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

Small Systems 90-Day Trial Membership

Interested in a 90-day trial membership? Apply today!

Download Small Systems AWWA Membership Application

USDA Small Systems Training

eLearning Self-paced

To access these FREE courses, please follow these steps:

  • To access these courses, please follow these steps:
  • Login to your AWWA Account
  • Click on Your Name/Profile 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: AWWASMSY Click Redeem and then ‘Go'.

Multiple free courses will be placed in your enrollments section on the lower page. 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
 

Stormwater Best Practices for Rural Communities - EL282
Stormwater Best Practices in Rural Communities will introduce participants to Stormwater Management goals, practice, tools and challenges specific to rural communities. The course will provide an overview of stormwater management programs in general, followed by more detail on Stormwater Regulations, System Operations and Maintenance (O&M), the Impacts of Development & Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) and Funding Sources for stormwater programs. After taking this course participants will be able to: 

  • Understand the need for and components of municipal stormwater management programs,
  • Identify regulations relevant to their communities
  • Define their stormwater conveyance system and develop routine O&M practices consistent with best practices
  • Understand the benefits of GIS and Low Impact Development (LID) in managing the impacts of development in their communities
  • Identify funding for stormwater O&M and capital projects through RD Apply 


How Water Works - EL283

This course is intended for those wishing to learn the overall basics of how water works as it moves from the source to your tap. The course will provide you with the general knowledge of the processes that take place your source water, within the water treatment plant, the distribution system, your own home, and wastewater facilities. This course will also allow you to identify key administrative processes within water utilities, and helpful management processes to create a sustainable water system. 

Course Outline:   

  • Overview of Water from Source to Tap 
  • Water Sources and Contamination 
  • Water Treatment Operations 
  • Distribution Operations 
  • Wastewater process 
  • Sustainable Water System Management 

Upon completing all 7 courses listed below you will be eligible for a certificate.

Controlling Non-revenue Water in Small Water Utilities, Course 1: Water Supply Operations and Non-Revenue Water - EL290
This course introduces the topic of Non-revenue Water, which occurs in all water utilities to some degree.  Water often leaks from primary supply infrastructure and never reaches customers.  Inaccurate customer water meters and billing errors result in uncaptured revenue.  Such failures and data lapses are explained as sources of Non-revenue Water, which have multiple negative impacts to utility operations and finances, as well as disruption to reliable customer service. 

Course Learning Objectives: 

  • Recognize sources of Non-Revenue Water in their system
  • Define the components of Non-revenue Water using AWWA’s Water Balance  
  • Calculate the associated costs of Non-Revenue Water 
  • Analyze the operational, financial, and customer impacts that result from Non-revenue Water. 

Controlling Non-revenue Water in Small Water Utilities, Course 2: the AWWA Standard Water Audit and Free Software Tools - EL291

In this eLearning course, students will learn how to track the water that they manage using the Water Balance diagram, and how to place data in the AWWA Free Water Audit Software to compile the annual water audit. Guidance is given both on the use of the Software and the ways to get a representative quantity of the water audit components. Participants will also see how to transfer their water audit data into the AWWA Compiler Software Tool which allowing year-by-year trending. 

Course Learning Objectives:

  • Track the water you supply from source to customer using the Water Balance diagram. 
  • Download the AWWA Free Water Audit Software and the AWWA Compiler Software Tool
  • Compile your annual water audit using the AWWA Free Water Audit Software 
  • Analyze your year-by-year water audit data using the AWWA Compiler Software Tool

Controlling Non-revenue Water in Small Water Utilities, Course 3: How to Track Your Progress at Controlling Non-revenue Water for Small Water Utilities - EL292

This course is part of an eLearning program made possible through the collaboration of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Partnership for Safe Water.

Course participants will learn about the Non-revenue Water performance indicators calculated by the AWWA Free Water Audit Software. The use and interpretation of these important performance indicators is explained, and reliable comparisons of utility performance are illustrated. AWWA’s performance indicators provide an improved way to target your water loss control efforts and track your performance in controlling Non-revenue Water.

Course Learning Objectives:

  • Explain what performance indicators are and how they are used.
  • Distinguish between the different types of performance indicators. 
  • Recognize that traditional percentage indicators are misleading. 
  • Define the AWWA Non-revenue Water performance indicators and their benefits. 
  • Assess the volumes and costs of Non-revenue Water in your water system reliably. 
  • Compare the performance indicators of your water system with other systems that compile an AWWA Water Audit 
  • Formulate the actions to take to address the greatest sources of Non-revenue Water in your system.

