RCAP Releases Statement on Administration’s Budget Cuts

RCAP LogoWASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier this week, the Trump Administration released its full budget proposal to Congress. The proposal includes deep cuts to programs that will fundamentally hinder the ability for rural communities to thrive. In response to Administration’s budget, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) Inc.’s Executive Director Nathan Ohle released the following statement:

“This budget will severely hurt rural communities that have already been left behind. Now more than ever we need to be helping rural communities create opportunities to create good paying jobs, provide safe and affordable drinking water and adequately treated wastewater, and to develop infrastructure that will lead to economic growth.”

“There is a universal need for the federal government to support capacity building, technical assistance, and infrastructure funding in every community across America. The majority of small and rural communities that RCAP serves continue to struggle with capacity, expertise and adequate funding resources. They rely not only upon on RCAP’s technical assistance and training, but also loan and grant funding provided by the EPA’s State Revolving Funds and USDA Rural Development programs.”

“Cuts for safe drinking water and wastewater programs, the elimination of programs like USDA’s Water/Wastewater Grant and Loan Program, HHS’s Rural Community Facilities Program, HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), and HUD’s Home Investment Partnership (HOME) Program are unacceptable. These programs were designed to help communities, particularly small rural communities, to invest in infrastructure, public health and economic development in some of the nation’s hardest hit areas.”

“Rural communities are the lifeblood of this country, and we stand ready to work in partnership with the federal government to improve programs that create healthy, vibrant and economically sustainable regions. RCAP is committed to working with the White House and Congress to show how this budget as proposed would adversely affect rural communities, and welcome the opportunity to engage in productive conversations that will lead to opportunity for every community across the country.”

The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) is a national network of six regional RCAPs working to ensure that rural and small communities through the United States have access to safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater disposal. The Partnership provides a variety of programs to accomplish this goal, such as direct training and technical assistance. For more information, visit www.rcap.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

CONTACT Bianca Poll, Director of Communications, bpoll@rcap.org 202-470-2808

RCAP Solutions is the Northeast affiliate of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, providing services in all six New England states, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

 

Drinking Water Week 2017

It’s Drinking Water Week!  

Did you know that RCAP Solutions works with rural communities to promote public, environmental and economic health?  Through our affiliation with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), a national network of regional nonprofit organizations, we provide comprehensive, on-site technical assistance and training to help small, rural communities address their drinking water, wastewater, and other community development needs. We provide services in all six New England states, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Some statistics about the work our Technical Assistance Providers offered in 2016:

  • Number of communities  with improved public health outcomes due to RCAP Solutions projects: 151
  • Total Population served: 521,778
  • Low income population served: 135,239
  • Leveraged funding for capital projects: $4.75 million
  • Number of trainings conducted: 47
  • Number of participants trained: 783
  • Number of households positively impacted by  RCAP Solutions training and technical assistance: 71,540
  • Number of students and teachers impacted by environmental presentations and events: 700

If you have any questions about how our programs can support your communities, please contact Sarah Buck at 978.630.6658, sbuck@rcapsolutions.org.

Stay tuned for additional information this week about water and the work we do in small, rural communities.

For more information, please visit our Community Resources Pages here.

RCAP partners with The Health Foundation of Central MA

LogoRCAP Solutions partners with The Health Foundation of Central MA to Assist Rural Communities With Safe Drinking Water

Worcester, MA – RCAP Solutions has completed a project which assisted public water systems in the towns of Ashburnham, Hardwick, Wheelwright, Gilbertville, and Lancaster increase their capacity to plan, operate and manage existing drinking water facilities to ensure their efficiency, affordability, dependability and sustainability. By providing technical, managerial and financial needs assessments, deficiencies were identified, priorities selected, and issues were addressed. As a result, the long-term effects of the project will positively impact over 17,300 residents in small, rural communities and ensure their access to safe and affordable water.

“We are thrilled with the successful outcome of this project which was funded by The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts,” stated Karen A. Koller, President & CEO of RCAP Solutions. “Rural America is right here in our backyard, represented by many communities in Central Massachusetts. We are pleased to be able to fulfill our mission and meet the essential needs of small towns by providing this valuable technical assistance so that community water systems can provide safe, clean drinking water to their residents.”

