11th Annual US EPA Drinking Water Workshop – A Success

From September 9-11, state program staff and administrators from more than 40 states joined more than 200 of their colleagues from EPA HQ and Regions and other water community partners to meet once again in Cincinnati, Ohio for the Drinking Water Workshop.  The workshop focused on a wide variety of challenges and solutions for small drinking water systems.

After warm welcomes from Cynthia Sonich-Mullin, Director of the National Risk Management Research Laboratory (NRMRL) of the Office of Research and Development (ORD) and Lek Kadeli, Acting Assistant Administrator for ORD, attendees heard from Peter Grevatt, Director of the Agency’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, about the array of challenges facing the water community; but also about potential paths forward to meet and overcome these barriers to success in our common mission of public health protection.  ASDWA, AWWA, and WaterRF all provided perspectives on strategies and technologies — from policy and research to ‘on the ground’ implementation — designed to support small systems.

Workshop sessions delved into a broad range of issues that directly affect small systems as well as those that may not have “small systems” in their title but which nonetheless impact their performance.  Using a concurrent session format, attendees heard presentations relating to distribution systems, consecutive systems, premise plumbing, water supply, RTCR, nutrients, treatment, emerging contaminants, and disinfection and source water protection.  Time was also reserved for more in-depth discussions on the implications and impacts on small systems of various efforts related to new technologies, noncommunity systems, water scarcity and reuse, RTCR implementation, and effective communications strategies.  There was even time for an “Ask the Experts” breakout discussion.

On the last day, participants heard about the establishment of two new Small Systems Technology Innovation Centers.  EPA has awarded $4 million each to groups headed by the University of Colorado-Boulder and University of Massachusetts-Amherst to undertake studies of technology needs; develop and test low cost technologies; and evaluate appropriateness of innovative technologies for the small systems community.