Capacity Development

Capacity Development/Operator Certification Workshop: 2020

ASDWA/EPA’s Capacity Development and Operator Certification Workshop 2020 explores strategies on operator training and testing during the pandemic, collaborative actions of the capacity development and operator certification programs to improve compliance, and procedures to build financial resilience. The playlist below includes all of the video captures from each session. To view more information or register for additional sessions, visit the Workshop Event page.

What is Capacity Development?

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.

Capacity Development 101 Webinar

What is Asset Management?

Asset management is a process within capacity development that involves maintaining a desired level of customer service for public water systems (PWSs) to provide at the lowest life cycle cost. PWSs need asset management to address aging water infrastructure, make sound investment decisions to maximize limited financial resources, and make costs transparent to support financial decisions. With a proper plan for asset management, a PWS can improve service and reliability, reduce risk and unexpected costs, and enhance communication with customers and stakeholders while realizing many additional benefits.

The following document shares initiatives states are taking to promote asset management.


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:

America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA) Section 2012, requires state drinking water programs to consider and include as appropriate asset management into their state capacity development strategies. Consistent with this statutory change, state drinking water programs are expected to revise their capacity development strategies to include a description of how asset management will be promoted through addressing the five-core-question framework of asset management by December 31, 2021.

1. What is the current state of the utility’s assets?
2. What is the utility’s required “sustainable” level-of-service?
3. Which assets are critical to sustained performance?
4. What are the utility’s best “minimum life-cycle cost” capital improvement plan and
operations and maintenance strategies?
5. What is the utility’s best long-term financing strategy?

ASDWA’s Role in Capacity Development

ASDWA supports states in their capacity development work through a Small Systems Committee that considers state concerns and identifies tasks to enhance states’ abilities; through a state contact list that identifies state capacity development coordinators for mailings and information sharing; and through the ASDWA’s Newsroom. Newsroom posts pertaining to capacity development and asset management can be found at the bottom of the page or by using the Capacity Development filter in the Newsroom. If you would like to be added to the Capacity Development Coordinators email list, or review whom from your state is on the list, contact Kevin Letterly (

ASDWA and EPA work closely together on capacity development. ASDWA provides state input when EPA has documents, strategies, or tools to review.  Every three years, ASDWA and EPA co-host a National Capacity Development and Operator Certification Workshop and, in the off years, ASDWA participates in Regional Workshops – generally one East and one West of the Mississippi.

Information on National Workshop coming soon.

Tools and Resources

Refer to EPA’s Building the Capacity of Drinking Water Systems for the latest capacity development tools.

Small Community Assistance Planning Asset Management Tool: Guide for Tool Users: – allows users to track either wastewater or drinking water assets and conduct a basic condition and criticality assessment.

*Before using these tools, save as macro enabled for full function.

CapCert Connections

ASDWA’s CapCert Connections is for state drinking water program operator certification and capacity development coordinators. Our goal is to share timely, informative articles designed to help make your efforts easier to accomplish; give you insights into what your peers are working on; and keep you up to date with meetings, workshops, and other plan-ahead events. We hope that this informationwill encourage greater collaboration between the Capacity Development and Operator Certification programs and enhance the ability of both programs to support drinking water systems across the United States. Subscribe or search the archives at
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