“Especially because of the extreme drought conditions the region has been experiencing, our awareness of the need for a sufficient supply of clean water is heightened,” said Dr. Jan Yost, President of the Foundation. “We thank RCAP Solutions for helping to assure the residents in these rural communities of their water supply now and into the future.”

Asset management plans were created and implemented in all five of the drinking water systems, offering countless system efficiencies and ultimately enabling the participating communities to be proactive instead of reactive in their decision making processes. These plans help systems identify all of their assets, assess worth, expected lifetime remaining, replacement costs and ultimately look at financial planning to ensure their budgets have room for future needed improvements. Other outcomes which resulted from the project included regionalization studies focused on sharing services to create economies of scale and keep down costs, assistance with federal compliance issues, and uncovering new funding opportunities and potential revenue sources.

The project capstone was a day-long regional asset management training for small water system owners and operators which provided six training contact hours  to 26 attendees including 21 operators representing 17 small community systems. Asset Management may become a MA water system requirement so these three communities and the additional systems that attended the training will be ahead of the game if  a statewide mandate is eventually in place.

About RCAP Solutions, Inc.

Established in 1969, RCAP Solutions mission is to foster personal and public self-reliance and improve the quality of life for individuals, families and the communities in which they live. RCAP Solutions is a comprehensive nonprofit community development corporation that works with communities of all sizes to address a broad range of needs. RCAP Solutions is part of a coordinated nationwide network with an integrated, multi-faceted approach to delivering high-quality services customized to each community’s unique requirements. For more information, please visit www.rcapsolutions.org.

About The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts

The Foundation was established in 1999 with the proceeds from the sale of Central Massachusetts Health Care, Inc., a physician-initiated, not-for-profit HMO. The Foundation currently has assets of approximately $68 million and has awarded grants totaling approximately $36 million to improve the health of those who live or work in Central Massachusetts. For further information about the Foundation’s grant programs, please visit The Health Foundation’s website at www.hfcm.org.

Edwin Vazquez-Asencio Named Rookie of the Year

Congratulations to Edwin Vazquez-Asencio, Sustainable Materials Management Specialist at RCAP Solutions, who received the Outstanding Rookie Award at the RCAP National conference.

Karen A. Koller, CEO; Edwin Vazquez-Asencio, Sustainable Materials Management Specialist; Juan Campos-Collazo, Community Development Specialist and Josefa Torres-Olivo, District Director at the RCAP National Awards Reception

Karen A. Koller, President and CEO; Edwin Vazquez-Asencio, Sustainable Materials Management Specialist; Juan Campos-Collazo, Community Development Specialist; and Josefa Torres-Olivo, District Director at the RCAP National Awards Reception.

This award is given to a staff member who has been with the RCAP program for two years or less, but who has made contributions over and above what would be expected for a new staff member. Nominees for this award have adapted to their jobs quickly, have made positive suggestions and contributions for program improvement, and shown outstanding initiative.

Edwin was hired in October 2014 to implement and lead RCAP Solutions Solid Waste Grant activities under National RCAP’s USDA Solid Waste Grant.  Prior to joining RCAP, Edwin had over 10 years of community education and training experience. Edwin has B.B.A. in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from University of Puerto Rico and an MBA from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. With Edwin’s background in community outreach, education, and organizing, his education in biology, and his passion for social and environmental justice, and to work directly with communities to address these issues, the selection committee felt that given the extreme degree of the solid waste issues in Puerto Rico, we needed an activist, not a technician.  This instinct paid off with dividends as Edwin has been working to organize community clean ups of illegal dump sites and to develop municipal and school-based recycling programs as well as community education and outreach activities.

In Edwin’s two short years at RCAP Solutions, he has been solely responsible for conducting two major community clean up events.

The first in January, 2015 took place in Manzanillo, a small, poor, rural barrio located on the southern coast of Puerto Rico, where the Jacaguas River meets the Caribbean Sea. In total, over 400 volunteers took part in the event, resulting in 15 truckloads of trash – approximately 100 cubic yards – hauled away. This event was conducted only 4 months after Edwin’s hire.

The second, in February, 2016 took place at the Guayabal Lake, located between the barrios Guayabal in Juana Diaz and Romero in Villalba.  It is one of the most important water reservoirs for agriculture activities from Juana Diaz to Salinas, a large region of four to five towns.  It has been used since 1914; providing enough water to develop the sugar cane industry in the region during the most intense period of development in Puerto Rico. Around 300 volunteers and government employees worked hand in hand to recover the lake from the solid waste under the lead of RCAP team. As a result, over 121,704.5 lbs. ≈ 60.85 tons of solid waste was removed from the lake.

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Josefa Torres-Olivo, District Director; Edwin Vazquez-Asencio, Sustainable Materials Management Specialist; Juan Campos-Collazo, Community Development Specialist; and Scott Mueller, Chief Community Services Officer and Director Rural Assistance at the RCAP National Awards Reception.

These events took many months of planning to coordinate. Edwin’s initiative provided a wake-up call and a real movement in the Manzanilla Community. After the success of the Manzanilla clean-up, many communities and agencies turned their attention to RCAP to find solutions in many areas affected by solid waste.  The coordination between federal, state, and municipal agencies and the communities demonstrates the need to establish a more collaborative frame of work to address this situation.

“This is exactly what we need, getting people to work together to protect the environment for future generations,” stated Adrian Alicea, a Park Ranger for the PR Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA), when the Manzanilla report was presented.

Between his start date in October 2014 and January 2015, Edwin planned, organized, conducted trainings, and implemented a volunteer community clean up event in a low income rural coastal community.  The event was a HUGE success.  Over 400 people showed up including local officials, officials from Puerto Rico’s Agricultural Extension Agency, Department of Natural Resources, the state police, the University of Puerto Rico, numerous local Boy Scout troops, church, and school service-learning groups.  NOT TO MENTION the buy-in of the residents of the community itself.  It was so successful that it was reported on by local Puerto Rico radio and television outlets, and served as a cover story for Rural Matters and a National RCAP special video project under production.

In March 2015 – just less than 6 months of his hire – Edwin, provided training, and implemented an event that involved engaging the local schools, getting buy in, training teachers, and planned, organized and ran an event where children were tasked with finding creative uses for items from illegal dumps and litter.

This lead the process to the point where school children are growing seedlings in containers that were or would have entered the waste stream to be used to landscape abandoned areas where the illegal dumping was occurring and an “adopt an island” approach was launched to find local businesses to plant and maintain these areas.

Edwin intrinsically knows that solving problems is one thing and that education, training, and capacity development is quite

Edwin Vazquez-Asencio with Robert Stewart, Director of RCAP, Inc.

Edwin Vazquez-Asencio with Robert Stewart, Director of RCAP, Inc.

another.  He is all about the local empowerment of low income communities and is not satisfied simply achieving his required work load or stay within the confines of his job description.  He is constantly coming up with ideas of how we can better serve the communities he is working with.

Edwin independently developed and delivered training materials that fit the context of the solid waste issues in Puerto Rico and has been assisting on our Puerto Rico Department of Health Sanitary Survey contract.

Edwin has been assisting and in some cases leading resource development efforts to expand our work in Puerto Rico. As a Solid Waste Management Specialist he has developed a collaborative strategic approach with the Government and the communities to deal with the proliferation of illegal dumping sites and the effects of these in the public health. Working as liaison between different agencies including The Natural Resources Department, The PR Solid Waste Authority, the Department of Education, the PR Police, the University of Puerto Rico and other private universities and the municipalities of Juana Díaz and Villaba, he is creating programs and initiatives to create awareness of the problem using cleanups activities to educate and promote long term solutions.

The inclusive approach is considering a multilevel educational effort to address the necessities of students, professionals and government employees.  His design is based in the sustainability of the initiatives considering; reduce, reuse and recycling of the materials that need to be diverted from the landfills. He is the Leader of the Educational Committee of the PR Recycling Partnership for the south of PR; an initiative of the Environmental Protection Agency Region II.

