New Rate Checkup Online Tool

Wichita State University’s Training and Technology Team (T3) has developed an easy-to-use online forecasting tool to assist smaller water systems with setting appropriate water rates.

The Rate Checkup Online Tool is designed to help water systems calculate water rate schedules.  The Tool allows you to:

  • Input data in easy to manage interfaces
  • View integrated data validation
  • Forecast water rates based on customer groups
  • Generate custom reports with charts in various formats.

To learn more about the Tool and the University’s T3 program, go to http://www.tthree.org/rate-checkup/ and/or contact Amy Jones, T3 Project Manager at Wichita State at amy.jones@wichita.edu

RCAP Seeks New Executive Director

The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) seeks an experienced and politically savvy Executive Director who is a passionate advocate for rural communities, and has a strong track record of leading organizations through transitions.  As many of you know, Robert Stewart has held the position for 11 years and has made the decision to move back to Texas.

RCAP is looking for a strategic leader that can build on the organization’s excellent track record of delivering high quality services, information, and resources to rural communities.  RCAP is a nonprofit service delivery network comprised of a national office in Washington, DC and six regional partners.  For more information and a full description of the position and the organization, please visit http://rcap.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/RCAP-Executive-Director-Position.pdf.

EFCN and AWWA Partner on Small System Webinars

EFCN and AWWA, under the Competitive Award Grants provided by EPA, have shared a list of upcoming webinar opportunities for states, assistance providers, and small utilities.  See below for more details.

Communicating with the Public about Water Infrastructure

 DATE:              Thursday, February 9

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

REGISTER:      Register

Issues such as drinking water contaminants, algal blooms, and increased utility rates can put a community on edge.  This webinar will address how best to communicate with the public in a way that will garner support and encourage public engagement.  Participants will learn tools for communicating with their customers directly and through media outlets, as well as effective messaging for maximum impact.

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Financing for the Future – Financial Longevity for Municipal Operations

 DATE:              Thursday, February 16

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

REGISTER:      Register

With increasing demand on utilities, expanding or declining populations, and the need for future infrastructure repair, it is necessary to look beyond the sort term financial planning and look towards financing for the future.  This webinar will introduce methods that can be used for budgeting for the future.  Participants will gain an understanding of how they can project for future changes and risks, and create a financial plan that will ensure there is money to address these events as they occur.

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Water Audits and Water Loss Control:  Gathering Your Data

DATE:              Wednesday, March 1

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

REGISTER:      Register

The hardest part of completing a water audit or determining the categories of your non-revenue water, by far, is just getting started. The first step is finding and collecting your data.  Knowing what data you need, where to look for it, what some of the potential issues with the data may be, and how you can improve data in the future is your starting place.  This webinar will cover all of those topics to help make it easier for you to start the process.

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Preparing Winning Financing Applications for Water Infrastructure Projects

 DATE:              Thursday, March 9

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

REGISTER:    Register

This webinar will showcase some of the federal funding programs related to financing water infrastructure projects.  It will highlight some tools that you can use to enhance your application, and better plan for the financial management of your utility.  Tools include intentional rate setting practices, asset management, capital improvement planning, and customer affordability analyses.

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Water Audits and Water Loss Control:  Entering Your Data into the Spreadsheet

DATE:              Wednesday, March 22

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

REGISTER:      Register

The water audit process starts by gathering your data. That process was described in the webinar on February 7th. Once the data is collected, you are ready to enter it into the free Water Audit Spreadsheet from AWWA.  This webinar will discuss how and where to enter the data as well as determining the appropriate data grades for your information.

EPA Awards $12.7 Million to Assist Small Drinking Water and Wastewater Systems

Today, EPA is awarding $12.7 million in grants to help small drinking and wastewater systems and private well owners.  Since 2009, EPA has provided $95 million in technical assistance grants to assist small drinking water and wastewater systems and private well owners.  Water systems staff will receive training and technical assistance to improve operations and management practices, promote system sustainability, and better protect public health and the environment.  The selected grantees are:

  • $4.0 million each to the National Rural Water Association and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership to help small public water systems across the country achieve and maintain compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • $1.8 million to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to improve the financial and managerial capabilities of small public water systems across the country.
  • $1.7 million to the Rural Community Assistance Partnership to inform private drinking water well owners about protecting their drinking water supply and improving water quality.
  • $1.2 million to the National Rural Water Association to improve operational performance at small publicly-owned wastewater systems and decentralized wastewater systems, thereby improving public health and water quality.

Correction – despite the earlier press release from EPA, the $1.2M for wastewater training was actually awarded to RCAP not NRWA.

More than 97 percent of the nation’s 157,000 public drinking water systems serve fewer than 10,000 people, and more than 80 percent of these systems serve fewer than 500 people. Many small systems face unique challenges in providing reliable drinking water and wastewater services that meet federal and state regulations. These challenges can include a lack of financial resources, aging infrastructure, and high staff turnover.

More information can be found at http://www.epa.gov/dwcapacity/training-and-technical-assistance-small-systems-funding#rfa

RCAP Adds to Video Library

The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) has released three new videos on the subject of water quality in storage tanks.  These videos highlight the importance of storage tank inspection and maintaining water quality.  This brings the total number of training videos in the RCAP Video Library to 39!  You are encouraged to use them as a standalone resource or as part of a training program.  Go to https://vimeo.com/rcap/videos and take a look at:

  • Conducting a Periodic Inspection: Elements of a periodic inspection are shown for variety of storage tanks.
  • Types of Storage Tank Inspections: Discusses the three types of storage tank inspection – routine, periodic and comprehensive inspection.
  • Water Quality in Storage Facilities: Discusses the challenges associated with maintenance of water quality during storage.

