EPA’s Technical Support Center optimization team, in partnership with Region 4 and ASDWA, led a training exercise and Area Wide Optimization Program (AWOP) strategic planning meeting March 29-31, 2016 in Charleston, SC. Participants included state drinking water program representatives from Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. State staff members presented an overview of their AWOP activities and 2015 accomplishments, and utilized the forum to discuss a variety of relevant drinking water program implementation issues.
A special feature of the meeting was the presentation of a possible pilot program to involve third party technical assistance (TA) providers in implementation of AWOP, specifically distribution system optimization (DSO). TA providers attended from the region’s Rural Water affiliates (Alabama Rural Water Association, Florida Rural Water Association, Tennessee Association of Utility Districts, South Carolina Rural Water Association, Kentucky Rural Water Association, North Carolina Rural Water Association), and Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) organizations (Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, Communities Unlimited). All attendees participated in a day long workshop which focused on facilitation of technical approaches to achieve distribution system optimization at water systems. The proposed approach divides the training and facilitation duties, with state staff providing the technical training for water systems. The TA providers would then facilitate the activities with water system staff as they implement the technical tools in their own distribution systems. After completing the workshop and becoming more familiar with the expectations for all parties, the TA providers and states all embraced this joint implementation approach. Several of the state and TA representatives agreed on action plans to implement this collaborative DSO training approach with water systems during the coming year. The AWOP National Optimization Leadership Team will monitor the success of the Region 4 pilot and consider expanding the pilot to other regional AWOPs in the future.