Technical, Managerial, and Financial Capacity Among Small Water Systems

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In 2009, legislators asked the Washington State Department of Health's Office of Drinking Water (ODW) why small systems were coming to the legislature to resolve water system emergencies. The ODW already had a number of tools to reduce emergency requests, including a sanitary survey, certification training, workshops, one-on-one technical support, and the financial analysis conducted as part of a Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) loan application. But because existing prioritization and needs-identification schemas are based solely on systems' compliance records, the ODW needed an additional tool to quantify technical, managerial, and financial (TMF) capacity among small systems to more effectively prioritize and direct technical assistance. ODW staff responded by designing a 17-question survey to gauge that capacity. In fall 2011 the ODW conducted the survey of 562 systems, receiving 304 responses. This empirical study reports the results of that survey and supports the contention that the survey results contribute to a better understanding of the small systems in Washington.