Capacity Development is a process for water systems to acquire and maintain adequate technical, managerial and financial (TMF) capacity. TMF capacity enables water systems to have the capability to consistently provide safe drinking water to the public.
Capacity development is a fundamental component of the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Amendments. The SDWA Amendments provide a framework for states and water systems to work together to protect public health. Every state has developed a Capacity Development Program to assist public water systems in building TMF capacity.
Any water system can implement capacity development activities to increase their TMF capacity. Small systems can especially benefit from capacity development. EPA is committed to helping small water systems provide safe drinking water through publications, training, and technical and financial assistance.
Local officials and consumers play an important role in helping small water systems meet regulatory requirements and protect public health. Besides protecting public health, communities that support their water systems are making long-term investments in sustainable communities and economic well-being.
The 1996 SDWA Amendments created a number of specific requirements and programs designed to develop the capacity of small systems. However, it is unique in that it is not a traditional regulatory program. Capacity development is a state effort to help drinking water systems improve their finances, management, infrastructure, and operations so they can provide safe drinking water consistently, reliably, and cost-effectively. More specifically, the capacity development provisions provide an exceptionally flexible framework within which states and water systems can work together to ensure that systems acquire and maintain the technical, financial, and managerial capacity to consistently achieve the health objectives of the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act.
States and EPA worked together to develop the implementation guidance for this program:
- Guidance on Implementing the Capacity Development Provisions of the 1996 SDWA Amendments (July, 1998)
More recently, states and EPA worked to design and reach concurrence on common reporting elements across state programs as part of the annual implementation assessment conducted by EPA Regions:
- Annual Reporting Criteria for State Capacity (June 2005)
EPA and the states have collaborated on a wide array of tools designed to assist small systems in their efforts to attain and maintain technical, financial, and managerial capacity. Some of the most useful of these tools are:
STEP Guides These Simple Tools for Effective Performance guides offer clearly stated, step-by-step information to help small systems better understand complex regulatory requirements or policy initiatives. At present, EPA has published seven STEP Guides:
- Drinking Water Security for Small Systems Serving 3,300 or Fewer Persons: One of the Simple Tools for Effective Perfromance (STEP) Guide Series (PDF – 4,291 KB – 47 pp 12/05)
- Strategic Planning: A Handbook for Small Water Systems — One of the Simple Tools for Effective Performance (STEP) Guide Series (EPA 816-R-03-015, September 2003, 1550KB PDF)
- Asset Management: A Handbook for Small Water Systems — One of the Simple Tools for Effective Performance (STEP) Guide Series (EPA 816-R-03-016, September 2003, 976KB PDF)
- Taking Stock of Your Water System: A Simple Asset Inventory for Very Small Drinking Water Systems (920 K PDF FILE, 45 pgs) (EPA 816-K-03-002, October, 2004)
- Sources of Technical and Financial Assistance for Small Drinking Water Systems (EPA 816-K-02-005, July 2002, 1.5MB PDF)
- Small Systems Guide to Safe Drinking Water Act Regulations: The First STEP to Providing Safe and Reliable Drinking Water — One of the Simple Tools for Effective Performance [STEP] Guide Series (PDF, 3M) (EPA 816-R-03-017, September 2003)
- Complying With the Revised Drinking Water Standard for Arsenic: Small Entity Compliance Guide — One of the Simple Tools for Effective Performance (STEP) Guide Series (PDF File) (EPA 816-R-02-008A, August 2002)
- A Small Systems Guide to the Total Coliform Rule (PDF, 5.6M) (EPA 816-R-01-017A, June 2001)
Quick Reference Guides These one page (front and back) information sheets provide basic information about a variety of EPA regulatory requirements:
- Arsenic and Clarifications to Compliance and New Source Monitoring Rules: A Quick Reference Guide(EPA 816-F-01-004 January 2001)
- Filter Backwash Recycling Rule: A Quick Reference Guide (EPA 816-F-01-019 June 2001)
- Interim Enhanced Surface Water Rule: A Quick Reference Guide (EPA 816-F-01-011 May 2001)
- Long Term 1 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule: A Quick Reference Guide (EPA 816-F-01-001, May 2001)
- Radionuclides Rule: A Quick Reference Guide (EPA 816-F-01-003 June 2001)
- Stage 1 Disinfection and Disinfection Byproducts Rule: Laboratory Quick Reference Guide (EPA 816-F-02-021 January 2002)
- Stage 1 Disinfection and Disinfection Byproducts Rule: A Quick Reference Guide (EPA 816-F-02-021 December 2002rev1)
- Total Coliform Rule: A Quick Reference Guide (EPA 816-F-01-035 November 200)
- Consumer Confidence Report Rule: A Quick Reference Guide (EPA 816-F-02-026 November 2002)
- Lead and Copper Rule: A Quick Reference Guide (EPA 816-F-04-009 March 2004)
- Standardized Monitoring Framework (EPA816-F-04-010 March 2004)
- Variances and Exemptions: A Quick Reference Guide (112 K PDF FILE, 4pgs) (EPA 816-F-04-005 September 2004)