He has been invited to important radio programs in PR such as “La Gente Está Hablando” and “Es con usted la ciestión” on WPAB Radio Station and “La Alternativa Holística” on Radio Casa Pueblo 1020 AM; radio programs related to Social, Political and Environmental Issues affecting the society. In total Mr. Vazquez-Asencio have more than 25 years of experience in administration, outreach and community education, with a strong background in cultural and environmental management.

In addition to this, Edwin has been involved in several volunteer and community projects including:

  • Assisted Dr. Norma Piazza from UPR, Ponce in the study needs for the Federal Department of Education, Title V on the proposal for the development of Spanish study centers using technology
  • Work in the development process of a proposal for Department of Education by the Ponce Art Museum
  • Oriented small farmer from Yauco, Puerto Rico about disposal of vegetal material by using the composting process
  • Founder and developer of literary movement La Peña Literaria
  • Member of Centro Cultural Carmen Solá de Pereira

What folks had to say about Edwin and his contributions:

“Edwin Vazquez-Asencio works with a passion, a virtue that not all Technical Assistance Providers possess. As a small fish in an immense tank of water, Edwin has to dive through the solid waste program with less experience than others with years of experience. He has gone above and beyond, accomplishing more than the tasks assigned under the Solid Waste program and also provides assistance with the drinking water program as well. Edwin has what’s needed to move the Solid Waste program ahead in Puerto Rico; and that is a great heart and the passion to serve people. He has taken giant steps towards positioning RCAP Solutions’ Solid Waste Program in Puerto Rico on the radar, such that local and federal Solid Waste agencies are noticing the work that he has done in such a short time. The Puerto Rico team is very proud to have Edwin on board as someone who assists rural and low income communities and those who live there.” Eng. Josefa Torres, District III Director Puerto Rico & U.S.V.I.

“Edwin is an extraordinary human being that puts the many qualities and skills he owns at the service of the rural communities in need. He has a great capacity for understanding the work along with the communities in helping them to effectively address their problems and improving not only their physical facilities, but also improving their self-esteem. He is an incredibly valuable team member for the RCAP Solutions staff in Puerto Rico.” Eng. Juan Campos, Community Development Specialist, RCAP Solutions Puerto Rico
Comments from volunteers involved in the Manzanillo and Guayabal Lake Clean Up Projects:

 “Manzanillo’s experience was an example of solidarity and empowerment, a reflection on what each one can do for the collective, and a successful learning experience for both the local community and the volunteers involved.” Dr. Sandra Moyá of the University of Puerto Rico’s Department of Biology

“This is exactly what we need, getting people to work together to protect the environment for future generations. This is part of our legacy for them and I’m glad we are a part of it. We patrol the area, try to educate people and prevent illegal dumping, but we need help. We really appreciate RCAP’s initiative to organize and coordinate this event. We need to continue this effort in other places.” Adrian Alicea, a Park Ranger for the Department of Natural Resources

“I have a three year old girl and an eight year old son. When they see people like RCAP Solutions working with us, they will grow up knowing that if we work together, we can get the help we need to have a better life in our community. My son helped clean the river with his dad. It will help the next generation think differently about the community and the environment.” Jayline Olivencia, Manzanillo resident

 “With this effort, we can say, today we made the change! RCAP Solutions was a helping hand, uniting people and creating an understanding about the importance of protecting and maintaining a clean environment, which will lead to a better quality of life and a better future.” Keila Rivera, an environmental science graduate student from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, who assisted with the workshops and researched information about the garbage burning habits promoted in Manzanillo Community.

 “It was an answered prayer, we were looking for the know how to deal with this situation” Eng.  Ruben Estremera, Principal Supervisor Engineer, PREPA South Coast-Juana Diaz Irrigation System. 

Brave Pennsylvania Water and Sewer Case Study

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Brave Compressor Station circa 1940s

Sukhwindar Singh, Director of Education and Training

The village of Brave is a tiny hamlet on the banks of Dunkard Creek in southwestern Pennsylvania.

About 100 years ago, Peoples Natural Gas Company of Pittsburgh decided this community was suitable for the largest gas compressor station in the world.  The compressor remained in operation from 1906 to 1959.  Two dams were created by People’s Natural Gas and other amenities were added including public water, public sewer, telephone service, an elementary school and an ice plant.   Today Brave is considered a census-designated place in Wayne Township, Greene County Pennsylvania.  It lies in Pennsylvania’s southwestern corner near the West Virginia Border. As of 2010, the population was 201 with about 80 household connections.

The Brave Wastewater Treatment Plant provides service to the village of Brave in Wayne Township, Pennsylvania  with a service area of approximately two miles. The biggest concern of the Authority is the condition of the treatment plant and collection system.

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Brave Brass Fittings Plant without Compressor Station, 2015

The Brave Water Authority serves approximately 200 persons and purchases water from the Morgantown Utility Board, which draws raw water from the Monongahela River and Cobun Creek Reservoir. The Morgantown Utility Board is responsible for providing the primary water treatment of water and monitoring of water quality.

This community has faced some serious challenges which prompted them to ask for RCAP’s assistance.  Greene County has been working steadily to keep the system moving forward and many personnel from the county level have expended time and efforts here.  The county also requested RCAP technical assistance.  RCAP is just beginning work here, so technical assistance tasks and roles are being identified.  Currently RCAP staff are assisting the utility with preserving their maps and generating data sets of their water and sewer system that allow the manager/operator to develop an overall asset inventory of his system.  RCAP staff will also be assisting the system to remain financially viable through ongoing assistance related to budgeting and financial management.  Most recently, RCAP staff have also assisted the system to identify a state-certified auditor to assist on financial audits.  The system has slowly made improvements to the wastewater system and they are looking at improvements to the water system including tank painting and meter replacement.  Outcomes of this RCAP technical assistance to this small system are improved public health, improved economic vitality, and empowerment to the system manager, board and community.

Community Resources Program Update, Fall 2016

Scott Mueller, Chief Rural Affairs Officer & Director of Community Resources

Untitled3Over this past year, the focus on drinking water and health has been more important than ever before.  Close attention needs to be made on quantity, quality, and maintenance of water and the system is critical to a communities overall health and ability to serve its residents and businesses.   The lead issue in Flint Michigan has also brought national awareness to this issue with many states now testing their school systems for lead.  As well regulatory agencies are now more critically looking at compliance and trying to work more closely with communities to insure such.

One key activity to look at is knowing where your system components are such as valves, pumps, distribution and collection lines, laterals and the list goes on.  By knowing where they are assessments can be made on their condition, lifespan, and the ability to plan for replacement or upgrade and prior to it being needed to be made so it is a proactive activity rather than a reactive one focusing on having the financial means available to make the replacement.  Geographical Information Systems [GIS] combined with Asset Management planning is now becoming a very good way to guide this process.  Here institutional knowledge of the system characteristics and physical components can be maintained providing information to operators and decision makers insuring proper operation of the system in a holistic manner.

RCAP Solutions now has programming in this area and can provide technical assistance to rural communities across our region which covers 9 north eastern states and 2 territories [ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, RI, NY, PA, NJ Puerto Rico and USVI].  Whether it be working with a specific community issue or developing a new infrastructure system they have the experience to assist you with your effort.  Most always these are challenging efforts which cost significant dollars and there is an ever growing maze of regulation and process that needs to be navigated.  By knowing your system and components, you will be better able to manage its operations.

This year we are pleased to say that again we have funding available to assist in this area along with many others if eligible.  We can assist your community effort through our trainings, and onsite technical assistance or through our remote resource team.  Whether it be direct technical assistance or training provided to or your project team we would enjoy hearing from you and seeing how we may assist.  In those cases where communities are not eligible for assistance under our federal and state funding guidelines we also offer an affordable bee based approach to gaining this assistance and are more than happy to discuss your needs.

We wish every community the best in the upcoming year and to find out more about our services please contact Scott Mueller, Director of Community Services and Chief Rural affairs officer at 315-482-2756 or email smueller@rcapsolutions.org.

