important in determining when an asset needs to be replaced than the age of the asset.

“These factors are also ones that an operator and/or system manager can actually know or make a good educated guess about.  For assets that can be seen, a visual review of the asset by those familiar with it, combined with whatever is known about preventative maintenance history, repair history, and operational issues, can provide a good estimate of condition and how much longer the asset will be able to do the job for which it is intended. For assets that can’t be seen, the same categories can be used to estimate condition and useful life remaining, except the visual inspection.

“When operators or managers are being requested to make an estimate of useful life remaining, it is important to ask the question in the form of, “knowing all you know about how the asset has been operating, how it’s been maintained, the repairs you’ve had to do…how much longer do you think that pump can keep pumping or that valve can continue to open and close or the pipe can convey water, etc.?” This is an estimate in terms of number of years it can still do its job. Will the operator/board member/manager be completely right about their estimates? The answer is no, but that’s okay.  They may overestimate some or underestimate others, but it will be good enough to develop a simple capital improvement plan.

“If you back up a little further and say, what if they don’t even know what assets they have, the process starts at a different place.  Every water system has some knowledge of their system’s components; it may be in someone’s head or in old drawings or just in visual clues on the ground, but there is a starting place. In that case, you start with what is known and develop a simple asset inventory and/or a map of assets. All assets that can be seen (e.g., valves, hydrants, meters, treatment facilities, storage tanks) are good places to start.  An operator/board member can walk or drive around the system either on their own or with an assistance provider and collect data about the assets. Data collection can be done with simple phone apps or on a piece of paper.  Any assets unable to be seen, such as pipe, can be drawn in later based on the visual clues such as valves, meters, and hydrants.  Will this data be exact?  No, but it will be good enough to get the CIP started.  The inventory and map can always be updated and improved over time.”

Thanks, Heather, for offering some helpful, basic approaches in working with very small systems.

WEBINAR:  Renewing the Water Workforce: Improving Water Infrastructure and Creating a Pipeline to Opportunity

Our colleague, Jane Thapa, Operator Certification Coordinator in the New York Department of Health, forwarded this webinar opportunity from The Water Research Foundation (WRF).  Thanks, Jane!

DATE:              August 28, 2018

TIME:               3:00-4:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      https://event.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1204453&tp_key=c7271668a7

Hosted by WRF, this free webcast will explore the findings of Renewing the Water Workforce: Improving Water Infrastructure and Creating a Pipeline to Opportunity, published by the Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institute. This research provides insight on the nation’s 1.7 million water workers, including data on wages, skills, and demographics. The speakers will also present actionable strategies—a new water workforce playbook—that all types of leaders can use in future hiring, training, and retention efforts.

As the U.S. economy continues to grow, many communities are struggling to translate this growth into more equitable and inclusive employment opportunities. Meanwhile, many of our infrastructure assets are in urgent need of repair or restoration, and the workers needed to carry out these efforts are in short supply. These two challenges offer an enormous economic opportunity: infrastructure is well positioned to offer more durable careers to a wide variety of workers. The United States needs a new generation of skilled workers to design, construct, operate, and govern our various infrastructure systems. It falls to water utilities, workforce development partners, and local, state, and national leaders to develop a water workforce to meet ongoing demands, ideally connected to the diverse residents and communities they serve.

EFCN Partners Offer More Webinars

Have questions about Asset Management or wonder how to improve communications with a Water Board?  Our colleagues at the Environmental Finance Center Network may have just what you’re looking for…

WEBINAR:  Ask the Expert: A Unique Opportunity to Ask Your Asset Management Questions or Seek Advice on How to Begin

DATE:              Thursday, August 30, 2018

TIME:               1:00-2:30PM (eastern)

REGISTER:      Register Online

Whether you are just starting to think about asset management and wonder where to begin or are a seasoned practitioner, this webinar is for you. This is your opportunity to ask anything from where to start, to how to sustain a program, to how to set level of service goals or listen to Q&A from others. All questions related to asset management are welcome. In addition to receiving expertise from the U.S., you will have access to a leading asset management professional from New Zealand, which boasts one of the most advanced practices in the world.

Presenters:  Heather Himmelberger, Director – Southwest Environmental Finance Center at the University of New Mexico and Ross Waugh – Waugh Infrastructure Management

 

WEBINAR:  Communicating Water to Your Board

DATE:              Friday, September 7, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Register Online

When your water utility board understands the work you do, you are better able to provide high-quality water service to your community. In this webinar, you will discover a few new tools to improve communication with your board so that they can make sound, well-informed decisions for the water utility.

Presenter:  Tonya Bronlewee, Program Manager – Environmental Finance Center at Wichita State University

Just in Case You Missed It…

The small system drinking water support community is a collaborative one.  We often support each other by re-sharing information.  In this case, we are sharing resource news that you may have received from our partners at wateroperator.org or from your regional RCAP organization.  In any case, we believe that the information below should be useful to you in your work with small drinking water systems.

Did you know that over 20 training modules on water & wastewater topics are available on Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP)’s resource library website?

These modules include guides/notes for trainers, training logistics guidance, fillable/customizable PowerPoint presentations, quizzes, answer keys, grading criteria, diagrams, spreadsheet tools and more. Many training modules can be downloaded as .zip files, and can include word documents, .pdf’s, annotated PowerPoints, spreadsheets, and photos.

Available topics include: Distribution, Operations & Maintenance Planning, Water Loss, Water Quality in Storage Facilities, Wastewater System Safety, Wastewater System Safety, Wastewater Sampling & Preservation, Wastewater Lagoons & Oxidation Ponds, Energy Efficiency for Wastewater Plants, Discharge Monitoring, Chemistry for Water Operators, Principles of Wastewater Disinfection & Chlorination, Basic Hydraulics and Pumps, and more.

For those interested in implementing these trainings, a good first step might be to check out this presentation on best practices in leading workshops. This presentation covers proven engagement and knowledge retention techniques to help you make the most of your time and efforts.