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Newsletter #46 for October 11, 2011

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Small System Internship: Lessons Learned

Next week at the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators meeting we'll be sharing our experiences coordinating an entry-level operator working for twelve weeks with two communities here in Illinois.

Some of the key points will include:

Each community, its local officials and operator(s) will have different expectations for an intern's involvement. This should be discussed up front.
Internship programs should budget for unexpected expenses and time investment required for the anticipated work.
An intern's involvement may raise politically sensitive issues in the community and require facilitation help from the program coordinator and/or other assistance providers

We'll be sharing our presentation and more of these lessons learned on our blog in the near future.

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Recently on our Blog...

Why Operators Leave - Small towns are continually losing operators to larger systems or better jobs. Why is this happening?
The Drinking Water Advisory Communication Toolbox #2 - Advisories don't have to just be for emergencies, use them to educate your customers and engage them in your water system's business.
More On Free Training - With a loss in federal funding for some small systems programs, many of the free training events operators have come to rely on will be going away.

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Weekly Reading for October 11, 2011

Each week we'll provide a collection of our favorite links we know you'll love too!

1. No Need to Pay If It’s Free - NESC reminds the community to be wary of those who charge for articles that appeared in On Tap and Small Flows magazines. NESC provides a variety of free and low cost publications for small systems.
2. USDA, Infrastructure and Jobs - A recording of a presentation from USDA administrators at the NRWA H2O-XPO last week, sharing an outlook from this important federal infrastructure-funding agency.
3. Jobs and Water for America - An interesting opinion article on the intersection of water infrastructure and workforce needs. Might be a good one to share with those who need a better understanding of the big picture.

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Plan in Michigan could use $654M in bond funding for infrastructure

Our friends at the Michigan Water Environment Association shared a piece of news with us this week that could help small communities in Michigan with infrastructure needs and asset management if enacted...

Fred Cowles, Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc., represented the Michigan Water Environment Association on a committee created by the legislature to work with MDEQ to develop a plan for expenditure of the remaining $654,000,000 of the Great Lakes Water Quality Bond money approved by the voters in 2002. The plan is now complete and has been delivered to the legislature. It calls for about $327 Million in grants and about $327 Million in loans through the Strategic Water Quality Initiatives Fund (SWQIF) over 5 years.

The 90% grants are to encourage asset management for wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and to develop sustainable financing mechanisms. The loans are to encourage water pollution control projects similar to SRF but without the federal strings attached. The report also recommends actions to make the SRF process less burdensome. Implementation of the report’s recommendations will result in cost savings for Michigan citizens over the long-term.

Fully utilizing the SWQIF funds means we’re doing what voters said we should do when they passed Proposal 2 in 2002. Implementing the report’s recommendations is only part of the solution to the State’s wastewater and stormwater problems. Much more will need to be done but this would be a good start. These recommendations need to be enacted into law by the Michigan Legislature.

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Upcoming Free Webinars

Simultaneous Compliance and Groundwater Treatment hosted by USEPA
TODAY - Wednesday, October 12, 2011 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM EDT | Register
Simultaneous drinking water compliance is essential considering individual source water quality and treatment system impacts. Resultant changes in water stability issues can occur that may adversely impact water distribution systems and household plumbing materials (e.g. lead and copper exceedances and associated corrosion control impacts, taste and odor, disinfectant byproducts and nitrification).This presentation will focus on individual inorganic and organic water quality challenges (e.g. pH, alkalinity, DIC, TOC, raw water ammonia, methane hydrogen sulfide, etc.) implementing groundwater treatment systems and associated case studies.

Partnering Over Time hosted by USEPA
Wednesday, October 26, 2011;1:00 – 2:30 pm EDT | Register
Water system to water system partnerships that include operator mentoring, sharing equipment, third-party billing, contract management,and even ownership transfer are real solutions to address everything from shrinking utility resources, to regulatory compliance issues to operator know-how. Come hear from the utilities, the state regulator, a funding agency, and the facilitator as each explains his/her role in the evolving partnership between the two water systems. Learn how the partnership led to reliable service and safe drinking water for the communities.

Climate Ready Water Utilities hosted by NRWA
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM EST | Register
This webinar will provide an overview of EPA's Climate Ready Water Utilities initiative. The mission of this initiative is to promote a clear understanding of climate science and adaptation options to support drinking water and wastewater utilities. The webinar will include an overview of the National Drinking Water Advisories CRWU report, the Adaptive Response Framework, the Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT), the CRWU Toolbox, and the CRWU Adaptation Strategies Guide. The tools provide information to help utilities begin to understand their risks to climate change and how they may begin to address them as part of their utilities planning efforts.

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