Eliminating Illegal Dumping in Puerto Rico

Edwin Vázquez-Asencio, Sustainable Materials Management Specialist, RCAP Solutions, Puerto Rico

Collores is one of the most named barrios in Juana Díaz PR. It was the birth place of  poet Luis Llorens Torres, one of the most important journalists of the first decades in the 20th century in PR. As a lawyer, playwright, politician and poet, he was responsible for the immortalization of the beauty of the rural areas of Collores in his writings. But in recent decades some of the beauty of “El Valle de Collores” was lost as a result of poor management of the solid waste.

Due to the collaborative strategy and the efforts between the “Solid Waste Taskforce” members and the communities, we can appreciate a positive change.  The Natural Resources Department contacted RCAP to refer a situation with the establishment of an illegal dumping site in the Agustinillo Sector at the road 512 km 4.2.  The place near the river is been used for the accumulation of solid waste for future pickup by the municipality.  Using the information in the RCAP solid waste brochure published in the community newspaper, some residents called the DRNA  Vigilant Corp. to complain about the problem. The lieutenant in charge, looking for a more proactive way to deal with the situation, oriented the residents in the sector and some interviews were made by RCAP TAP.pr dumping

“The residents who agree with this practice alleged that the area was designated by the municipality employees who collect the materials. They also claimed that the collection service has been delayed for a few weeks; according to them, maybe more than two months.”

With the assistance of the DRNA the residents were oriented about the consequences of that practice for the environment, the river and their health, also the legal penalties associated with the intervention from the DRNA and the police.

The community ceases the practice and contacted the municipality officers for the collection with the information provided during our intervention.  TAP call the Juana Díaz DTOP Director to let him know about the situation and coordinate the removal of the materials. The DRNA on their part contacted JD DTOP to require action on the collection of the materials. The municipality took action immediately.

With the participation of residents of the Agustinillo sector, TAP performed a cleaning and restoration of the area used for illegal dumping.  The small illegal dumping site in progress was stopped and eliminated. The place was programed for the developing of a land scape that will be adopted by community members.  Community groups such as; the Colectivo Valle de Collores, were involved in the process and additional members of other sectors will be contributing with the design of a landscape.

The DRNA donated endemic bushes for the place.  The activity was reported to the Regional Offices of DRNA and all stakeholders, as a result of this, the State Department of Transportation and Public Works collaborated with the initiative and invited the community to their nursery for orientation and selection of other ornamental plants. The adoption of the area is going to be made formally by DTOP. The residents are in the process of developing a project in which they can integrate food crops and ornamentals in the area in order to address the interest of residents with different interests.  Some banana trees were planted in the background as suggested by the some of them.

The PR Natural Resources Department Vigilant Corp was present on the cleanup and the possible violators of the law were identified for orientation about the situation and the possible repercussions of their behavior.  A sign donated by Colectivo Valle de Collores was placed in the area with a positive message: “ Isla Adentro: peces, flores, pájaros, aire puro, aguas cristalinas…pr dumping1Consérvalos.  (Inside Island: fish, flowers, birds, pure air, crystal clear waters…Preserve it).

After a few months the place remains clean and the donated plants are in the area waiting for the final design and the top soil conditioning. Collores is going back to be the idyllic place nostalgically described by one of its favorite sons; who immortalized its rural beauty before the solid waste were part of the scene.  Thanks to the team work of the taskforce created by RCAP and the community support Collores is changing for good; the empowerment of the community is taking place in the solid waste management and we are convinced of the success of or approach.

RCAP Solutions Staff Receive National Awards

Robert Stewart, Executive Director for the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) presented two RCAP Solutions Employees with prestigious national awards during the RCAP annual conference last year in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Robert B. Stewart, Executive Director, RCAP, Inc. with Candace Balmer, Community Development Specialist, RCAP Solutions, receiving The Bill French Bridge-builder Award.

Candace Balmer, Community Development Specialist, New York, was the recipient of the The Bill French Bridge-builder Award, given to an RCAP staff member who has been successful in building his/her state RCAP program, whether in reputation and credibility or in funding. She has advanced her state program to a higher level of operations through new and enhanced relationships with funding and/or primacy agencies or other partners, new services offered to communities, and/or new grants or contracts obtained. This award is named for Bill French, one of RCAP’s founding members who leveraged the RCAP program to build a strong and well-respected agency, and is given to a recipient who has successfully advanced her state program to a higher level of operations. The recipient has, in the sense of being a bridge, enabled a program to cross over barriers, led a program along a road to realize a vision, and brought a plan to fruition. The person has been a true connector and has led programs to success.

