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15th Annual EPA Drinking Water Workshop: Small Systems Challenges and Solutions

Date and Time

Tuesday 08/28/2018 8:30AM EDT to Thursday 08/30/2018 12:00PM EDT
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Cincinnati Marriott at RiverCenter and the Northern Kentucky Convention Center
10 West RiverCenter Blvd
Covington, KY 41011


15 annual drinking water workshop banner. images: water faucet filling glass, biological treatment, arsenic treatment, waterboy, small system This free annual workshop, held in partnership with the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA), provided in-depth information and training on various solutions and strategies for handling small drinking water system challenges. It is primarily designed for state personnel responsible for drinking water regulations compliance and treatment technologies permitting; however, others may also benefit, including system owners and operators, local and tribal government personnel, academics, design engineers, technical assistance providers, and consultants.

  • Agenda and Session Information

    The workshop took place on Tuesday, August 28, 2018 and concluded on Thursday, August 30, 2018.  A proceedings of the workshop will be available on this webpage in late fall 2018.

    The workshop speakers and group leaders were experts in their fields from EPA and other federal agencies, state and local agencies, academia, organizations, and associations. The workshop included multiple sessions and activities:

    • Hot topics panel discussion and ask the experts session
    • Nine technical sessions
    • Six breakout groups
    • Three hands-on training session options
    • Models and tools demonstrations
    • Live broadcast sessions for those unable to attend the workshop (see box on right)
    • Two plenary sessions

    The technical sessions of the workshop included distribution systems and monitoring and treatment topics, such as service lines and premise plumbing, infrastructure repair and replacement, contaminants of emerging concern (including PFAS and algal toxins), inorganics, Revised Total Coliform Rule implementation, risk management and crisis communication, pathogens and biofilms, disinfection residuals and byproducts, field investigations, and others.

    The hands-on training sessions options included (1) iron and manganese control, (2) microbial and Disinfection Byproducts Rule violations and treatment optimization, and (3) Legionella control strategies.

  • Continuing Education Contact Hours

    Up to 15 continuing education contact hours were offered for attending the entire workshop. Those viewing the three live broadcast sessions of the workshop, which were included as part of EPA's small systems monthly webinar series (see  Agenda and Session Information section), could earn 1.5 continuing education contact hours for each session, for a total of 4.5 hours for all three sessions. 

    Certificates are typically provided within two weeks following the workshop via the email provided by the attendee at registration. Contact hour credits are provided in collaboration with Ohio EPA

  • Workshop History

    Small systems workshop attendance history from 2004-2017To support the efforts of state and local officials to assist small systems, EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) and Office of Water (OW), in cooperation with ASDWA, has held an annual workshop for the past 14 years in Cincinnati, Ohio to provide timely information on a variety of drinking water topics relevant to small systems. When the first workshop was held in 2004, it was by invitation only and was designed as an educational workshop for state field staff working with small communities to install arsenic treatment technologies.

    In 2008, at the encouragement of state agencies, the workshop was open to the public, and was expanded to include multiple small drinking water system topics, including treatment technology options, infrastructure challenges and solutions, regulation implementation, compliance issues, and emerging contaminants.

    2017 Small systems workshop attendees and presenter14th Annual Workshop 

    The 2017 workshop attracted over 300 attendees from 43 states and territories. Attendees included representatives from the following:

    • 34 State Drinking Water Programs
    • 17 Water Utilities
    • 4 Tribal Nations
    • 3 Foreign Nations
    • 7 Federal Agencies*
    • 13 Universities
    • 17 NGOs and Associations
    • 29 Technical Assistance Provider/Consulting Groups 

    *Federal agencies: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Indian Health Service, National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

  • Information and Research on Small Drinking Water Systems

    Small water utility in the U.S.In the United States, there are 150,110 operational public water systems (PWS). Of these, 97% (145,733) are considered small systems under the Safe Drinking Water Act, meaning they serve 10,000 or fewer people. Small systems serve approximately 21% of the population receiving drinking water from PWS. While many of these active small systems consistently provide safe, reliable drinking water to their customers, many face a number of challenges in their ability to achieve and maintain system sustainability. Some of these small system challenges include lack of expertise to choose, operate, and maintain systems; lack of financial resources; aging infrastructure; limited options for residual disposal; and state primacy agencies with limited resources to support the large number of small systems.

    EPA's small systems research is developing tools, technologies, and approaches to help small systems lower costs and provide safe drinking water now and in the future. EPA also conducts monthly small systems webinar series, which is providing a forum for EPA to communicate directly with state personnel and other drinking water small systems professionals and allows EPA to provide training and foster collaboration and dissemination of information. This, in turn, provides state agencies with the information and resources they need to communicate the latest scientific advancements and current guidance to their small systems. The webinars are also providing EPA with invaluable information from the states on the problems that they are currently encountering in their interactions with small systems. EPA scientists and engineers can then modify their research to solve real-world small system problems.

    Additional EPA Resources


For questions about the workshop, contact Michelle Latham at or 513-569-7601.

Hosted By

U.S. EPA's Office of Research and Development and Office of Water, in partnership with the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators

Event Type