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Region 3 States Meet to Discuss Small System Support

Capacity Development Coordinators from Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, and Maryland met in Martinsburg, WV on June 24th to learn about each other’s programs, discuss common challenges, and identify best practices that could be shared across Region 3 in support of small drinking water systems.  ASDWA was invited to participate as a facilitator for these discussions.  Although entitled the “State and Regional Capacity Development Program and Training Coordinators Meeting,” the gathering also included Operator Certification Coordinators from several of the states which added to the richness of the discussions.  For many, this was a first opportunity to put a face to the names and email addresses of their counterparts in other Region 3 states.
Discussion topics for the one day meeting ranged across program elements, collaboration opportunities, training and technical assistance support, and how states assess the efficacy of their own programs.  Many of the state participants felt that, given reduced resources and increased responsibilities, it is important to take better advantage of alignment opportunities among the capacity development, operator certification, DWSRF, and water emergency preparedness and resiliency programs.
Perhaps one of the more interesting discussions focused on how these states looked at their own Capacity Development program to measure success.  Some of the common data elements that these states use include:  number of improved systems; improved certification and testing scores; improved training results; number of CWSs with certified operators; decreases in unaccounted for water loss (water audit results); number of onsite TA requests and requests for additional assistance; and, in general, the number of major, moderate, and minimal capacity development “issues” over the past year.  States agreed that these, as one part of the potential universe of elements, could be used effectively to demonstrate overall program success for their capacity development strategies for existing systems.
At the end of the day-long discussion, all participants expressed appreciation for the opportunity to come together for such in depth and focused discussions and hoped that this would be the beginning of similar opportunities to come.  Questions about the Region 3 Workshop should be directed to Ghassan Khaled, EPA Region 3, at khaled.ghassan@epa.gov.
Note:  This is the second Region to hold such a meeting this year.  Earlier this month, EPA Region 7 brought together both Capacity Development and Operator Certification Coordinators from Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri to discuss how their programs collaborated and coordinated in support of small systems.  They also looked at some additional topics such as how to manage systems with intractable challenges, incorporating AWOP as a Capacity Development tool, certification reciprocity between states, and a special presentation by EPA’s Water Security Division on available tools that can be used by small water systems to enhance their TMF capabilities as well as their resiliency in times of emergency.  Questions about this Workshop should be sent to Bob Dunlevy, EPA Region 7, at dunlevy.robert@epa.gov.