(DENVER)—The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded the American Water Works Association (AWWA) grants that will give small water systems access to a free workshop and corresponding technical assistance. The workshop was developed through the support of two consecutive small systems training and technical assistance grants from the USDA’s Rural Development and Rural Utilities Service. The training targets systems serving fewer than 10,000 customers, with an emphasis on systems serving fewer than 2,500 customers. The content for the interactive workshop, entitled “Optimizing Performance and Accessing Funding to Improve Small Systems”, was developed by AWWA staff and volunteers and adapted from the Partnership for Safe Water’s successful utility optimization programs . Participants can earn continuing education units or operator credits. “This workshop is designed for small systems that may not have the resources or staff that larger systems have to manage complex issues,” said Barbara Martin, AWWA’s director of engineering and technical services. “Their needs for providing safe water for their communities are different than those of a large system, and this training will enable AWWA to make a positive impact on small systems across the country.” The full-day workshop, which is scheduled and administered in collaboration with local AWWA Sections, guides participants through an interactive water system self-assessment process to determine areas where they can operate more efficiently. Information is also provided on how to access low-cost USDA loans to solve water system issues and how to repay a loan through efficiency gains, such as improvements to water loss control. Each participant has free access to two hours of individual technical assistance provided by AWWA and a USDA state engineer. Ben Thompson, who oversees the water operations division at Anne Arundel County in Maryland, joined AWWA’s team as a trainer and technical assistance provider to support Sections in delivering the workshop. He brings 15 years of experience in water treatment operations and maintenance as an operator, superintendent and utility administrator, and is an active volunteer with AWWA’s Chesapeake Section and the Association. A full schedule of small system training workshops is available on AWWA’s website . ### Established in 1881, the American Water Works Association is the largest nonprofit, scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water, the world’s most important resource. With approximately 51,000 members, AWWA provides solutions to improve public health, protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enhance our quality of life.