AWWA Articles

New AWWA workshop targets small water systems’ challenges, opportunities

With seven pilot training sessions complete and a new trainer on board, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) is launching a free workshop for small systems to be delivered through local Sections.

The workshop was developed through the support of two consecutive small systems training and technical assistance grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Small system workshop participantsDevelopment and Rural Utilities Service. (Pictured, participants at pilot workshop sponsored by Rocky Mountain Section)

The training is targeted toward water systems serving under 10,000 customers, with an emphasis on systems serving populations less than 2,500.

“This workshop is designed for small systems that may not have the resources or staff that larger systems have to manage complex issues,” said Mandy Alford, AWWA’s grants project manager. “Their needs for providing safe water for their communities are different from those of a large system.”

Called “Optimizing Performance and Accessing Funding to Improve Small Systems,” the interactive workshop was developed by AWWA staff and volunteers and adapted from the Partnership for Safe Water’s drinking water utility optimization programs. Participants can earn Continuing Education Unit or operator credits.

The full-day workshop guides participants through an interactive water system self-assessment process to determine areas where they can operate more efficiently. It also provides information about how to access low-cost USDA loans to solve water system issues and how to repay a loan through system efficiency gains, such as improvements to water loss control.

AWWA is focused on providing small water and wastewater systems with valuable information to support day-to-day operations and has a small systems resource page on its website.

Ben ThompsonBen Thompson (pictured at left) recently joined AWWA’s team as a trainer and technical assistance provider to support Sections in delivering the workshops. 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 the Chesapeake Section and the Association.

With the assistance of Thompson, who oversees the water operations division at Anne Arundel County in Maryland, AWWA will support Sections in delivering the small systems workshops during the upcoming year. Each workshop participant also has free access to two hours of individual technical assistance provided by Thompson or another AWWA resource and a USDA state engineer.

A full schedule of small system training workshops is on the AWWA website.