Distribution System Optimization Pilot Training in Pennsylvania

On March 28th, the Optimization Team partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) to conduct a training workshop on Distribution System Optimization (DSO) for parent and consecutive water systems that use chloramine disinfection.  This was the second in a series workshops designed to improve water quality in chloraminated water systems.  The topics included an introduction to chloramine chemistry and nitrification, a review of operational control strategies to improve water quality, and updates from each of the seven systems about their activities since the previous meeting.  Potential future topics include managing storage tanks to improve water quality, implementing a disinfectant conversion, and anticipated compliance concerns with PA DEP’s new minimum disinfectant residual requirement.  The next workshop is tentatively planned for Summer 2018.

Matthew Alexander and Alison Dugan; US EPA/ TSC


Microbial / Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) CPE in Partnership with Ohio EPA

The TSC Optimization team, in partnership with Ohio EPA, conducted a developmental HAB CPE at the City of Delphos Water Treatment Plant in Delphos, OH during the week of March 19-23, 2018. This CPE was the last of a series of four pilot CPEs designed to develop an optimization evaluation tool for water treatment plants (WTPs) challenged by HABs. The CPE also served as a training opportunity for Ohio EPA staff, which included participants from all of the state’s district offices and central office. The evaluation at the Delphos WTP identified factors that could limit the plant’s performance during a HAB. Delphos staff were receptive to the week-long evaluation. They indicated that the CPE findings were informative and identified plans for further study to address the identified factors. Future engagement with Ohio EPA on water treatment plant optimization to address HABs is under consideration.

Tom Waters, Rick Lieberman, Alison Dugan and Matt Alexander; US EPA/ TSC.

Region 3 AWOP Planning Meeting and Workshop

The TSC optimization team, in partnership with the Region 3 AWOP team, led a program implementation meeting on December 12-14, 2017 in Philadelphia, PA.  Meeting participants included a mix of those regularly involved (i.e., Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, EPA’s Drinking Water Protection Branch and ASDWA), as well as those interested in learning more about the program (i.e., personnel from New Jersey and EPA Regions 1 and 5). Michigan, which recently announced their intent to join AWOP, attended this as their first multi-state AWOP meeting.

All participants provided reports on their recent AWOP activities and/or their interest in the program.  The technical topic, distribution system data integrity, was embraced by participants as a potential activity for smaller systems. Topic discussed during the strategic planning meeting included Legionella (i.e., understanding treatment options, approaches for consecutive systems); next steps for new/interested AWOP states; flushing approaches to enhance water quality; drinking water program metrics; and simultaneous compliance challenges. (Alison Dugan, US EPA – TSC)

Region 4 AWOP Strategic Planning Meeting and Workshop

The TSC optimization team, in partnership with EPA Region 4 and ASDWA, led a November 7-9 technical training workshop and strategic planning meeting in Frankfort, KY.  Participants included state drinking water program representatives from Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. States presented updates on their AWOP activities and resulting water quality impacts. The technical workshop, at the Nicholasville, KY water treatment plant, focused on evaluating corrosion control treatment. Discussion topics included a variety of PWSS and AWOP implementation issues. (Alison Dugan, Matthew Alexander, Ouro Koumai and Richard Lieberman; US EPA TSC)

Distribution System Optimization Pilot Training in Pennsylvania: 

On October 24th, the Optimization Team partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to pilot a workshop on Distribution System Optimization (DSO) for parent and consecutive water systems that use chloramine disinfection.  The workshop topics included an overview on DSO, discussion among the seven participating systems about their current monitoring activities and objectives, a review of sampling and analysis procedures, and discussion of potential (enhanced) distribution system monitoring. Candidate future topics were also discussed, including fundamentals of chloramines, strategies to effectively manage a system during a chlorine conversion (burn), and approaches for improving water quality and addressing nitrification. The next workshop is tentatively planned for Spring 2018.  (Alison Dugan and Matthew Alexander, US EPA TSC)

Region 10/8 AWOP Planning Meeting

The TSC optimization team, in partnership with EPA Region 10, led a program implementation meeting December 5-7, 2017, in Coeur d’Alene, ID.  Representatives from Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Utah and EPA Region 10 attended the meeting and representatives from Montana, Colorado, and EPA Region 8 participated remotely.  The states provided updates on their optimization efforts and highlighted performance data and impacts of their programs on public health protection. The event included a workshop on slow sand filtration optimization during which the group completed a year-long data trending project to pilot water quality optimization goals for slow sand filters with a local northern Idaho water system. Discussion covered a range of topics, including: establishing a regional comprehensive performance evaluation (CPE) team; water treatment optimization strategies for cyanobacteria; optimizing disinfectant residual in wholesale and consecutive systems; and data integrity.  (Tom Waters, US EPA/ TSC)

Region 6 Regional Applied Research Effort Project:

The TSC optimization team, in partnership with EPA Region 6, ORD, and Louisiana Department of Health, visited four water utilities in Louisiana on December 5-7, 2017 to kick off a Regional Applied Research Effort (RARE) Project.  The purpose of the project is to gain a better understanding of the impacts (e.g., on pathogens, DBPs, organic chloramines, nitrification) of maintaining a minimum disinfectant residual greater than a “trace” in chloraminated drinking water distribution systems.  The optimization team was invited to participate in this collaborative effort to introduce the participating water systems to optimization monitoring approaches for distribution systems.  (Matthew Alexander, TSC).

