NCRP Small Community Toolbox

The NCRP Small Community Toolbox provides resources and references that allow small communities to approach the management of local water and wastewater infrastructure in a systematic fashion. The Toolbox is not a substitute for professional assistance with operations, management, engineering and legal issues. Rather it is intended to help small utilities develop a “first order” understanding of what their options are, how they should begin to budget, and how to get help.

The goal of the toolbox is to provide additional resources to small communities that help them minimize gaps and allow small and or disadvantaged purveyors to more effectively move through the Utility Management Cycle and access financial and technical assistance.

The six major elements of the Utility Management Cycle are based on the typical approach used by well-run entities implementing significant infrastructure projects. Although this is illustrated here as a generalized cycle, it is adaptable to specific situations. Certain elements may be emphasized more than others; progress may not be linear and looping back or reevaluation of some phases may be warranted. The table below provides an overview of Toolbox Elements as they relate to the Utility Management Cycle.

The following link will allow you to download the Small Community Toolbox Summary Report which was designed to be used as an interactive electronic document. NCRP Small Community Toolbox Summary Report

The following link will allow you to download a zip file of the Toolbox onto your computer: 

Toolbox zip file link (56 MB)

After unzipping the folder, you will have access to a copy of the Toolbox (see instructions).

Small Community Toolbox Elements

Utility Management Cycle Element

Toolbox Element

What It Is and How It Can Be Used

Utility Management Cycle Element 1:
Organize and Plan for Success

1.1: Community Networking Directory:

A contacts database of willing participants interested in collaboration for advice and assistance.

1.2: Governance Summaries:

An overview of options, benefits, and steps required to form various types of service entities.

1.3: GIS Layers:

Census, legislative, and other public data to help agencies access information needed for applications.

Utility Management Cycle Element 2:
Match Needs to Economical Technologies

2.1: Technology Overviews:

Overviews of common issues, technologies, and evaluation factors to help select alternatives.

2.2: General Cost Estimating Charts:

Cost estimating charts to help develop order of magnitude estimates for various types and sizes of infrastructure to begin scoping overall funding strategies.

Utility Management Cycle Element 3:
Create Viable Financing Strategies

3.1: Funding Program Summaries:

A one-stop information shop about funding programs suited to small community infrastructure projects.

3.2: Capital Recovery Tables:

Lookup tables to translate the portion of total project costs not paid by grant into annual debt service requirements met through a revenue mechanism.

3.3: Financing District Summaries:

Summary of strategy options for generating revenue to pay the annual debt service.

3.4: Cash Flow Considerations:

Assists entities in understanding the funds needed to move a project through planning, design, and construction

Utility Management Cycle Element 4:
Prepare Preliminary Design, Studies, and Applications

4.1: Consolidated Preliminary Engineering Report Template:

Consolidated report outline, with model tables that will meet the needs of commonly used funding programs.

4.2: CEQA/NEPA Exemptions and Checklists:

Summary of CEQA/NEPA exemptions and checklists to aid in meeting State and Federal environmental requirements and funding program requirements.

4.3: Common Permit Triggers:

Summary chart of typical project components that often trigger different types of permits.

Utility Management Cycle Element 5:
Complete Final Design and Construction

5.1: Guidance for Hiring Professionals:

As a project moves from initial planning towards implementation, detailed, community-specific designs are required and communities will need to retain professional support.

5.2: Public Bidding Process Overview:

An explanation of how the public bidding process works, how to set up a successful project bid, and how the low bid contractor is selected

Utility Management Cycle Element 6:
Operate and Manage System

6.1: Technical, Managerial, and Financial (TMF) Resources:

Tools to help agencies be organized and managed to improve overall operations and funding competitiveness.

6.2: Regulatory Resources:

Sources to provide information to the utility operator on various federal and state regulations.

6.3: Rate Setting Guidance:

Linking the costs of projects to the need to rate increases and methods to set and change rates.

6.4: Capital Improvement Planning Resources:

Part of the ongoing Utility Management Cycle of planning for future system improvements

To learn more about this program contact: