Small Systems

Resources for Small Systems

Operating costs, aging infrastructure, and increasing regulatory compliance are just some of the difficulties that utilities face daily. Smaller systems typically face these issues with fewer resources at their disposal. Our goal is to help ease the burden.

We offer a full suite of training resources including in-person workshops, instructor-led online courses, and self-paced eLearning. AWWA Standards and Manuals help you comply with industry standards. And finally, an AWWA membership helps you connect with your peers.

Small System Operastors

USDA Small Systems Training

Optimizing Performance & Accessing Funding to Improve Small Systems

This free training is made possible through the collaboration of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Partnership for Safe Water. Topics covered include: an in-depth introduction to water loss control, how to conduct a preliminary self-assessment, how to apply for USDA funding, and where to go for additional assistance.

Choose what format of free training works best for you. Whether you’re learning from an instructor online, by yourself, or in a classroom setting, the same content is covered.

Instructor-Led

The Instructor-Led online course will be 2-3 hours per day for 2 days and is free for small systems.

June 17-18, 2020
Hosted by the AWWA AL/MS section

Registration information to come.

eLearning Self-based

To access these FREE courses, please follow these steps:

  • Login to your AWWA Account
  • Select Your Name in the top right of the page to go to My Account
  • Click on My Courses in the left-hand menu
  • Under Small Systems Course Access, Enter Code: SMSYS20 and select Redeem and then Go
  • All of the available free courses will be placed in your enrollments. To access one of the courses, click on the course title or select Go next to the title.

Optimizing Performance and Accessing Funding to Improve Small Systems - EL280 
This eLearning course is part of a special eLearning workshop series made possible through the collaboration of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Partnership for Safe Water.  This eLearning course is designed to complement the series of one-day, interactive classroom-style workshops that are being delivered to small system operators and managers across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Course participants will learn how to complete a system-wide self-assessment of five core areas of everyday operations.  Based on the assessment, participants identify a priority area of improvement that may be eligible for USDA funding, learn how to develop a short project plan, and then learn how to contact/connect with USDA to get the funding process started.  All participants receive dedicated, follow-up technical assistance and helpful documents from AWWA. 

Introduction to Rural Development Apply (RD Apply) - EL281
In this eLearning course, students will learn how to apply for the Loans and Grants for Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Programs by becoming familiar with the RD Apply online application process. The RUS program provides affordable financing to construct or improve water, sanitary sewer, solid waste disposal and storm wastewater drainage systems. This course will provide step-by-step guidance through the RD Apply application process from starting an application, uploading data, application review and verification.

Course Learning Objectives: 

  • To Apply for the Loans and Grants for Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Programs in the fastest, easiest and most secure way
  • By applying you will be able to construct or improve water, sanitary sewer, solid waste disposal and storm wastewater drainage systems through affordable financing

In-Person Workshops

We will resume in-person workshops as soon as it is deemed safe to do so. Please check back.



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Additional Free Small Systems Training

Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance Training

Technical, financial and managerial training is available to help small public water systems maintain compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Training is available for small public water systems, either community or non-community, serving a population of 10,000 persons or fewer.

To access these courses, please follow these steps:

  • Login to your AWWA Account
  • Select Your Name in the top right of the page to go to My Account
  • Click on My Courses in the left-hand menu
  • Under Small Systems Course Access, Enter Code: SMSYS20 and select Redeem and then Go
  • All of the available free courses will be placed in your enrollments. To access one of the courses, click on the course title or select Go next to the title.

Maintaining and Achieving RTCR Compliance for Small Systems - EL219

This course is made possible through an USEPA grant for small systems training in conjunction with AWWA's training partner, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP). 

This eLearning course focuses on 4 major areas needed by small systems to maintain and achieve compliance with the Revised Total Coliform Rule, including when and how to conduct the RTCR assessment, evaluation of sampling procedures, sources water treatment assessments, and evaluation of distribution system operations, and maintenance practices on coliform occurrence. 

3-hour, self-paced

Financial Sustainability for Small Systems - EL226


This course is made possible through an USEPA grant for small systems training in conjunction with AWWA's training partner, the Environmental Finance Center. 

This eLearning course focuses on 3 major areas needed by small systems to achieve financial sustainability, including understanding enterprise funds and their revenues, and an overview of what is needed to protect public health through safe water. 

