Our mission is to help public water systems become more sustainable by improving their technical, managerial, and financial capabilities.
Safe Drinking Water - Don't take it for granted!
When we turn on a tap at our home, school, or business, we expect to get clean, safe water. And most of us do thanks to Vermont’s public drinking water systems. Public drinking water systems are vital to the health, safety, and economies of our communities. We rely on them for disease protection, fire protection, basic sanitation, economic development, and to support our quality of life. But we should not take safe water for granted. The people managing and operating our public drinking water systems face significant challenges as they try to provide their customers a sufficient amount of safe water, challenges that include:
- Complying with new and more stringent regulations;
- Retaining the knowledge of staff about the retire;
- Recruiting and keeping qualified staff;
- Addressing emerging contaminants such as blue-green algae, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products;
- Adjusting to changes in source water quality and quantity;
- Becoming more resilient to climate related events;
- Adapting to changes in population and water demands; and
- Achieving financial viability.
But the greatest challenges for many public water systems are those related to managing and replacing aging infrastructure. Feeling pressure to keep rates low, many communities have not been making the investments needed to properly maintain, repair, rehabilitate, and replace their assets. So now many of these assets - our sources, pipes, pump stations, storage tanks, and treatment plants - have either exceeded their useful lives, or will exceed their useful life soon.
As these assets continue to age and degrade, they will be more likely to fail. And more municipalities will struggle to comply with regulations and meet their customers’ expectations. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that Vermont needs to invest more than $510 million to replace aging public drinking water infrastructure in the next twenty years to ensure the health, security, and economic well-being of our communities (Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Surveys and Assessment, Fifth Report to Congress, April, 2013). This estimate does not include the money needed for ongoing operation and maintenance expenses, to comply with new regulations, or expand systems. Money from utility reserves and public financing is not enough to address Vermont’s drinking water infrastructure needs.
What can we do for you?
We are available to help systems become more sustainable by improving their technical, managerial, and financial (TMF) capabilities. To provide this assistance, we are available to meet with systems to:
- assist with the development of an Asset Management Program;
- provide training to Board Members;
- review bylaws and ordinances;
- provide rate setting guidance;
- assess the system's TMF capacities using the Capacity Self-Evaluation for Existing Systems, and more!
- In addition to one-on-one assistance, we use money from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) set-asides for projects that benefit public water systems. If you have an idea for a project, or see a common need in the industry, please contact us!
Current initiatives include:
- Free Leak Detection Surveys: The Capacity Development Program, in conjunction with the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund ( DWSRF) Program, are offering free leak detection surveys to public community water systems (CWSs). For more information, see the New Initiatives page.
- Asset Management Planning Loans: The Capacity Development and DWSRF Programs are offering Asset Management Planning Loans to CWS to develop a full asset management plan. A municipality may receive up to $50,000 in planning loan forgiveness to develop and implement a DEC-approved asset management plan that meets the guidelines in Guidance 26.
For more information about current initiatives, visit the New Initiatives page.
What is Technical, Managerial, and Financial Capacity?
- Technical capacity refers to a system's physical and operational abilities. Systems with strong technical capacity have:
- Qualified operators with the knowledge and skills to operate the system; and
- Infrastructure (i.e., source, storage tanks, treatment plant, and distribution network) that is in good condition, is adequately protected, and can meet current and anticipated demands.
- Managerial capacity refers to a system's administrative and organizational abilities. Systems with strong managerial capacity:
- Have owners, managers, and operators that are accountable and knowledgeable about the water system and receive on-going training;
- Plan for current and future needs; and
- Interact well with customers and regulatory agencies.
- Financial capacity refers to a system's abilities to generate or obtain enough money to maintain the system and pay for future improvements. Systems with strong financial capacity:
- Have revenues that pay for the full cost of providing services;
- Know and can measure all costs and revenues;
- Have reserves available for unexpected expenses;
- Use good budgeting and accounting practices; and
- Can access capital through public or private sources.