đź’§ Management & Finances for Small Water Systems (MA)

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Management and finance are important for small systems to operate correctly. This course will be going over key areas of management, boards and stakeholder roles, asset management, inventories, budgets and the importance of reserves and rate setting. This training is also for potential water operations, managers, and board members.

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Math is an integral part of drinking water and wastewater operations and is often one of the hardest topics to master. This course will review basic math concepts, tactics for solving problems, and provide practice applying the concepts to solve examples.

REGISTER HERE
 
Math is an integral part of drinking water and wastewater operations and is often one of the hardest topics to master. This course will review basic math concepts, tactics for solving problems, and provide practice applying the concepts to solve examples.

REGISTER HERE
 
Math is an integral part of drinking water and wastewater operations and is often one of the hardest topics to master. This course will review basic math concepts, tactics for solving problems, and provide practice applying the concepts to solve examples.

‘Twas Mid December at RCAP Solutions…

Click here to watch our holiday video!

‘Twas Mid-December and all through the skies,
RCAP teams with care and wise.
In every office, staff worked with glee,
Offering essential aid, as busy as can be.

The needy many, deserving of cheer,
In this season of giving, their hopes draw near.
For when the demand rises, so great and so clear,
RCAP’s dedication shines, year after year.

In our Housing Consumer Education Center,
We make sure every client has a supportive mentor,
To assist in all aspects of home ownership and leasing,
In case you should see a problem increasing,
If a concern should arise, there’s lending or training,
Should you find your bank account suddenly draining.

With Subsidized Housing, we help pay the rent,
Offering programs for both landlord and tenant.
Everyone deserves a safe home and a bed,
Where each family member can rest their head.
We can also assist with housing mobility,
And case management for economic stability.

Our Housing for Seniors and the Mobility Impaired,
Offers features and services that can’t be compared.
Our professional staff is supportive and giving,
With countless services for independent living.
For those who reside in RCAP’s great care,
Our teams will provide for ALL who live there.

Our Environmental Crew work with communities to ensure,
The water that pours from the tap is pure.
From Maine to Pennsylvania, we offer technical assistance,
For those in rural regions, we’ll travel the distance.
Whether it’s wastewater, mapping, training, and more,
We’ll assess your infrastructure, and help settle the score.

The Caribbean Team helps the islands with pollution,
Teaching about recycling, and solid waste solutions.
We offer disaster planning, and prepare for the future,
Should climate change impact your region and need suture.
Financial assistance for septic or well repair,
We’re here for our communities, never despair!

Here in Massachusetts, we’re Advocating for Change,
For private well homeowners, who may need a range,
Of regulations for education, testing, and support,
Should their water tests come up short,
And need repair to keep families in good health,
For every resident, across the Commonwealth.

Our Administrative Staff provides support to our programs,
IT keeps us online, and safely protected from scams.
Finance cuts checks and keeps the books in balance,
HR supports the organization, hiring people with talents.
Marketing ensures the public is in the know,
And Development guarantees that funding won’t slow.

In the Northeast our influence spreads, far and wide in stride,
In Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands, forever shall we reside.
Fostering community’s power, potential, a bond we unify,
In this commitment, our focus and unity lie.

Nurturing strength, resilience, and confidence, our gift to bestow,
Supporting individuals, families, communities, helping them grow.

Amid Concerns Over Contaminants and Pending Legislation, The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts Sponsors Survey by MassINC Polling Group

Media Contact: Greg Turner, Ball Consulting Group, LLC, Phone: 617-243-9950; Email: greg@ballcg.com

Topline

Crosstabs

A new public opinion survey released today by the MassINC Polling Group finds broad support among Massachusetts residents for strengthening drinking water protections for private wells to ensure safety and quality. The survey was sponsored by The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts as part of its Private Well Program to Protect Public Health led by grantee RCAP Solutions.

More than 500,000 Massachusetts residents rely on private wells for their drinking water, yet, unlike with public water systems, these sources are not subject to any statewide regulations or testing requirements. With manmade and naturally occurring contaminants found in private well water across the state, this gap and higher risk of exposure has prompted growing concern and calls for legislative action.

According to the poll, 73% of Massachusetts residents think well water should be protected in the same way as other sources of drinking water. Nearly all of those polled agree that all Massachusetts residents should have access to safe drinking water (97%) and that state government should play a role in achieving that goal (92%). There was a clear majority supporting these statements, regardless of demographics or party affiliation.

