FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 17, 2008) – Drinking water systems that made progress toward complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act in the last three years are highlighted in a report to Governor Steve Beshear.
The Kentucky Division of Water (DOW) developed the triennial report to show how its Capacity Development Program is addressing problems water systems have had in developing the technical, managerial and financial expertise they need for optimal operation.
Technical assistance and water “budgets” are among the tools of the program.
Between 2005 and 2008, environmental technologists in the DOW Drinking Water Program performed more than 2,200 technical assistance visits and consultations covering all aspects of water treatment and distribution.
They also encouraged regionalization of small systems. The results have been that in 2002, the commonwealth had 3.6 million people being served by 595 public water systems (PWS), of which 20 were identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as persistent violators of drinking water laws and regulations.
In 2005, there were 521 PWSs serving more than 3.7 million Kentuckians and 11 systems were identified as persistent violators. By September 2008, there were 492 PWSs that serve more than 93 percent of Kentucky residents. In that three-year period, 14 systems were identified as persistent violators.
A water “budget” is designed to avoid the issuance of a system-wide line extension ban or tap-on ban. A PWS nearing its system design capacity enters into an order under which it agrees to careful planning and management of available water.
The agreed order typically includes a two- to five-year planned solution to increase system design capacity, and it allows the system to grow. At present, DOW is monitoring 24 voluntary water budget agreed orders. Since the program’s inception in 2005, ten orders have been completed and closed. Without this tool, growth of the community would effectively be halted.
Another tool that DOW has found invaluable in planning water infrastructure on a watershed basis is the Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS allows public water systems and the state to digitally display, manipulate and monitor their infrastructure with aerial views. Planners use these maps to identify source water availability and underserved areas, locate cross-reference sources in preparation for water shortages, determine logical transportation of water in cases of mergers and regionalization, and monitor trends in capacity development as systems grow.
On-site technical assistance is offered to PWSs without threat of enforcement action, giving the systems an opportunity to be proactive in optimizing their technical capacity. From October 2005 through September 2008, DOW capacity development activities for small water systems (serving a population of less than 10,000) were supported by set-aside dollars from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.