Newsletter #169 for August 2, 2016
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Infrastructure Crisis Bubbles to the Surface

Photo by John Hickey, Buffalo News
New York's Erie County Water Authority reported 11 separate water main breaks last month in six communities. The events occurred just a week after a major break in the county triggered a boil water advisory. The system experiences about 1,100 breaks a year, and an authority spokesman said the high rate of repairs is caused by declining infrastructure. Click here to read more

These are just a handful of a growing list of events highlighting the importance of infrastructure investment. Rate increases play a key role in such investments, but the process is far from simple. Here are a few tips originally shared on the blog to help you gain community buy-in and effectively communicate the need for raising rates. 
  • Timing is key. Community events, especially elections, can have a significant influence on the success of an increase.
  • Anticipating customer concerns and providing answers to questions about the need for the increase, cost efficiency, and how the change will affect individuals up front can do a lot to misunderstandings and foster public support.
  • Whether you're talking to a customers or the board, your messages should be succinct and consistent. Statements like, "Water reliability is at risk due to the need to upgrade the distribution system," clearly convey what is at stake and what actions can be taken.
  • Your local media can be a beneficial partner in utility communication, particularly if you have taken steps to cultivate a relationship.
  • Working with community stakeholders like environmental groups, industries, and even neighboring utilities can lend credibility to your messages and create champions for the rate adjustment. 
For more tips on gaining and maintaining public support, click here

Water and Wastewater Competency Model Webinar Now Available Online

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. EPA hosted a webinar focused on a recently-updated model identifying the specific competencies required for those working in the water and wastewater industry. The event maxed out the number of connections allowed at the time, but you can now watch the webinar anytime online. A water case study based on presentations showing how the model was used in Colorado is also available here

Click here for more information and to download the industry model and worksheets. 

Recently at

Common Distribution System Deficiencies
This article from Spigot News covers different aspects of the distribution system, including cross-connection, backflow, depressurization events, water age and infrastructure deterioration. 

Tribal Utility News Subscribers Give Us Insight into Tribal System Needs
Our Tribal Utility News subscriber survey gives insights into the unique challenges and needs facing tribal utilities.

Common Treatment Deficiencies
This article from Spigot News is the second installment in a series of articles to help small water systems identify the most common problems found during a sanitary survey or other investigatory site visit conducted by Ohio EPA staff. 

Developing a Better Understanding of Drinking Water Technology Approval: WINSSS Center Project B1
When EPA in 2014 chose to fund the National Centers for Innovation in Small Drinking Water Systems, their vision for the Centers was much more than developing new drinking water technologies. This post walks through the non-treatment pieces of the vision. 

Common Source Water Deficiencies
This Spigot News article covers the Ohio EPA sanitary survey or other investigatory site visits conducted at the water source and concentrates on the most common deficiencies found during the visit of small public water systems. 

Free Webinar

Preventing Disease Outbreaks in Your Water System
Wednesday, August 17 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific
Hosted by the Rural Community Assistance Corporation

Learn about types of disease-causing organisms that are of concern for water systems, the regulations addressing them, and how to operate and maintain your water systems to minimize the possibility of microbial contamination.

Click here for more information.
Want to find additional training opportunities for operators,
including events in your area?
Search the Training Calendar

Free Resource

Tapping into Community Participation to Address Water Quality Issues in New Water Supply
Pacific Northwest Section American Water Works Association

This 41-slide presentation documents the water system's public outreach/engagement efforts in Longview, WA during a difficult period of facility/infrastructure transition. In particular, the presentation covers the process of narrowing down water supply options from the multitude available, the process of gathering stakeholder input and support including surveys, print materials, polling, media releases, selection of a Customer Advisory Committee, and the creation of an improvement study. Employing a decision-support framework guided the CAC towards specific recommendations. 

Click here to view.
Have a different question?
You can find thousands of helpful resources in our database.
Search the Document Database

Featured Video: Unlocking Investment in Rural America

This video highlights the USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Relending Program, which works with private sector, non-profit, and philanthropic organizations to unlock more than $500 million in federal funds for areas of persistent poverty. To learn more about how USDA works with eligible re-lenders visit the Community Facilities Relending Program page. To learn more about how philanthropic organizations leverage USDA funds, visit

Click here to watch the video
Have a great video? We're dedicated to bringing you helpful, entertaining, or inspiring videos to you. If your organization has a relevant video to share, let us know!

Share This

DYK more than 70% of the world is covered by water, but less than 1% of that is accessible and drinkable?


Share This offers useful of interesting information that can be shared with the public and other stakeholders.

Reading Selections

Evidence of THC Found in Colorado Town's Water Supply
Field test have revealed a presumptive positive for the principal psychoactive chemical in marijuana in the water supply of Hugo, Colorado. 

Experimental Energy Sustainable Wastewater Treatment Plant Constructed
Researchers in Europe are hoping to verify whether the wastewater treatment process can generate energy at the same time. 

Corrosive Tap Water Linked to Legionnaires' Outbreaks in Flint
A study published in July has revealed that tainted tap water likely contributed to Legionnaires' outbreaks in 2014 and 2015. 

This Community in Canada Doesn't Have Clean Drinking Water After an Oil Spill 
A First Nation community in Saskatchewan has declared a state of emergency after an oil spill forced officials to shut off its water supply. 

EPA Touts 'Strides' in Reducing Algae in Drinking Water
U.A. EPA's deputy assistant administrator said in a letter to U.S. Representative Fred Upton last month that the strategic plan developed to address the risk of toxic algae in drinking water is yielding positive results. 
Did you miss our last newsletter? Click here to view the archive.

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