NCRP Water & Wastewater Service Provider Outreach & Support Program

REGIONAL NEED and PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

The North Coast region has nearly 300 water supply and wastewater treatment service providers, many of which are impacted by inadequate, failing or non-existent infrastructure. Many of these facilities were built decades ago to serve much smaller communities. Many of these providers are geographically isolated, serve economically disadvantaged communities, are under staffed and lack current technological advancements, making infrastructure improvements difficult to finance. The North Coast Resource Partnership (NCRP) was awarded funding from the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to implement a pilot program to address these capacity and quality of service challenges.

The objective of the pilot program has been to contact small, rural, economically disadvantaged service providers to identify unmet project needs and provide technical support and tools to help sustain safe and effective water and wastewater service into the future. Water and wastewater providers serving communities in the North Coast region were surveyed to determine technical, managerial, and financial needs and project priorities.  The System Needs Survey Summary was drafted and used to inform the choice of capacity building workshop and training topics and to identify resources and tools to help meet common challenges.  

This program included a series of 15 workshops held throughout the region designed to engage small water and wastewater providers and provide training opportunities.  Workshops included discussions of upcoming state water bond funding and system needs, assistance in identifying projects, opportunities to network with neighboring utility systems, and, in some cases, computer workstations to upload projects into the Integrated Regional Water Management Plan. The workshops also provided an opportunity to orient providers to tools intended to help them meet their project development needs. Instruction was also provided on topics such as when and how to increase rates, how to develop and maintain a capital improvement plan, laws and regulations, system operation and maintenance, ethics and policies, emergency procedures, and project management. Over 250 participants took part in these workshops and trainings.

SMALL COMMUNITY TOOLBOX

The Small Community Toolbox has been created to provide resources to help with system maintenance, replacement and upgrades as well as to assist in the project development process. The Toolbox is intended to help small utilities develop a “first order” understanding of what their options are, how they should begin to budget, where to find funding opportunities, and how to get help. This resource is organized around the steps associated with the “Utility Management Cycle”. Tools contained in the Toolbox may be provided as documents, maps, charts, or links to web resources. The Small Community Toolbox webpage contains more detail about this program and provides access to the tools.

DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS

Demonstration Projects are being used to “beta-test” the Small Community Toolbox, provide real engineering support to providers, and allow for the development of case studies to serve as examples for the North Coast Region and the state as a whole. Under this program, demonstration project hosts have received assistance with the development of preliminary funding applications and pre-applications to a variety of grant programs, lists of funding opportunities specific to their project, preliminary engineering reports, and or project feasibility analysis. The Small Community Toolbox Demonstration Projects webpage contains more information as well as the case studies or lists of recommendations associated with each project.

HOW TO GET ASSISTANCE

It is important to recognize that many project development issues and challenges faced by any one small community have already been addressed by other communities. For this reason the Community Networking Directory was created as a reference to other service providers who may be able to give advice, guidance, and assistance.

A list of Local Assistance Agencies was also created as a resource for assistance with preliminary project scoping, funding applications, and system maintenance. In addition, these agencies interact quite a bit with small water and wastewater service providers and may be able to recommend another provider that has experience with the issue you are facing.

To learn more about this program contact: