AWWA Offers Free Op Cert Exam Prep Materials

Our colleagues at AWWA are offering two helpful reference sheets – one on math and one on chemistry – that operators may find useful as they study for their certification exams.  As AWWA says, “These reference sheets contain useful formulas, conversions and other pieces of information that you may need to know for your operator certification exam.  Check with your state for more specific instructions on what you need to know.”

 

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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

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.

Certification Prep Tools from AWWA

Our colleagues at the American Water Works Association are offering two opportunities – a free app and a pre-order form for a certification exam prep workbook.  Read below for more information…

Download the free app today and get started studying…

Study Anywhere
No internet connection required.
Vetted by Experts
Q&As have been reviewed by water industry experts.
Track Your Progress
Understand where you need to focus with detailed results and cumulative history charts.
Access on Multiple Devices
Study on your phone, tablet, or desktop. Login to any device and see where you left off.
See Answers Explained
Every math question includes a detailed explanation.
Study by Subject or Level
Questions can be sorted by subject matter and both intro and advanced question sets are available.

 

The app includes 20 free sample questions and additional question sets are only $19 each!

For more information, click https://awwaexamprep.com/

Get the new exam prep book…

1,400+ all-new practice questions and answers so that you can take your water operator certification exam with confidence!

  • Vetted and approved by water industry experts
  • Meets the latest ABC Need-to-Know Criteria
  • Arranged by subject matter and topic for easy reference

Available for Pre-Order | Arrives in AWWA Warehouse next week.

For more information, click https://www.awwa.org/store/productdetail.aspx?productid=66247620

Water Systems Council WellCare Takes on Preparedness

Many of you may already be familiar with WellCare, a feature of the Water Systems Council that works with private well owners.  They have put together a variety of useful resources and recommendations for well owners.  We encourage you to share these recommendations with private well owners in your communities. Please read below for more information.

Don’t let your summer become a bummer by being unprepared if your water well is impacted by a flood or natural disaster. We’ve gathered all the resources you’ll need to maintain and manage your water well in the event of an emergency, so keep reading!

Be Prepared:  #Itonlytakesone storm to demolish an entire town. Be prepared before these storms strike! Take the time now to write down your hurricane plan. Know where you will ride out the storm and get your supplies now. There are many resources available to help with #HurricanePrep and preparation for other natural disasters:

Emergencies/Disasters and Wells:  If a natural disaster has occurred on or near your property, there are some things you need to know about your drinking water supply. If in doubt about your water supply, follow local or state health department drinking and bathing advisories. Remember that there is danger of electrical shock from any electrical device that has been flooded; consult a certified electrician. Rubber boots and gloves are not adequate protection from electrical shock.

Septic systems should not be used immediately after floods. Drain fields will not work until underground water has receded. Septic lines may have been broken during flooding or other storms. Contact a local septic service immediately. Only trained specialists should clean or repair septic tanks because tanks may contain dangerous gases. In most emergency situations, obtaining bottled water is the most commonly promoted way to access safe drinking water. Do not rely on water treatment filters or devices that are NOT certified for microbial reduction as they may not provide the protection necessary for emergency situations. Consult a water professional or manufacturer for more information.  However, if the water only needs to be disinfected to be potable, there are four main options to treat water to make it safe for consumption:

  • Boiling
  • Chlorination
  • Distillation
  • Water treatment devices certified for microbial reduction of bacteria, cysts, and viruses

Prepare yourself in advance by downloading our wellcare® Information Sheet on Emergencies & Disasters and Wells and by finding the emergency agencies in your state on our Emergency Agencies interactive map.. The wellcare® Hotline can also help!

Managing a Flooded Well:  If you live in an area that was recently flooded, your private well may be in danger of contamination from pollutants carried by flood water or at risk of shock from waterlogged well equipment. Here are some steps you should follow after a flood:

  • Do not drink or wash with your well water. You could get sick from contaminants washed into the well by the flood.
  • Do not turn on the well pump. There is a danger of electrical shock and damage to your well or pump if they were flooded.
  • Contact your water well contractor for help in dealing with the impacts of the flood on your water quality and well system.

You should suspect water contamination any time your well casing becomes flooded, if your well is shallow and you are near areas that have been flooded, or if you notice taste, color, or sediment changes in your water. Find a safe alternative source for drinking, cooking, and washing until a water test proves your water is safe. If you can’t find a convenient source of safe water, boil your well water vigorously for one minute. If you live in an altitude greater than one mile above sea level, increase boiling time to three minutes.

Many times when your area experiences flooding or a natural disaster, your local health department or state environmental agency will provide free or low cost testing for well owners. If free or low cost water testing is not available, visit our Water Well Testing page. For more information on managing a flooded well, download Managing a Flooded Well.