Controlling Non-revenue Water in Small Water Utilities, Course 4: Accurate Metering of Water Production Flows - EL293

This course is part of an eLearning program made possible through the collaboration of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Partnership for Safe Water.

Course participants will learn that accurate metering of production flows is highly important, in terms of managing water supplies, but also in providing accurate data to the annual water audit. Production flows are the largest annual volumes of water measured in the water utility, and they are measured by the largest flowmeters in the water system. It is critical that water utilities manage these assets reliably to produce accurate data, and this course provides detailed guidance on this activity.

Course Learning Objectives:

  • Identify those water flows that are classified as production flows
  • Recognize the critical importance of accurate production flow data to water accountability
  • Distinguish the primary types of production flowmeters used in drinking water supplies
  • Recall the basic ways to test production flowmeter performance and calculate the accuracy rating from typical testing data
  • Recognize that production flowmeters are important assets that must be maintained, repaired, and replaced on a regular basis as part of good asset management
  • Tabulate and Analyze production flowmeter data to observe flow trends and identify data errors and data gaps

Controlling Non-revenue Water in Small Water Utilities, Course 5: Effective Leakage and Pressure Management to Contain System Leakage - EL294

This course is part of an eLearning program made possible through the collaboration of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Partnership for Safe Water.

Course participants will learn about the harmful impacts of leakage on system operations and the excessive costs it creates.  The rapidly advancing technologies of proactive leakage control and pressure management are giving water utilities the tools they need to keep leakage contained.  It is critical that water utilities control leakage in their water distribution systems and this course provides detailed guidance on this activity.

Course Learning Objectives:

  • Explain how leakage occurs in water distribution systems and the problems leakage causes
  • Describe how leakage imparts direct and indirect costs on water utility operations
  • Define proactive leakage management and its key activities
  • Identify the ways to detect leaks and pinpoint them
  • Assess your system’s pressure levels and potential for improved pressure management
  • Determine the best actions to monitor and control leakage in your system

Controlling Non-revenue Water in Small Water Utilities, Course 6: Customer Metering and Billing Operations for Optimized Revenue Capture - EL295

This course is part of an eLearning program made possible through the collaboration of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Partnership for Safe Water.

Course participants will learn about the necessity of accurate customer metering, meter reading, and billing operations to ensure a reliable revenue stream.  Utility policy on meter and billing can result in Apparent Losses just as inaccurate water meters and billing system errors can.  It is important for water utilities to stay current with metering and meter reading technology and employ rational policies to optimize their revenue capture.

Course Learning Objectives:

  • Explain the value of water and need for revenue
  • Describe how utility policies can affect financial stability
  • Explain how utilities meter customer water consumption and bill for this service
  • List common water meters in use and types of meter reading systems
  • Detail good meter management practices – accuracy testing and meter replacement
  • Identify potential for billing errors and unauthorized consumption that siphon away revenue
  • Tabulate consumption and billing data reliably to track revenue capture and flag errors
  • Determine ways to improve metering & billing operations in your system

Controlling Non-revenue Water in Small Water Utilities, Course 7: Keeping an Effective Non-revenue Water Management Program Going - EL296

This course is part of an eLearning program made possible through the collaboration of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Partnership for Safe Water.

Course participants will learn the ways to launch and keep their Non-revenue Water management program going for the long haul. This final course in the series brings together concepts from the first six courses and provides program management guidance including compiling the water audit every year and using its results to assist the planning, budgeting, implementation, and sustainability of the program. Creating a vision for the next five, ten, or more years is important to keep the program going and keeping Non-revenue Water controlled.  

Course Learning Objectives:

  • Demonstrate how Non-revenue Water will rise unless action is taken to contain it.
  • Recall that the water audit allows you to track your loss volumes and costs each year.
  • Assess Non-revenue Water levels and system conditions each year to set priorities.
  • Identify technologies and methods that are effective in addressing losses in your system.
  • Envision their system 5-10 years from now, and how they would like to see them operate then.
  • Execute their planned loss control activities, monitor their progress, and adjust their actions as needed if losses are still excessive.