2-hour, self-paced

Regulatory Review - EL271

This course is made possible through an USEPA grant for small systems training in conjunction with AWWA's training partner, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP).

This eLearning course covers drinking water regulations and equips operators to properly operate and maintain water treatment facilities and distribution systems, thereby protecting public health. 

After completing the course, the learner will understand the origins and process for development of drinking water regulations and their importance in protecting public health, identify the meaning of commonly used terms and abbreviations in drinking water regulations, and be able to describe the multi-barrier approach to drinking water and its benefits to public health. 

1-hour, self-paced

Setting the Right Rates for Your Water System - EL251

This course is made possible through an USEPA grant for small systems training in conjunction with AWWA's training partner, the Environmental Finance Center.

This eLearning course consists of three modules to help you set the right rates for your water system. It is intended for people who make finance and management decisions on behalf of water systems, including board members and top managers. 

2-hour, self-paced




Optimizing Performance and Accessing Funding to Improve Small Systems - EL280 
This eLearning course is part of a special eLearning workshop series made possible through the collaboration of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Partnership for Safe Water.

This eLearning course is designed to complement the series of one-day, interactive classroom workshops that are being delivered to small system operators and managers across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Course participants will learn how to complete a system-wide self-assessment of five core areas of everyday operations. Based on the assessment, participants identify a priority area of improvement that may be eligible for USDA funding, learn how to develop a short project plan, and then learn how to contact/connect with USDA to get the funding process started. All participants receive dedicated, follow-up technical assistance and helpful documents from AWWA.

RD Apply - EL281

In this eLearning course, students will learn how to apply for the Loans and Grants for Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Programs by becoming familiar with the RD Apply online application process. 

The RUS program provides affordable financing to construct or improve water, sanitary sewer, solid waste disposal and storm wastewater drainage systems. 

This course will provide step-by-step guidance through the RD Apply application process from starting an application, uploading data, application review and verification.

Regulatory Review - EL271
This course is made possible through an USEPA grant for small systems training in conjunction with AWWA's training partner, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP).

This eLearning course covers drinking water regulations and equips operators to properly operate and maintain water treatment facilities and distribution systems, thereby protecting public health. 

After completing the course, the learner will understand the origins and process for development of drinking water regulations and their importance in protecting public health, identify the meaning of commonly used terms and abbreviations in drinking water regulations, and be able to describe the multi-barrier approach to drinking water and its benefits to public health.

1-hour, self-paced

Financial Sustainability for Small Systems - EL226
This course is made possible through an USEPA grant for small systems training in conjunction with AWWA's training partner, the Environmental Finance Center. 

This eLearning course focuses on 3 major areas needed by small systems to achieve financial sustainability, including understanding enterprise funds and their revenues, and an overview of what is needed to protect public health through safe water.

2-hour, self-paced

Maintaining and Achieving RTCR Compliance for Small Systems - EL219
This course is made possible through an USEPA grant for small systems training in conjunction with AWWA's training partner, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP).

This eLearning course focuses on 4 major areas needed by small systems to maintain and achieve compliance with the Revised Total Coliform Rule, including when and how to conduct the RTCR assessment, evaluation of sampling procedures, sources water treatment assessments, and evaluation of distribution system operations, and maintenance practices on coliform occurrence.

3-hour, self-paced

Setting the Right Rates for Your Water System - EL251

This course is made possible through an USEPA grant for small systems training in conjunction with AWWA's training partner, the Environmental Finance Center. 

This eLearning course consists of three modules to help you set the right rates for your water system. 

It is intended for people who make finance and management decisions on behalf of water systems, including board members and top managers.

2-hour, self-paced




Small System Operator Training: Achieve and Maintain Compliance with SDWA

More Trainings Coming Soon! 


Publications for Small Systems

AWWA Small Systems Field Guide, Water and Wastewater

Operators of small water systems do it all. This handy field guide provides all the day-to-day information needed to operate small water and wastewater systems.

M54 Developing Rates for Small Systems

M54 gives you the step-by-step guidance you need to determine your revenue requirements, analyze your rates for different customer classes, develop a financial plan, and design a better rate structure. 

A100-15 Water Wells

This standard covers the minimum requirements for vertical water supply wells, including geologic and hydrologic conditions and water quality and well construction.  Application of this standard is not limited by well depth.

G100-17 Water Treatment Plant Operation and Management

This ANSI-approved standard describes the critical requirements for the effective operation and management of drinking water treatment plants.