 

Scott Mueller, Chief Community Services Officer & Director Rural Assistance with Karen Koller, President & CEO, RCAP Solutions after being presented with the Outstanding Mentor Award.

Scott Mueller, Chief Community Services Officer & Director Rural Assistance with Karen Koller, President & CEO, RCAP Solutions after being presented with the Outstanding Mentor Award.

 

Scott Mueller, Chief Community Services Officer & Director Rural Assistance, received the Outstanding Mentor Award for teaching and mentoring new Technical Assistance Providers and helping them become productive members of the RCAP team. This award is given to a State/Regional Coordinator who has made a difference in the program through his expert guidance and valuable knowledge and being a nurturing, fostering leader.

Testimonial – Village of Granville, NY

villagemainI am writing to express the Village of Granville’s appreciation and strong support for Mark Johnson of RCAP Solutions Inc.  Mr. Johnson has been instrumental in developing the operations and maintenance plan for the Village’s new Water Treatment Plant, completed in 2012.  Mr. Johnson is consistently organized and prepared, and he has utilized his experience to aid the Village with numerous recommendations in maintaining compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, as well as to make the plant safer and more efficient.

At a time when the Village has been short staffed due to budgetary constraints (operating with a staff of 6 instead of 8), Mr. Johnson’s assistance and counsel has been most helpful. The Operations and Maintenance Plan that he has helped to develop is an absolute necessity for the future, as the Village will be losing two of our senior operators to retirement in the next 24 months.

Mr. Johnson has consistently displayed a professional and positive attitude in assisting the Village throughout the process. On behalf of the Village, I would like to express our sincere appreciation, and also state that we hope for the opportunity to continue our relationship with him in the future as time and funding allow.

Sincerely,

Scott Mackey

Mechanic/Water Plant Operator

Village of Granville, Granville, New York

Operation and Maintenance Plans: A Blue Print of Your System

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Thomas W. Essig, Jr., RCAP Solutions Pennsylvania and New Jersey State Lead

Overview:

A system’s Operation and Maintenance Plan (OMP) is a formal document that describes how a water system is to be safely operated on a daily basis. It details how to provide system service while adhering to permit requirements and safeguarding public health. This plan contains a comprehensive description of water sources, treatment processes, storage tank data and distribution system information. It must be prepared in a way that provides accurate depictions of daily routine operational and maintenance procedures. It should include examples of record keeping and emergency response procedures.

The OMP should be prepared completed in a way that it clearly explains to another operator how to run the water system and keep it in compliance with all laws, rules and regulations. This document ensures adequate safe drinking water to the community if current system personnel were unable to operate the system for whatever reason. It provides direction so that all employees are aware of their individual roles and responsibilities for operating the system. Because all waster systems, even those of similar design, are run differently – the template should be customized to each system’s size, source water, treatment techniques and distribution system needs. It should convey a complete and concise understanding of the water system’s operations.

This chart shows the interrelationships of an Operations and Maintenance Plan with other important planning activities of a water system.

This chart shows the interrelationships of an Operations and Maintenance Plan with other important planning activities of a water system.

This critical system document should be reviewed and updated on an annual basis at minimum. If new system infrastructure is expanded or assets are added, they should be included in as much detail as possible to the plan. There should be multiple copies of the plan kept at different locations and it should be distributed to operations staff, management and board members. This is to help ensure that a copy of the plan is available for use should the plant or treatment facility suddenly go out of service due to a natural or man caused emergency such as a flooding event while ensuring that all stakeholders of the water system gain a basic understanding of infrastructure assets, locations and operations.

It is interesting to note that while many state primacy agencies have produced OMP manuals and templates, there is not a standardized OMP document. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a check list of items to be included in an OMP and many states accept a system “SOP” – Standard Operating Procedures document produced by the engineer or operator to serve as an OMP. So it is important for a water system to check in with their regulatory agency to determine what type of document is needed to fulfill the OMP requirement. The various primacy templates also vary in what should be included in an OMP as well as the level of technical sophistication required. Examples of this include latitude and longitude locations for system assets or providing various customer notification forms in English and Spanish. A copy of the completed OMP is typically required to be kept at the system facility and is to be made available upon request from state primacy staff.