Thanks RCAP!

Financing Recovery and Mitigation – A Free Webinar Series

Learning about funding opportunities and how to access them is important for all members of the small system community. EPA is hosting two new webinars that showcase available funding for both disaster recovery efforts and resilience mitigation projects.  Please share these webinar discussions with your smaller systems.

Disaster Recovery Financing

DATE:              November 22

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

REGISTER:      https://www.eventbrite.com/e/disaster-recovery-financing-tickets-28791523221

This event describes how states and communities use SRF, FEMA, and other financing approaches to recover from a disaster. Utility and state speakers will share tips and examples.

Resilience Mitigation Financing

DATE:              December 7

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

REGISTER:      https://www.eventbrite.com/e/resilience-mitigation-financing-tickets-28791849196

This event focuses on tools and financing resources to conduct resilience planning and to mitigate impacts before a disaster strikes. Utilities will share stories about investing in resilient infrastructure.

 

EPA Webinar Covers Latest Competitive Awards for Small Systems Assistance

On September 21, EPA OGWDW hosted a webinar for state drinking water program staff involved with the training and technical assistance grant competitive award program.  Successful awardees from the FY 15 competition – RCAP, NRWA, and EFCN – each described their program and proposed approach for this effort that encompasses small system drinking water compliance assistance, financial and managerial assistance, and assistance for private well owners.  In all, $11.7 million was awarded for these initiatives.  A separate wastewater award was not part of the webinar’s focus.

For those of you not able to participate in the web event, EPA has provided a consolidated powerpoint presentation from all three awardees.  In addition, EPA have developed a fact sheet about the purpose of and process for the awards.  The fact sheet also outlines roles and responsibilities for assistance providers, state primacy agencies, and EPA Regional and Headquarters offices.  See below for these two items.

consolidated-rollout-webinar-slides-sep2016-final

training-and-technical-assistance-grants-factsheet-sep-2016

Affordability and Succession Planning Webinar Reminders

Just a Reminder – Two Helpful Webinars from EFCN and AWWA

Are Your Rates Too High – Looking at Affordability of Water Rates

DATE:  September 13, 2016

TIME:   2:00-3:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:  http://efcnetwork.org/events/webinar-rates-high-looking-affordability-water-rates

This webinar will demonstrate how the “Water and Wastewater Residential Rates Affordability Assessment Tool” can be used to assess the level of affordability in the community, using parameters beyond the Median Household Income (MHI). The webinar will also include information and resources on how to design an assistance program for those customers who cannot afford their water bills. The programs highlighted will include options related to rates, as well as water efficiency.

 

Succession Planning

DATE:  September 15

TIME:   2:00-3:00PM (eastern)

REGISTERhttp://efcnetwork.org/events/webinar-succession-planning/

With an aging workforce and declining interest and engagement from younger professionals entering the workforce, developing a succession plan is a vital component to managing water infrastructure. This webinar will touch on the topics of recruitment, retention and will do a detailed review of how to develop a succession plan.

 

Reminder – Risk Assessment Webinar and Discussion Coming Soon!

Just a reminder to register for the latest in the AWWA-EFCN webinar series for small systems titled Determining the Risk Assessment Risk Analysis Discussion and Available Tools.

DATE:              August 24, 2016

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

REGISTER:      https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6280432783389502978

One of the five core components of Asset Management is to determine the criticality of each of your assets. This can be accomplished by completing a risk analysis. When completing the risk analysis you have to ask two questions about each asset. First, how likely is it that the asset will fail?  And second, what are the consequences if the asset does fail?  There are many things to consider when answering these two questions. This webinar includes a discussion about completing an asset risk analysis and will review a newly developed tool that can assist you in determining what factors to consider when evaluating probability of failure and consequence of failure by asset category.

Webinar Questions? Contact Khris Dodson at kdodson@syracusecoe.org.

Training Questions? Contact Kami Johle Butt at kbutt@awwa.org.

New EFCN/AWWA Webinars

Our colleagues at the Environmental Finance Center Network (EFCN) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) are partnering once again under the competitive grant award from EPA to bring helpful information to small drinking water systems.  See below for the latest in the series.

Determining the Risk:  Asset Management Risk Analysis Discussion and Available Tools

EFCN’s Heather Himmelberger will lead this discussion.

DATE:              August 24, 2016

TIME:               1:30-2:320 (eastern)

REGISTER:      https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6280432783389502978

One of the five core components of Asset Management is to determine the criticality of each of your assets.  This can be accomplished by completing a risk analysis, which requires you to ask two questions about each asset:  How likely is it that the asset will fail? and What are the consequences if the asset does fail?  This webinar includes a discussion about completing an asset risk analysis, and will review a newly developed tool that can assist you in determining what factors to consider when evaluating probability of failure and consequence of failure by asset category.

Are Your Rates Too High?  Looking at Affordability of Water Rates

EFCN’s Stacey Isaac Berahzer will lead this discussion.

DATE:              September 13, 2016

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

REGISTER:      https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4120863303929067265

Concerns over affordability often stymie a needed rate increase. In many cases, the utility has not performed the relevant analyses to determine how extensive affordability concerns really are.  This webinar will demonstrate how the “Water and Wastewater Residential Rates Affordability Assessment Tool” can be used to assess the level of affordability in the community, using parameters beyond the Median Household Income (MHI).  The webinar will also include information and resources on how to design an assistance program for those customers who cannot afford their water bills. The programs highlighted will include options related to rates, as well as water efficiency.