Talking About Lead

Lead service lines, lead solder, lead in schools – these are hot topics regardless of where you live, the size of your community, and the source of your drinking water.  Everyone is scrambling to decide how best to remove lead as a drinking water contaminant.  But while the scientists and regulators are figuring all of this out, what do you say when your friends, neighbors, colleagues, or customers tell you about what they’ve heard or read?

Our colleagues at AWWA have developed a free toolkit, Lead and Drinking Water: Talking with Your Community, that discusses how to get your message out and what the basics of that message might be.  Go to www.awwa.org/leadcommunications and click on each of the four key resource elements:

  • Reach Your Customers
  • Tell the Whole Story
  • Engage Partners
  • Help Schools.

These links include templates for brochures, fact sheets, sample collection procedures, and presentations that you can use when talking to schools.  While not all of the materials may be right for a small system, they can be inspiration for systems to development their own messages.  The title document also contains a list of additional resources such as websites for EPA, CDC, and the Lead Service Line Replacement Collaborative.

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EPA Awards Competitive Grants in a New Two Year Cycle

WASHINGTON (April 11,2018) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing the award of more than $25 million in grants to help the country’s small drinking and wastewater systems and private well owners better protect public health and the environment.

“These grants will fund critical workforce development trainings that will help small systems improve operations and identify when repairs to drinking and wastewater infrastructure are needed in local communities,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “EPA is committed to working with our partners in the states to provide all Americans with clean and safe water.”

Funding will be used to provide small public drinking water and wastewater systems with training and technical assistance to achieve and maintain compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, improve operational performance, and help inform private drinking water well owners about protecting their drinking water supply and improving water quality. The training and assistance will also help system operators identify when critical infrastructure upgrades are needed and how EPA can help support those efforts, which is consistent with the goals and objectives of President Trump’s Infrastructure Plan.

The grantees are:

  • National Rural Water Association
    • $8.1 million: Provide training and technical assistance for small public water systems to achieve and maintain compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act
  • Rural Community Assistance Partnership
    • $8.1 million: Provide training and technical assistance for small public water systems to achieve and maintain compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act
    • $2.2 million: Work with small publicly-owned wastewater and on-site/decentralized wastewater systems to improve water quality
    • $3.4 million: Work with private well owners to improve water quality
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (on behalf of the Environmental Finance Center Network)
    • $3.6 million: Help small drinking water systems improve financial and managerial capacity to provide safe drinking water.

“The EPA grant support of NRWA has provided critical training and technical assistance to small systems across the country for many years,” said Matthew Holmes, NRWA Deputy CEO. This grant has assisted NRWA in establishing a leading nationwide program for Operator Certification Training, Continuing Education training sessions and SDWA compliance support. NRWA looks forward to continuing the program through 2018-2019.”

“RCAP is honored and excited to continue our partnership with EPA,” said Nathan Ohle, Executive Director, RCAP, Inc. These programs help provide small water and wastewater system staff and private well owners with technical assistance and training to ensure that every community across the country is protecting its public health and creating sustainable long-term solutions to drinking water and wastewater issues. Our partnership with EPA is vital to ensuring that small systems have the skills and expertise needed to support the water and wastewater systems that are so important to their community.”

“The Environmental Finance Center Network is grateful that EPA has selected us to continue our work with small drinking water systems on finance and management issues,” said Glenn Barnes, Associate Director, Environmental Finance Center at The University of North Carolina. “Over the last five years, we have worked with water systems of all kinds to address the same challenges: having appropriate revenues, getting the longest life out of infrastructure, having the right staff, accessing funding programs, reducing water and energy inefficiencies, and communicating to decision makers and to the public at large. We are excited for the opportunity to help these water systems better run their operations so that they can continue to provide clean, safe drinking water today and into the future”.

More than 97 percent of the nation’s 150,000 public water systems serve fewer than 10,000 people, and more than 80 percent of these systems serve fewer than 500 people. Many systems face unique challenges in providing reliable drinking water and wastewater services that meet federal and state regulations.