Investigation of Practical Issues Associated with Dichlor/Trichlor Disinfection.

Over the past six months, the TSC optimization team has collaborated with researchers from ORD to investigate monitoring interferences and implications for water systems that use chlorinated isocyanurates (also known as “dichlor/trichlor”) as a disinfectant; there is currently no approved method for measuring this disinfectant residual. Interferences with various EPA-approved free chlorine methods (DPD, indophenol, amperometric electrode) were evaluated, disinfectant residual stability and regulated DBP formation were compared, and a water chemistry model for dichlor/trichlor was updated to include temperature dependence.  Results from this investigation will be used to support OGWDW technical guidance to SDWA primacy agencies that oversee water systems using dichlor/trichlor as a disinfectant. Preliminary results were presented at the AWWA WQTC and TSC expects to jointly author a peer-reviewed journal article with ORD.  (Matthew Alexander and Alison Dugan, U.S. EPA Technical Support Center).

Region 6/7 Area-Wide Optimization Program.

The TSC optimization team, in partnership with EPA Regions 6 and 7, led a program implementation meeting October 24-26, 2017, in New Orleans, LA.  Representatives from Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Mexico, and Oklahoma attended.  The states provided updates on their optimization efforts and highlighted performance data and impacts of their programs on public health protection. The event included a technical training workshop about a disinfectant byproduct (DBP) surrogate method that may be useful as a process monitoring tool at water systems challenged by DBP formation. Discussion covered a range of topics, including: approaches to integrate data integrity review into sanitary surveys; optimizing chlorine residual in distribution systems; implementing an AWOP awards program; and integrating optimization concepts into operator certification.  (Matthew Alexander, U.S. EPA Technical Support Center).

2017 AWOP National Meeting Cincinnati, OH | August 8-9, 2017

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) partnered with the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA) to host the seventh biennial Area-Wide Optimization Program (AWOP) National Meeting in Cincinnati, OH on August 8-9, 2017. This meeting also recognized the 20th anniversary of the AWOP.  The meeting is a venue for participating states and EPA regions in the AWOP network to foster networking, share program implementation strategies, successes, challenges and lessons-learned, and to discuss strategies for building, strengthening and maintaining an effective area-wide optimization network. The meeting is also an opportunity for states that are interested in the AWOP to learn about the program and understand the path to implementing an AWOP in their state.

Over one hundred participated in the meeting, including 27 via remote access during the presentations.  Thirty state drinking water programs were represented, in addition to ASDWA, AWWA (Partnership for Safe Water), US EPA (4 Regional Offices, OGWDW and ORD) and PAI (EPA’s small business contractor supporting the optimization program).  Representatives of the City of Rockhill, SC and Mobile, AL also attended and provided case histories of water quality improvements resulting from AWOP implementation. Additional organizations implementing and/or interested in wastewater optimization programs were also represented at the meeting.  These included the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, Haldimand County (Ontario), the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA), located in Ontario, and the GRCA’s small business contractor supporting its watershed-wide wastewater optimization program.

Throughout the course of the two-day meeting, speakers shared perspectives on AWOP and participating states and EPA regions provided summaries of their optimization programs. Three interactive workshop sessions were conducted. The first workshop focused on developing status components, including case study presentations from Washington and Iowa and a workshop on improving individual filter effluent data integrity.  The next workshop topic addressed targeted performance improvement, with case studies from South Carolina and Alabama that included presentations from water treatment plant operators in those states.  The last workshop covered program maintenance and self-assessment, including a case study from Kentucky. Small group breakout discussions focused on a variety of topics including optimization for harmful algal blooms, data integrity, optimization for corrosion control, operator certification, Distribution System Optimization, AWOP integration, potential roles for Technical Assistance providers, and membrane optimization.

The AWOP National Meeting is a great opportunity for program participants to meet in person to share information, celebrate achievements and discuss lessons-learned on program implementation, tracking performance, and addressing unique drinking water quality challenges faced by states and water systems.  The variety of discussion platforms, including interactive workshops, panel discussions, small-group discussions and pre-planned presentations, allowed for effective networking and information sharing among participants. The National Optimization Leadership Team (NOLT) has reviewed and will incorporate participant feedback and lessons-learned from the meeting to improve program effectiveness and help address ongoing and future optimization challenges.

For additional information about the 2017 AWOP National Meeting, presentation and workshop materials, state and regional reports, and small group feedback, please go to the following:

  • U.S. EPA AWOP SharePoint site (in the AWOP Meeting document library):


  • ASDWA AWOP Webpage for presentation recordings: