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17th Annual EPA Drinking Water Workshop: Small System Challenges and Solutions

Date and Time

Monday 08/31/2020 11:00AM EDT to Thursday 09/03/2020 5:30PM EDT
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Virtual Workshop


Workshop Recordings

All technical sessions were recorded and will be posted to EPA's website by the end of September 2020.

17th annual drinking water workshop banner. images: water faucet filling glass, biological treatment, arsenic treatment, waterboy, small system

EPA's free annual drinking water workshop, held in partnership with the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA), took place on September 1-3, 2020 with in-depth training offered on August 31. The workshop was virtual this year and provided in-depth information and training on solutions and strategies for handling small drinking water system challenges with a focus on monitoring, distribution, source, and treatment topics.


View or Download the Agenda     

The workshop speakers and group leaders were experts in their fields from EPA and other federal agencies, state and local agencies, academia, associations, and the private sector. The technical sessions of the workshop included topics such as disinfectants and disinfection byproducts, contaminants of emerging concern (including PFAS and algal toxins), pathogens and disinfection, source water quality and protection, corrosion and lead, contaminant removal and management, methods and analytics, implementing innovative treatments, and distribution system best practices.

The in-depth training included sanitary surveys, corrosion control treatment, and distribution systems and treatment models training. Technical breakout focus group discussion sessions were offered for primacy agency staff and communication and outreach focus group discussions were offered for all attendees.


The workshop was primarily designed for state primacy agency staff responsible for drinking water regulations compliance and treatment technologies permitting; however, others benefited, including territory, tribal, and local primacy staff, water system operators, academics, design engineers, technical assistance providers, and consultants.

Training Hours

CertificateAtendees had the option to receive a certificate of attendance for each training and session and can earn up to 16 hours for participtating in the entire workshop. Hours for each training and session are listed on the agenda. Certificates will be distributed via the email provided at registration within two weeks of the workshop conclusion.

Workshop History

15th Annual EPA Drinking Water WorkshopTo 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 16 years 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 designed as an educational opportunity for state staff working with small communities to install arsenic treatment technologies.

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

In 2019, the 16th annual workshop attracted over 420 attendees from 42 states (including 3 Tribal Nations), 4 territories, and the District of Columbia. Attendees included representatives from federal, tribal, state, and local governments, water utilities, NGOs and associations, universities, and private consulting groups/industry.​

Agenda from the 16th Annual Workshop

About Small Systems

Small water utility in the U.S.As of Quarter 1 of Fiscal Year 2020, there are 145,610 active public water systems in the United States (including territories). Of these, 97% (141,183) are considered small systems under the Safe Drinking Water Act, meaning they serve 10,000 or fewer people.

  • Small systems serving 3,301-10,000 people: 5,259
  • Small systems serving 501-3,300 people: 18,715
  • Small systems serving 500 or fewer people: 117,209

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 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. In addition to the annual workshop, EPA also holds a free monthly small systems webinar series to provide training and foster collaboration and dissemination of information. This series provides a forum for EPA to communicate directly with state personnel and other drinking water small systems professionals, which, 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 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.

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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