Using Rebates to Reduce Water System Energy Costs

DATE:              Thursday, December 6

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

REGISTER:      Click here

Reducing energy costs is one of the few options available to water systems to decrease costs. Energy costs represent the largest controllable cost of providing water services and make up as much as 40 percent of operating costs. Not only that, experts project that energy costs will increase 20 percent over the next 15 years. Reducing energy costs often requires upfront investments in energy efficiency improvements.

This webinar will cover rebates available for energy efficiency upgrades specific to water systems, such as those for pumps and motors. We will discuss finding rebates applicable to your system using the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE), as well as examples of rebates available in a particular utility territory (Duke Energy).

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Webinar Focus – Tribal and Very Small Systems

EPA’s Office of Research & Development is hosting the next in its series of webinars on challenges and treatment solutions for small water systems.  This month’s event will focus on tribal and very small systems.

DATE:              November 27

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

REGISTER:      Click here

This two-part event will look first at some of the work that National Tribal Water Center (NTWC) has done in partnership with Tribes – both Alaska Native and American Indian Communities – to address the water and sanitation concerns in their communities.

The second part of the webinar will focus on low-cost treatment technologies for small rural water systems using the results of Puerto Rico treatability studies and will also cover the O&M requirements for the various technologies under discussion.

Mark Your Calendars!

Our colleagues at the Environmental Finance Center Network will be hosting three web events in November that you may have an interest in.  We also encourage you to share these webinar opportunities with your water systems.

GRANT WRITING 101

 DATE:              Thursday, November 8

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

REGISTER:      Register Online

This webinar will introduce the basics of grant writing. You will learn how to craft more competitive grant applications and increase the success rate of your submissions.

We will focus on:

  • How to identify priority projects
  • Potential funding alternatives
  • Planning for a proposal
  • Mechanics of grant writing
  • How to find funding opportunities

We will also discuss how relationship building can support your proposal and how best to convey the needs of your organization to grant reviewers.

 

COLLECTING BREAK DATA:  WHY, HOW, AND WHAT FOR

DATE:              Tuesday, November 13

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

REGISTER:      Register Online

Does your system have water main leaks and breaks? Even if the answer isn’t yes right now, it will be in the future. All utilities suffer from pipe leaks and breaks. How can you best deal with this problem? One way is to collect as much information as possible on the leaks and breaks to help you address the issue in the future.

Collecting break data may be easier than you think, and if you collect the right information, it can be leveraged and analyzed to provide insight into system performance, pipe condition, operations and maintenance issues, water losses, developing and tracking level of service goals, and more. It also provides invaluable information for creating capital improvement plans.

In this webinar, we will discuss what kinds of break data you can and should collect, how to collect it, and demonstrate different ways that you can analyze that data to develop and meet your operational goals.

 

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS: SUPPORTING WATER INFRASTRUCTURE AND IMPROVING QUALITY OF LIFE

DATE:     Thursday, November 15

TIME:     2:00-3:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:  Register Online

Every day, regional development organizations (RDOs) are working to improve the lives of residents in communities across the country. Known locally as councils of governments, regional planning commissions, economic development districts, and other names, RDOs provide various types of support to their member communities in a host of service areas. RDOs can open the door to grant and loan funding, provide administrative support, and supply valuable staff support and access to technology. For rural places in particular, they can play a critical role in towns that may have limited capacity and resources. This webinar will provide an overview of RDOs and share case studies of RDOs in action across the country supporting their region’s water systems.

State-Focused Webinar on the Latest EPA Training and Technical Assistance Grants for Small Drinking Water systems and Private Well Owners

DATE:              Thursday, November 1, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Click here

EPA has awarded $25.4 million to 3 organizations (National Rural Water Association, Rural Community Assistance Partnership, and the Environmental Finance Center Network) to provide training and technical assistance to small drinking water system personnel to address common issues they face, such as lack of revenue, deteriorating infrastructure, lack of operations and maintenance planning, inadequate training, and poor performance. Assistance and training will also be provided to private well owners to help them better understand well performance, how to protect their drinking water quality, treatment options available, and where to seek assistance. These grants come with a two year performance period.

This event is designed specifically for state drinking water program personnel and EPA Regional staff.  Please join us for the webinar to learn more about each program!

Have questions?  Please contact Susanna Bains at EPA HQ bains.susanna@epa.gov

EFCN Partners Host Several Useful Small Systems Webinars

Managing Disasters Before Disasters Strike

DATE:              Wednesday, October 10, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Click here

This webinar will explore emergency management and resilience strategies that can help small systems prepare for disasters. Discussions will cover trends in hazards, critical infrastructure stressors, and what steps small systems can take to adapt to an uncertain future.

Understanding the Root Cause of a Problem at Your Water System

DATE:              Thursday, October 18, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Click here

Understanding the root cause of a problem at your water system is the crucial first step in addressing the issue appropriately. This webinar will introduce and demonstrate two tools that will help water operators and managers get to the root cause of a difficult problem. The first tool is a line of inquiry called Five Why’s. The second is using a lens through which you can examine the problem from different perspectives, called PESTEL. By using these tools, water operators and managers can ensure that they define the problem correctly, so they can apply the right methods, and maximize the efficiency of their staff time, money, and other resources.

Working Together to Protect Your Drinking Water Source

DATE:              Thursday, October 25, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Click here

There are many benefits of collaborative relationships between water utilities, land conservation agencies and land trusts, and municipalities and counties to protect drinking water sources facing development pressure. Collaboration is not easy, however, and does not come naturally to all involved. This webinar will outline the benefits of collaboration as well as how to overcome any challenges that may arise. Panelists will share both the successes and lessons learned from getting outside their comfort zones and forging new partnerships

Risk and Resilience: Assessing Vulnerability for Coastal Communities

DATE:              Friday, November 2, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Click here

In light of an ever-changing climate and increasingly stressed infrastructure, we must take steps towards preventing and mitigating the duration and severity of water service interruptions. This webinar will discuss the importance of understanding risk, explore what it means to be a resilient coastal system, and suggest strategies for conducting basic vulnerability assessments.

Joint Webinar – DWSRF and Capacity Building in Action – Workforce Development and Operator Training

Interested in learning about how DWSRF set-asides can be used for workforce development and operator training activities?

DATE:              Tuesday, September 25, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Click Here

Join EPA DWSRF and Sustainable Systems Teams for a webinar to hear about Iowa’s Water and Wastewater Treatment Technology Diploma Program, Tennessee’s Fleming Training Center for operators, and EPA’s workforce resources and tools.

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.

 

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