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

Advertisements

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!

UNC’s Environmental Finance Center Hosts Webinar on Private Utilities

 

 

 

 

The University of North Carolina’s EFC is hosting a webinar on Private Water and Sewer Companies – Understanding What Their Role May Be with Your System

DATE:              Wednesday, August 9

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

Register:          Register Here

There is a lot of talk about private investors helping with infrastructure investment needs. You may be wondering why they may be interested in your system and if you should be interested in them.

If you are trying to understand more about private water and sewer companies, you probably have many questions. For example:

  • Who are they and how does a private system work?
  • What is your role?
  • What can and can’t they do for you?
  • What about a partnership?

Attendees will have the unique opportunity to ask any and all questions about partnering with private water companies.

 

EPA Webinar Series to Focus on Partnerships

EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) hosts a monthly webinar to focus on small system issues.  This month, ORD has selected Water System Partnerships.

DATE:              Tuesday, May 30

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

REGISTER:      https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8508858086518235395

Join Ellen Tarquinio (EPA OGWDW) and Chad Fisher (CalEPA) as they work through some of the small system challenges that may be resolved through a variety of partnership opportunitiess.  Ellen will provide an introduction to the various types of water system partnerships and how these can benefit small water systems.  Chad will focus on small water system challenges, the advantages of consolidation, the California process and will describe two consolidation case studies.

EPA Sustainable Systems Team Shares Tabletop Exercise

EPA’s Sustainable Systems Team has developed a Tabletop Exercise and Facilitators Guide that states and assistance providers may want to use on their own.  The Sustainable Systems Team has worked through this Exercise a couple of times at National and Regional workshops and the response has been very positive.

The Exercise assigns roles for a variety of state programs and works through a project list that needs input from each of the respective roleplayers.  Projects are prioritized and funding, compliance, and/or assistance decisions are made based on that input.  As noted in the provided materials, the purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate that a better understanding of other state roles, increased communication, and collaboration among different roles, will result in better, more holistic, PWS assistance.  Here’s the link to the Exercise and Facilitator’s Guide:  https://www.epa.gov/dwcapacity/table-top-exercise-collaborating-across-state-drinking-water-programs-support-sustainable

Partnership Discussions

During the first part of March, EPA’s Sustainable Systems Team hosted a webinar to look at Water System Partnerships.  This event was part of the ongoing Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and Capacity Building in Action webinar series.

Ellen Tarquinio (EPA SST) set the stage and provided background on the partnerships concept and what the range of partnerships can look like.  Two states then provided insights into how their capacity development programs supported a range of partnership opportunities.  Thanks to both Karen Torres of New Mexico and Arlene Wyatt of Washington for sharing their approaches!  For those of you who could not participate in the event, ASDWA has included the powerpoint presentations at the link below.

EPA_Presentation_Partnerships

Water System Partnerships Webinar

If you haven’t already signed up, don’t miss the upcoming webinar on Water System Partnerships.  Brought to you by the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and Capacity Building in Action Team, this is the latest in the ongoing series of webinars to highlight ways in which DWSRF set-asides and infrastructure project assistance can be used to build capacity at drinking water systems.

DATE:              March 7, 2017

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

REGISTER:      http://login.icohere.com/registration/register.cfm?reg=3500&evt=030717

The purpose of this webinar is to highlight ways that states are utilizing DWSRF funds to assist water systems in forming partnerships.

Two New Webinars from EFCN

Mark your calendars now for two new small system focused webinars from our colleagues at the Environmental Finance Center Network (EFCN) as part of their training and assistance grant from EPA.

Ask the Expert – Advice on Water System Partnerships

 DATE:              January 12, 2017

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

REGISTER:      https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4679240390727658755

This event explores ways that water systems can partner or collaborate to enhance their performance and capabilities.  The webinar also looks at many of the ‘where do I start and what should I avoid and how do I retain control of my system’ type questions that frequently arise in partnership discussions.  This online forum offers an opportunity for you to ask any and all questions related to water system partnerships and regionalization options.

Achieving Revenue Stability through Your Water Rate Structure

 DATE:              January 19, 2017

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

REGISTER:      https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/132920338571523331

This webinar will explain how demand changes affect revenues and how water utilities can improve their revenue stability by modifying their rate structure design.  The vast majority of a water utility’s revenues is directly dependent on the volume of water sold to customers.  Water demand fluctuates from year to year, and numerous studies have shown that average residential demands are decreasing, placing much of a utility’s revenue at risk.

 

EFC Network Hosts New Small Systems Blog

As part of their efforts under the EPA Training and Technical Assistance Grant award, the Environmental Finance Center Network is offering to connect those with an interest in topics related to water finance and management to their Small Systems Blog.  Common blog topics include asset and energy management, regulatory compliance, fiscal planning and rate setting, funding coordination, water loss reduction, managerial and financial leadership and water system collaboration.

Their latest featured blog post is written by David Tucker, a Project Director at the UNC Chapel Hill EFC.  Click the title to read more The Virtuous Cycle: Internal Energy Revolving Funds for Small Water Systems.

If you’d like to receive this blog on a monthly basis, just click this link Subscribe.