Components of an OMP:

This graph demonstrates the benefits of a good preventative maintenance over time. Managed deterioration demonstrated by proper maintenance within the management zone increases the useful life of the asset versus a “no maintenance scenario” of running an asset to failure.

This graph demonstrates the benefits of a good preventative maintenance over time. Managed deterioration demonstrated by proper maintenance within the management zone increases the useful life of the asset versus a “no maintenance scenario” of running an asset to failure.

Most OMPs begin with basic system data such as the system name, public water system identification number, address, contact information, system type, the person preparing the plan and the date completion and any subsequent revision or updates. Additional information can include: system ownership; responsible officials; service area; population served; permit numbers; and listing various operator certifications.

The OMP then often “flows” in a way similar to the way that water processes through the system. This includes records for sources such as wells, springs, purchased water, pumps, booster pumps and master meter information. More detailed information on sources can include:

  • Well location, date drilled, yield, depth, location, static and pumped water levels, pipe diameter and if casing is grouted
  • Well pump information such as type of pump, manufacturer, horse power, booster pumps, whether controls are manual, digital or automatic and if there is a SCADA – remote control system
  • Important master meter records can include location, size, type, if there is chart or digital data recording and the last calibration date

The next topic covered in the OMP defines the system treatment processes and is one of the most important components of an OMP. This section is fairly comprehensive and covers procedures for maximizing operating techniques and preventative maintenance of your facilities and assets. A well-organized OMP helps ensure critical activities are performed by staff on time. A proper maintenance program and schedule will increase the working life of your equipment, thus reducing operating costs over time. Typically system assets are identified, flowed by operation techniques and the maintenance programs. Items to be considered for inclusion in this section are:

  • Disinfection chemical utilized, strength, chemical supplier, chemical feeder type data and design contact time and chlorine residual
  • Descriptions of raw and finished water storage including locations, capacities, specifications and age
  • Distribution information should include pipe material, diameter, cross connection and back flow programs, as well as the number and location of valves, hydrants and meters
  • A distribution system map and treatment system schematic should be provided, as well as water main replacement contact information
  • Spare parts and chemical inventories and location with contact information for the local supplier
  • An equipment manufacturer’s operation and maintenance specifications attachment and local vendor contact information
  • Analytical laboratory contact information with policies and procedures for system monitoring and sampling protocols

The next section of an OMP will typically describe start-up and shut down procedures and should go into as much detail as necessary to conduct these activities. Considering all of the equipment involved in running a water system, this information can be quite detailed and lengthy depending on the size of the system. Items requiring consideration are the location of start-up and shutdown equipment, controls and electrical equipment. A check list should be included for start-up equipment and chemical inspections, as well as pre-shutdown procedures and activities. Additional items here should also include:

  • Tasks such as checking gauges, where and when to check chlorine residuals, visual equipment inspections, valve exercising policy and fire hydrant flushing frequency
  • Routine operations should be described as to who is responsible for performing each task and the frequency – daily, weekly, monthly etc.
  • System emergency flags such as a drop in water pressure and distribution entry point residual or rapidly draining storage tanks should have subsequent emergency operating procedures
  • Contact information and techniques for customer and regulatory official notifications and protocols for emergency response including incident follow-up actions
  • Copies of the annual Consumers Confidence Report and the Sanitary Survey should be attached
  • Emergency mutual aid agreements with local water systems or membership information with a state WARN (Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network) should be included

Conclusions:

The OMP is a dynamic and all-inclusive document that covers critical aspects of properly running a water system.  Research for this article from EPA guidance tools and various state primacy templates has demonstrated that there is a wide variance in plan requirements and complexity. Standardization of OMPs would be of benefit by easing plan preparation, providing better comprehension by new system operators and improving emergency response in large multi-state disaster events.   The RCAP national network of field technical assistance providers can help small systems prepare an OMP and often at no cost to the system.