ASDWA Hosts Webinar on Capacity Development and Source Water Protection Collaboration

On October 9th, ASDWA hosted a webinar on “Capacity Development and Source Water Protection Collaboration” to explore opportunities for state drinking water program staff to work more closely together to help their small water systems sustain and enhance compliance.  Approximately 80 people from 42 states attended the webinar.  ASDWA extends “many thanks” to Loralei Walker and Kitty Weisman of Washington and Lyn Poorman and John Grace from the State of Maryland who provided on-the-ground examples of how their states’ source water protection and capacity development staff are collaborating to help solve small system problems.

 

One of the questions asked of the presenters was, “When working toward a longer term source water solution for a small system, what types of capacity development strategies or tools do you (or can you) use to help the water system with compliance issues in the interim?”  Our Washington presenters offered the following reply that we believe captures the essence of how capacity development and source water protection programs can align to support small system needs:

 

Washington State:  When working with small systems on long-term source water protection solutions and underlying Technical, Managerial, and Financial (TMF) capacity issues, we often start by formalizing a team with the expertise to help the system’s governing body develop and implement a strategy to manage their challenges. This team can include:

 

  • Technical assistance providers such as Rural Water and RCAC, often funded through DWSRF set-aside contracts.
  • A staff person from the Small Communities Initiative, which is a collaborative effort between state Departments of Commerce, Health, and Ecology.  This person provides the primary leadership and coordination to develop and navigate the plan for the system http://www.commerce.wa.gov/Services/localgovernment/Pages/Small-Communities-Initiative.aspx).
  • State staff such as planners, engineers, contract managers, and the capacity  development coordinator.
  • Local partners such as water system staff that can act as mentors and have a vested interest in helping the nearby community find solutions.
  • Water system customers that might have the interest and ability to add to the governing body’s capacity.

 

We also offer the following tools and services as the water system’s strategy is being implemented:

 

  • Board training and assistance on board roles, responsibilities, by-laws, policies, communication, and other organizational support.
  • Rate studies, rate structures, and rate-setting to encourage conservation and ensure high users pay their share.
  • Asset management, including system component assessment and condition rating, prioritizing improvements.
  • Water audits to identify and resolve costly leaks.
  • Research and coordination on grant and loan opportunities that the system can qualify for.

 

In addition, Washington’s compliance policy allows flexibility if a system is showing that they are making progress.  We can issue bilateral compliance agreements that give the system time to implement solutions without ongoing penalties.

 

As mentioned in the webinar, Washington State uses the DWSRF set-asides (the 15% Local Assistance & Other State Programs set-aside) to fund:

 

  • Two technical assistance contracts to RCAC (1 FTE for capacity technical assistance) and Evergreen Rural Water (1 FTE for source water protection technical assistance). We use these contracts to help water systems address compliance issues while also helping them build capacity for the long term.

 

  • Two grant programs including:  the Source Water Protection Grant Program helps systems address compliance problems related to source water protection; and the Restructuring and Consolidation Grant Program helps water systems address a variety of compliance problems by exploring the feasibility of restructuring or consolidating with a compliant water system that demonstrates capacity.

 

To view the presentations and an audio/video recording of the webinar with presentation slides, visit:  www.asdwa.org/swcapdevwebinar2013. Discussion questions and answers will also be posted within the next week.

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