The poll also found a worrisome gap in well water testing rates. Only 21% of well users had tested their water in the past year and another 21% were not sure when their water was last tested. Just over half (53%) of well users reported they had not paid anything for well testing or maintenance in the past year.

Other key findings from the survey:

  • Three-quarters (75%) support proposed legislation to enable the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to develop statewide private well protections.
  • There was even stronger support (80%) when it was explained that the proposed legislation includes financial support for remediation of contamination for low-income homeowners with private wells.
  • A clear majority (57%) “strongly support” testing well water before a home is sold, and 72% of private well owners support such a policy to some extent (“strongly support” or “somewhat support”).

“The results of this poll demonstrate widespread support for improving access to safe drinking water and for developing greater protections and uniform testing standards for private well owners throughout the Commonwealth,” said Amie Shei, President and CEO of The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts. “All Massachusetts residents should have access to safe drinking water regardless of where they live and whether they have access to public water systems or private wells.”

Many homeowners in Massachusetts are facing substantial costs over contamination found in their private wells, including water sources exposed to PFAS, synthetic substances known as “forever chemicals” because of their persistence and prevalence in the environment.

The poll results were unveiled today during a legislative briefing at the State House organized by The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, RCAP Solutions, and the Coalition for Safe Drinking Water which was launched as part of this project. The event highlighted pending legislation, An Act Promoting Drinking Water Quality for All (S.482/H.902), sponsored by Sen. Jamie Eldridge (D-Marlborough), Rep. Dan Sena (D-Acton) and Rep. Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox). The bill is scheduled for a public hearing before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on Sept. 27.

The survey took a deep dive into general perceptions of public and well water quality. Majorities at least somewhat agree that they worry about whether their water is safe to drink  (61%) and that not everyone in Massachusetts has safe tap water (63%).

In an urban-rural breakdown of the data, those living in western Massachusetts – where private wells are more common – and in Suffolk County – home to the city of Boston and served by a public water supply – rated their water quality at home as “excellent” at higher rates than those living in other parts of the state. But those living in Massachusetts’ Gateway Cities – midsize urban areas served by public water and historically affected by socioeconomic challenges – reported their home tap water quality levels are lower than elsewhere.

The results are based on a survey of 1,013 Massachusetts residents by the MassINC Polling Group. Responses were collected via online survey Aug. 7-16, 2023, in English and Spanish.  Data was weighted to known and estimated population parameters on age, gender, race, party identification, education and geography. The credibility interval for the survey is +/- 3.4 percentage points, including the design effect. 

Detailed poll data is available online at the following link: https://www.massincpolling.com/the-topline/water-quality-poll

Open for Business Program Case Study: Neck-O Pillow, Supportive Guidance to Launch a Supportive Product

Written By: Madison Wellman, Coalition Manager/Business Opportunity Specialist

BACKGROUND: Ms. Ellen Sheehan is a dental hygienist from Wilmington, Massachusetts. While working in the dental office she noticed a need for a new product; an ergonomic pillow to support the necks of her patients on and off the dental chair. After much hard work, Ms. Sheehan developed a prototype pillow in her spare time that she felt was ready for full production. She approached Workers Credit Union for financing to launch her new enterprise, Neck-O Pillow. Workers Credit Union could see the value in Ms. Sheehan’s business, but in order to secure the loan she needed an appropriate business plan and projections, neither of which Ms. Sheehan was prepared to produce on her own.

THE CHALLENGE: Entrepreneurial success requires, among other things, a broad skillset including accounting, marketing, planning, and managerial skills. The easiest way to develop these skills is through experience and formal business education. However, these avenues are not equally accessible to all aspiring entrepreneurs. This disparity has produced a shared sense of underdeveloped entrepreneurial capacity in communities across the country, both urban and rural. Lack of educational opportunities, poor connectivity infrastructure, and a general absence of human capital capable of providing mentorship and expertise in our communities all contribute to the high business failure rate in our nation’s villages, small towns, and even larger cities. RCAP is striving to surmount these obstacles by delivering the absent human capital to communities across the country in a cost-effective manner. In meeting this challenge, RCAP is building permanent entrepreneurial capacity among every-day Americans.

THE APPROACH & SOLUTION: To rise to the challenge detailed above, RCAP launched the Open for Business Program. The program delivers business expertise to rural communities through webinars, online workshops, and one-on-one business consultations made available to entrepreneurs at no cost. All services are delivered remotely to reduce cost and maximize geographic reach.