For more information on EPA’s programs and tools to help small water systems, visit: https://www.epa.gov/dwcapacity

EPA’s Monthly Small Water System Webinar Series

Registration is now open for EPA’s Small Drinking Water Systems Webinar on Simultaneous Compliance: Considerations for Adjusting Treatment.

DATE:              April 24, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Click here

This is a two-part broadcast that will consider both simultaneous compliance considerations and best practices (presented by Mike Finn, Office of Water) and the performance of full scale treatment systems for removal of co-occurring inorganic contaminants (presented by Tom Sorg, Office of Research & Development).

NEW:  Knowledge Retention and Preventive Maintenance Log Tools

 

 

EPA has released two interactive tools to support water system operators in providing safe drinking water and protecting public health: the Knowledge Retention Tool and the Electronic Preventive Maintenance Logs.  Both resources can be found at this link, and are available for immediate download.

The Knowledge Retention Tool is a comprehensive Excel spreadsheet to record system management information in a single location, helping to increase organization and coordination among operators.  Designed to assist in personnel transition, the tool encompasses a wide variety of information that a new or contract operator would need to effectively manage and operate a small water system.

The Electronic Preventive Maintenance Logs are an electronic update (zip file) to the Preventive Maintenance Card File for Small Public Water Systems Using Ground Water released in 2004.  This tool includes fillable pdf logs for each month, this tool includes common daily, weekly, and monthly tasks, and a suggested schedule of annual tasks, which assist water system operators in planning and recording preventive operation and maintenance tasks for small drinking water systems.  This tool is designed to equip operators with many of the resources necessary to maintain SDWA compliance and provide safe drinking water to the communities they serve.

Questions?  Please contact EPA’s Leslie Temple at temple.leslie@epa.gov

WaterOperator.org – A Very Helpful Resource

Editor’s Note:  ASDWA invited WaterOperator.org to share some basic info about the program and highlight how it can be used as a resource for both state staff and small system operators.

As a primacy agency, you likely work with a limited and often-shrinking budget to carry out the programs delegated to you under the Safe Drinking Water Act. How you carry out your public health protection duties may look different from your neighboring states, but you share the problem of not having enough time and resources to support your systems the way you would like to.

U.S. EPA’s funding for training and technical assistance is designed to fill in some of those gaps and do so with a national perspective, creating opportunities to serve primacy agencies and water systems alike.  WaterOperator.org is a prime example.

Started in 2009 at the University of Illinois under the USEPA technical assistance centers program, WaterOperator.org provides easy access and relevant information to support you and your water systems. The completely free and unbiased website focuses on the challenges specific to small systems and houses a national training calendar and vast resource library, as well as delivers a twice-monthly newsletter.

Here are some of the key problems with using online information and the solutions WaterOperator.org provides:

  1. Helpful resources buried in confusing websites. Information is hard to find, sometimes even on your own agency’s website. Even if you know what you’re looking for, it can sometimes be a real challenge and time commitment to locate the information. WaterOperator.org provides value-added information for more than 18,000 free and publicly available resources, accessible via a nested search engine. The resources are constantly updated and leverage the best materials from over 800 state and federal agencies, technical assistance providers, trainers, and industry associations. If your website doesn’t have it, chances are someone else around the country does. And with WaterOperator.org, you can find it quickly and easily.

 

  1. Training events spread across multiple pages and sites. Within your jurisdiction, how many organizations are providing drinking water training to your systems? It is likely more than a dozen. WaterOperator.org indexes over 11,000 training events every year, all in one easy to search calendar, so you can feel confident sending operators, utility managers, and local decision-makers to it. WaterOperator.org’s staff has done the legwork to make it easy for you.

 

  1. Lack of time to keep abreast of industry news. Your day to day focuses on helping water systems protect public health. Travel to conferences and staying up to date on drinking water issues is not always easy or possible. WaterOperator.org’s staff are consistently searching for relevant information to support you. Their newsletter, which comes as an email twice each month, provides useful news you can use and share with the communities you serve. Every issue features a free upcoming webinar led by an industry organization, technical assistance provider, or compliance agency, as well as information on the newest resources available.

There’s no substitute for the face-to-face support you provide your water systems.  However, WaterOperator.org provides you access to information that saves time and effort by putting the best news, resources, and training events in one easy-to-access place.

