Improving Reliability, Sustainability & Operational Integrity of Small Drinking Water Systems.

Recently I was reading an article which identified how to improve the reliability of small drinking water systems and it touched on one of my hot buttons—what can we do, as professional engineers and water resource experts, to educate our colleagues and communities about the challenges of maintaining secure, reliable, and sustainable small water systems?

Did you know that of the approximately 156,000 public water systems about 94% of these are considered small, “serving fewer than 10,000 people”? And of this group “74% of the very smallest serve fewer than 500 people,” and are typically faced with a greater number of health-based violations. It is clear that before we can teach others, we must first be able to answer how these small systems can best serve and protect the public’s health; operate with integrity and trust of the public; maintain a secure, reliable, and sustainable operation; and retain qualified operators to ensure the systems ongoing success?

As I have attended numerous operator training seminars and professional conferences over the years, the same age old questions continue to plague our profession:

  • How do we maintain a high level of awareness of the importance of our operations community within our cities, counties, and states?
  • How do we transfer knowledge to TWUA members and others to assist and ensure operational integrity?

The answer lies in networking. Yep, we have to share our knowledge—tell our stories.

Our group, TWUA, provides educational opportunities in various modes, including regional schools; state-wide conferences; and video conferences and online training opportunities; yet the implementation of a true network for the exchange of information is still needed. TWUA is the perfect hub for the exchange of information and the dissemination of specific solutions targeted towards water resource issues, including operational and new project issues from design through construction. Sharing problems and solutions and the tried-and-true “what not to do” with each other is essential. This sharing of knowledge through TWUA creates a professional forum for the exchange of ideas that help promote public acceptance and sustainability of our water-related projects.

Our challenge as water professionals is improving the public perception of who we are and the value we provide to all public drinking water systems. TWUA is positioned to assist all of us in being providers of information used for training, public awareness, system solutions, and regulatory compliance. In essence, TWUA builds reliability, sustainability, and operational integrity. Combining real world experiences within TWUA allows us to collaborate and exchange needed information to improve our systems and, more importantly, safeguard our public who depend on our expertise each and every day to provide a safe, reliable, and sustainable water supply.