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Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance Training

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

eLearning Self-paced Courses

To access these FREE courses, please follow these steps:

  • To access these courses, please follow these steps:
  • Login to your AWWA Account
  • Click on Your Name/Profie 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:  AWWASMSY. Click Redeem and then ‘Go'.

Multiple free courses will be placed in your enrollments section on the lower page. To begin 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


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



Contaminants of Concern: PFAS - EL284

Growing concern about the presence of highly fluorinated chemicals (PFAS) and manganese in drinking water has brought increased recognition of broader emerging contaminants issues. Understanding the science, including the formation and transformation in the environment, is an important step toward remediation and prevention. This eLearning module will discuss the background, health effects, and formation of PFAS and manganese, their presence in drinking water, and EPA health advisories for these contaminants of concern.


Lead and Copper Rule - EL292

This course focuses on the steps small systems must take to meet the existing Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) as well as the recent revisions to the LCR (LCRR). While this class is designed to address small system issues, it is relevant for systems of all sizes.
 



Disinfection By-Products (DBPs) - EL299

The overriding objective of water treatment is the removal or inactivation of pathogenic micro-organisms to prevent the spread of waterborne disease.  Yet it is almost impossible to disinfect water without forming DBPs, which can also have health risks. This course covers some of those health risks, as well as types, formation, regulatory requirements, and options to control disinfection byproducts resulting from the use of chlorine-based disinfectants, chloramination, and ozone disinfectants. 



Containments of Concern: Nitrates - EL300

From the rivers of the Midwest to shallow ground water wells across the United States drinking water systems face a growing challenge from elevated levels of nitrate in source water. There are numerous water systems that do not realize that finished water has elevated levels of nitrate until they face a notice of violation. This course focuses on steps water systems can take to understand the challenge they face and begin to evaluate treatment and non-treatment alternatives appropriate to their local circumstances and budgets.



Containments of Concern: Manganese - EL301

Growing concern about the presence of manganese in drinking water has brought increased recognition of broader emerging contaminants issues. Understanding the science, including the formation and transformation in the environment, is an important step toward remediation and prevention. This eLearning module will discuss background, health effects and formation of manganese, their presence in drinking water and EPA health advisories for these contaminants of concern.

In-Person Workshops

More in-person training coming soon. 

America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018 was signed into law on October 23, 2018 and requires community (drinking) water systems serving more than 3,300 people to develop or update risk assessments and emergency response plans (ERPs). The EPA has developed newly released guidance, contained within these eLearning modules, to help small systems comply with AWIA.

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:  AWWASMSY 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.

Course 1: Introduction to Resiliency and America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 - EL272

As the introductory course in the Small Systems Resiliency Certificate Program, this course introduces the requirements for water utilities established by America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA) and defines how the certificate program can help small systems to meet those requirements. 

Course 2: Operational Measures for Resiliency - EL273
The second course in the Small Systems Resiliency Certificate Program, course content covers each aspect of security, field assessments of critical assets, and operational resiliency. 

Course 3: How to Develop a Risk and Resilience Assessment - EL274
As the third course in the Small Systems Resiliency Certificate Program, the course guides small systems through developing a Risk and Resiliency Assessment with a worksheet designed for small utilities. 

Course 4: How to Develop a Small System Emergency Response Plan - EL275
As the fourth course in the Small Systems Resiliency Certificate Program, the course guides small systems through developing an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) with the EPA ERP template. 

Course 5: Cybersecurity for Water Systems - EL276
The fifth course in the Small Systems Resiliency Certificate program, explains the importance of cybersecurity best practices for critical infrastructure and demonstrates how AWWA’s water sector cybersecurity risk management guidance and tool can help a utility identify gaps in current cybersecurity practices.  

Instructor-Led Courses

Coming Soon 



Additional Free Small Systems Training

To access these FREE courses, please follow these steps:

  • 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
    • Option A:If you have not accessed previously, under Small Systems Course Access, Enter Code: AWWASMSY. Click Redeem and then ‘Go'.
    • Option B: If the system indicates ‘Error: You have already used this code”, then Enter Code: AWWASMSY. Click Redeem and then ‘Go’.

All of the available free courses will be placed in your enrollments section on the lower page. To access one of the courses, click on the course title or select Go next to the title.


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

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





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. 

A100-20 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.