Ellen Sheehan utilized this program to receive free guidance from RCAP’s experienced consultants. The RCAP consulting team worked with Ms. Sheehan to develop her business plan and financial projections to model her path to success. At the time of this writing, Ms. Sheehan received 159.5 hours of free one-on-one consulting assistance.

THE IMPACT: The most tangible impact of the assistance received by Ms. Sheehan is the business plan and projections that she was able to produce with the guidance of our senior consultants. These documents enabled Ms. Sheehan to return to Workers Credit Union and successfully apply for SBA small business financing. With her secured capital, Ms. Sheehan was able to contract with a Massachusetts-based contract manufacturer to begin production of her pillows. The senior consulting team was also able to advise Ms. Sheehan on her digital marketing strategy and guide her in the complicated process of becoming a successful seller on Amazon. Today, she is steadily making sales and receiving substantial traffic on her website.

Despite these material benefits to Ms. Sheehan and her business, the greatest impact may be more intangible. The projections Ms. Sheehan produced with the assistance of our team did convince the lender that Ms. Sheehan’s business had great potential for growth but more importantly, it convinced Ms. Sheehan that her business idea was feasible and has the potential to grow into a successful enterprise.

In a follow-up interview conducted for the purposes of this case study, Ms. Sheehan shared that over one year since she first engaged with RCAP she still looks back at the original projections she made with our team for inspiration. “Seeing that growth potential on paper still keeps me going,” Ms. Sheehan reported. Ms. Sheehan went on to share that the knowledge our consultants brought to her was invaluable and that their flexible availability and positive demeanor reassured her that she, and Neck-O Pillow, could succeed. If not for RCAP’s Open for Business Program, it is likely that Ms. Sheehan never would have launched Neck-O Pillow. In her own words, “getting your contact info was the best thing that could have happened to me…I don’t think I could have done this without you guys.”

Proposed Legislation Would Enable Statewide Drinking Water Protections and Financial Assistance for Massachusetts Households With Private Wells

Right now, many Massachusetts residents who rely on private wells are consuming water that may be unsafe. Over 500,000 people throughout the Commonwealth rely on these wells, yet there are no statewide regulations to ensure private well water is safe from harmful contaminants such as PFAS, arsenic, radon, uranium, and more. In contrast, public water systems are regulated by the state and are subject to routine monitoring.

In January 2023, Senator Jamie Eldridge, Representative Dan Sena, and Representative Smitty Pignatelli filed legislation which would provide equitable access to safe drinking water for all Massachusetts residents – regardless of where they live and what their financial resources are.

An Act Promoting Drinking Water Quality for All (S.482/H.902) would enable the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to develop regulations which would provide minimum statewide water quality standards for private wells supplying drinking water.

The regulations themselves would be developed by drinking water experts at MassDEP, likely in consultation with a technical advisory group and with a process for public input. To maximize public benefit, the bill would require MassDEP to evaluate practices to minimize the paperwork burden for affected parties.

In addition, the bill would expand the existing MassHousing Septic Repair Loan Program (SRLP) to provide low-income homeowners with access to financial assistance to remediate contaminated private wells.

“The importance of testing your well water is reflected in this important legislation put forth by Senator Eldridge, Representative Sena, and Representative Pignatelli,” said Brian D. Scales, President & CEO of RCAP Solutions. “Too many homeowners take for granted that their water is safe and clean. Water is all around us, we bathe in it, cook with it, and drink it on a daily basis. The only way to ensure all this water is clean and safe to consume is to have it tested.”

“We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Eldridge, Representative Sena, and Representative Pignatelli in addressing long-standing drinking water inequities,” explained Amie Shei, PhD, President & CEO of The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts. “The state regulates the wastewater leaving a home, yet it does not regulate private well water entering a home and being consumed. This legislation closes an important gap in access to safe drinking water.”

RCAP Solutions and The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts are working together to improve access to safe drinking water for private well owners. From 2020 to 2022, the Private Well Program to Protect Public Health, which has received nearly $1.5 million in grant funding from the Foundation, has conducted over 500 water quality tests across several Massachusetts towns and found that approximately 32% of wells had levels of contaminants exceeding state health standards and/or suggesting potential health risks. The Coalition for Safe Drinking Water was recently formed as a way to engage a wide range of stakeholders in working together to ensure safe drinking water for all Massachusetts residents.

For more information about this legislation, our private well programming, and the Coalition for Safe Drinking Water, please visit: www.whatsinyourwellwater.org.