20th Annual EPA Drinking Water Workshop: Small System Challenges and Solutions
We were excited to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of our workshop on September 11-24, 2023 in the Greater Cincinnati, Ohio Are. This annual workshop is hosted by EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD) and Office of Water (OW) in partnership with the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA). Approximately 400 people attended the workshop this year!
For 20 years, the workshop has brought together professionals from states and territories, Tribes, federal agencies, academia, NGOs, local agencies, and others to share the latest information on challenges facing small drinking water systems and solutions to address them. To optimize networking, increase engagement, and to promote a shared learning experience, the workshop was held entirely in-person this year.
Primarily designed for tribal, state, and territory personnel responsible for drinking water regulations compliance and treatment technologies permitting, the workshop provided current information, resources, and training needed to help in building systems capacity and sustainably and with providing equitable access to drinking water. System owners and operators, local and government personnel, academics, design engineers, technical assistance providers, and consultants also benefited from attending.
The workshop speakers and group leaders were experts in their fields from EPA and other federal agencies, state and local agencies, tribes, academia, and NGOs and associations. The workshop included ten technical presentation sessions; four In-depth training sessions; six breakout focus groups; ask the experts, models and tools demos, and posters session; and a plenary session and networking opportunities.
General inquiries about the workshop may be directed to EPA-Drinking-Water-Workshop@ICF.com.
For those who were unable to attend the event in person, opportunities to benefit from some of the sessions in a virtual setting will be provided in the fall of 2023 and in 2024. Beginning in January 2024, ASDWA will be partnering with EPA on the Agency's Small Drinking Water Systems Webinar Series. This series will continue to provide the latest information on solutions for challenges facing small drinking water systems, but will now be more of an extension of the in-person workshop as it will include presentations given during the event. Webinars in this series are typically held on the last Tuesday of the month, from 2 to 3 p.m. ET.
Attendees had the opportunity to earn approximately 15 continuing education contact hours or attendance certificates for attending the entire workshop. Certificates are typically sent via email within three-four weeks following the workshop. The agenda will be submitted to Ohio EPA for official course credits. Acceptance of certificates is contingent on your state and/or organization requirements—EPA cannot guarantee acceptance of certificates or submit certificates to states or organizations.
To support the efforts of state and local officials to assist small systems, EPA and ASDWA have held an annual workshop for the past 20 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 small drinking water system distribution, water quality, source water, treatment, and operations topics.
There are 143,066 active public water systems in the United States (including territories). Of these, 97% (138,501) are considered small systems under the Safe Drinking Water Act, meaning they serve 10,000 or fewer people.
- Small systems serving 500 or fewer people: 114,623
- Small systems serving 501-3,300 people: 18,652
- Small systems serving 3,301-10,000 people: 5,226
The number of systems are from EPA’s Government Performance and Results (GPRA) Tool (2023 Quarter 2).
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.
- Drinking Water Training
- Learn about Small Drinking Water Systems
- ASDWA Small Systems Section