Small Systems Delivers
Steve Wilson, Small System Committee Member
was recently fortunate enough go to ACE2012 in Dallas, Texas, where I attended
several of the Small System events/sessions/meetings that were occurring. I was asked by my Committee to give ISAWWA an
update and share some of my experiences from ACE 2012 which I outline for you
of all, our own ISAWWA Small System Committee received the AWWA Section Small
System Program Award from the Small System Division, with a plaque and check
for $200. Congratulations to our Committee, but most of all to Jon Meyer, our
Chair, for all of his hard work in reviving the Committee and being so
committed to our success.
serve as a Trustee for the AWWA Small Systems Division, and at our meeting on June
13, a number of items of interest were brought up that I’d like to share. There
was a presentation about a new initiative that AWWA is considering to develop a
time bank for sharing effort. It would
allow people to swap time for time, for the benefit of all. So, for instance, a small system operator
could assist a large system for a day; and, in return, the large system would
provide someone for a day to the small system.
The real benefit comes in when the swap matches needs and
expertise. So, maybe the small system
needs someone to assist them with budget management, or with solving a problem
they don’t have the expertise for, or someone to show them how to operate a new
piece of equipment. They could receive that expertise without cost, by agreeing
to give the same amount of time to someone else through the time bank. It will be interesting to see if this program
gets off the ground and how it will be managed.
was also a discussion of developing a small systems manual. The Division is asked to provide a small
systems chapter for specific AWWA manuals in many cases; and, in the next
couple of years, the Division may combine all of those chapters on various
topics into a manual for small systems.
The Division is also looking into putting together a workshop for
ACE2014. Each year, there are workshops
at ACE on the first day, which are "extra” sessions that you can come to for
specific detailed training. It would be
great to see a small system-focused workshop.
We’ve already seen how successful our Section has been in having a small
systems track at WATERCON.
also attended two small system tracks while at ACE. I gave a presentation on
Monday, during the small systems track, highlighting the results of the
operator survey we sent out to Illinois Operators in Charge last August. There were also talks from Canada about
regionalization, where they are financing 90% of regionalization costs in an
effort to reduce the number of really small systems that are having problems
staying in compliance. RCAP spoke about
best practices, and the thing I took away from that talk was in reference to
water loss. She said, "15% water loss is
considered the industry average. Why?
That means you are operating your plant for 54 days each year just to pump the
water to loss.” When put that way, and
you think about your costs for 54 days of running your plant, it hits home how
important it is to maintain your system to prevent those losses. There was a talk from Wisconsin about their
governance of water rates. Did you know
that in Wisconsin, every utility has to send in their financial records
annually? They are evaluated and audited
based on a scoring system that looks at operating loss, water loss, rate of
return, and debt as a function of capital structure. They can tell utilities it’s time to increase
rates, and they have had this program in place for nearly 100 years.
Thursday at ACE, there was a session on disseminating information to small
systems. They brought together folks from several groups and organizations that
provide information to small systems, EPA, TA providers, state regulators, and
university folks. It was an open format
with short talks, and there was a significant amount of time provided for open
discussion. The point of the session was to identify the best approaches to get
information to small systems, as well as determine where more work was needed
to identify new, better methods for disseminating information. The organizers took down a lot of great
information and ideas and it will be included in the ACE CD sent to all
what I brought back from ACE this year.
It was a busy, engaging event for sure.
I met a lot of new people, some of whom I hope to work with in the
future; and I brought back a lot of new ideas for blog posts and possible
research ideas. Please visit our page on
the new ISAWWA website for more information regarding the Small System
Committee. If you have any questions,
or would like additional information, please contact our Chair, Jon Meyer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-780-7754.