WaterOperator.org is a collaboration between the Rural Community Assistance Partnership and the University of Illinois, funded by the USEPA. The best way to remember this essential tool is by signing up for the WaterOperator.org newsletter. If you and your staff would like more information or a demo of the site, contact WaterOperator.org at info@wateroperator.org.

DWSRF and Capacity Building in Action: Identifying and Prioritizing Systems for DWSRF Assistance

Continuing their ongoing joint webinar series, EPA’s DWSRF and Sustainable Systems Teams are hosting a webinar for states to discuss ways that you can identify and prioritize systems in need of DWSRF assistance.

 

DATE:              Wednesday, March 7

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

REGISTER:      Click here

Join us to learn how Delaware and Pennsylvania collaborated with EPA Region 3 in using EPA’s Enforcement Tracking Tool (ETT) to identify systems in non-compliance, and how assistance was provided to return the systems to compliance and protect public health.

 

EPA Leans in to Water System Partnerships

EPA has launched a new interactive website https://www.epa.gov/dwcapacity/water-system-partnerships to increase awareness about the benefits of drinking water partnerships.  EPA describes partnerships as “…tools to help address the challenges water systems face, with options ranging from informal arrangements, such as sharing equipment, to transferring ownership of a system through consolidation.

Drinking water system partnerships provide opportunities to increase capacity by working together to solve compliance challenges, share costs of operations and maintenance activities, and leverage other resources. EPA’s new website highlights ways partnerships can address these challenges, leading to enhanced public health by working together and sharing information.

The Partnerships website also outlines benefits for state programs such as improved compliance, resource savings, improved customer relations and the potential for a reduction in the number of systems to be regulated.  There’s also a clickable map that briefly describes, by state, the available types of partnership resources.

EPA’s Water System Partnership website provides states, communities, utilities and others with a user-friendly interface to explore the different types of partnerships, success stories across the nation, and national and state resources.  We encourage you to check it out!

Sustainable Systems Team Publishes New Set Aside Analysis Doc

EPA’s Sustainable Systems Team is pleased to announce that the new Analysis of the Use of Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Set-Asides: Building the Capacity of Drinking Water Systems is now posted on the EPA website! This document highlights the ways in which state drinking water programs, including Capacity Development and Operator Certification, have used the DWSRF set-asides to support water systems in building and maintaining capacity in the recent years.  You can view this EPA website for more information about the report and use of DWSRF set-asides.

Also, just a reminder EPA is hosting a webinar to highlight this document and the 2017 DWSRF Eligibility Handbook. The webinar will also include a presentation from Virginia on coordination between their Capacity Development and DWSRF programs.

 

DATE:              Wednesday, November 29, 2017

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

REGISTER:      https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3718129797900846850.

EFCN and AWWA Host Water System Management and Finance for Board Members Webinar

  

This webinar, Water System Management and Finance for Board Members, is designed to be an educational tool to assist board/council members in understanding and operating their water business.

DATE:              Wednesday, November 29

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

REGISTER:      https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6918675100844301058

Water is a business! It is also the foundation of your community’s jobs and future. Like any business, there are risks and options, but is your board/council keeping them in mind? Boards/councils need to know the pros and cons concerning managerial and financial decisions about water. In fact, their job is making the right choices about complex managerial and financial decisions of running a high quality water utility. Yes, it takes time to keep up on the laws, regulations, and rules. However, as a board/council member, you are personally responsible.

EPA to Host DWSRF Set-Asides and Eligibility Handbook Webinar

EPA invites you to register and attend a webinar titled Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and Capacity Building in Action:  Analysis of the Use of DWSRF Set-asides and the DWSRF Eligibility Handbook.

DATE:              Wednesday, November 29

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

REGISTER:      https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3718129797900846850

This webinar will highlight two EPA documents – Analysis of the Use of DWSRF Set-asides and the DWSRF Eligibility Handbook. These documents describe the variety of ways that DWSRF funds can be used for infrastructure improvements as well as programmatic activities and technical assistance through the set-asides. The webinar will also include discussion of state examples that are highlighted in the documents.