Disinfecting a Well: If your well has been flooded, you will need to disinfect it. Luckily, disinfecting your well at home is fairly simple using household bleach and food grade white vinegar. Make sure to use a new bottle of unscented bleach, as it can lose potency over time. Don’t use stabilized swimming pool chlorine products or non-chlorinated “pool shock” products, as they are not effective enough to clean drinking water. Watch this video to see how it’s done.

Drought and Wells: Summer can also deliver drought conditions that can result in problems for your water well. During periods of drought, there are some things you can do to manage water levels and help prevent your well from going dry:

  • Measure water levels — Knowing the exact yield of your well is critical to managing the use of water or considering options to expand the supply.
  • Manage water levels — If you have a low yielding well – producing less than five gallons per minute – you should be very careful how much demand you place on it. Conserve water as much as possible.
  • Add water storage — Adding storage can help provide greater capacity when water levels are low and allows your well to rest and recharge. Bonus! It helps prolong the life of your well pump as it reduces the need for your pump to cycle as often.

Ask your water well contractor about some other options to reach water within your existing well. Download our wellcare® Information Sheet on Drought and Your Well for additional tips on managing your well during a drought.

Well Financing Options: Too often, urgently needed water well repair is not done because well owners cannot afford it. This video from the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) shows the financing options available for well owners. Additional resources for obtaining financing for water well repair or improvements include the Water Well Trust, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), and USDA Rural Development

Water Testing for Irrigation Wells: When testing the quality of water that is used for gardening and lawn irrigation, several specific measurements will help determine the effect the water will have on soil and plants. For example, water containing high concentrations of sodium can decrease plant growth. Other substances present in water may clog household irrigation systems and discolor walkways and exteriors including physical solids such as sand and silt, and dissolved solids like hardness, iron, and manganese. Learn more about the water tests that are important for gardening and lawn irrigation. Download our wellcare® Information Sheet on Testing Water for Gardening and Lawn Irrigation

More Free Resources: Available for free download: Real Estate Professionals: Buying or Selling a Home with a Well and Renting a Home with a Well

For more assistance or information, call the wellcare® Hotline at 888-395-1033, complete an online form, or chat with us live!

Upcoming Webinars for Small Water Systems

The Environmental Finance Center Network (EFCN) is hosting three new webinars focused on small system needs.  Please share these learning opportunities with your state’s small systems, assistance providers, and other interested parties.

  1. ENCOURAGING CUSTOMERS TO CONSERVE – PRICING AND NON-PRICING APPROACHES

DATE:    Thursday, May 31, 2018

TIME:    2:00-3:00PM (eastern)

REGISTER:  Click here

Water systems have a variety of reasons for wanting to encourage conservation, from environmental benefits to limited supply or treatment capacity. This webinar will explore pricing and non-pricing strategies that water systems can use to encourage their customers to conserve water. Attendees will learn how those approaches impact the system’s ability to cover the full cost of providing safe drinking water today and into the future.

 

  1. EPA TOOLS FOR SMALL PUBLIC SYSTEM WATER OPERATORS: ELECTRONIC PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE LOGS

DATE:              Tuesday, June 19, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Click here

This webinar features EPA’s updated tool, “Preventive Maintenance for Small Public Water Systems Using Ground Water.” The event will feature the many advantages of implementing a preventative maintenance program. Participants will learn where to find the new electronic preventative maintenance logs and how to use the interactive PDF.

 

  1. HOW TO MOTIVATE YOUR EMPLOYEES AND KEEP YOUR CUSTOMERS HAPPY

DATE:              Wednesday, June 27, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Click here

Employees are a utility’s most important asset. How do you maintain this asset so that that employees are happy and motivated when they come to work? Does having happy employees help you have happy customers? Although a utility can’t control when a customer complaint will arise, they can control how employees and leaders handle the situation.

This webinar will teach utilities how to effectively address customer complaints and how to use strategic communication to increase customer and employee satisfaction. The webinar will also explore the relationship between employees and customers.

WaterOperator.org Hosts NCWS Resource Webinars

Our colleagues at WaterOperator.org invite you to help spread the word about two webinar opportunities (same content – just different days) geared toward noncommunity public water systems and those who serve them.

The webinars will introduce their free online course that helps owners and operators of noncommunity public water systems with a groundwater well better understand how to properly care for their water supply. The course curriculum includes the basic science of groundwater, well mechanics, and source water protection best practices.

DATE:              May 29, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Here

 

DATE:              June 6, 2018

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

REGISTER:      Here

The webinar will also highlight some of WaterOperator.org’s most interesting features and how to use the site more effectively for your work.

Though the online course and webinar are geared towards noncommunity systems, very small community water supplies using groundwater may also find the information useful.  Please share this opportunity with your water systems, assistance providers, and colleagues with an interest in this subject.