The National Environmental Services Center has developed an online evaluation tool to help the state’s drinking water systems assess their resiliency and keep them in compliance with safe drinking water regulations.

The West Virginia Water System Evaluation Tool, developed with a grant from the state Bureau of Public Health, allows operators of state drinking water systems to input data to determine their financial, technical and managerial status and offers solutions to help strengthen their facility’s long-term plan.

“State drinking water systems are providing a service to the public. That service is safe drinking water. This tool allows for long-term planning, so they won’t run the risk of being out of compliance if an emergency occurs,” Jennifer Hause, NESC’s technical assistance manager, said. “It gives them more of a holistic, global view of what it takes to run a system, shows them the areas where they are weak and provides tools to strengthen those areas. The goal is to be a successful, capable water system.”

BPH conducts a baseline assessment of state drinking water systems every three years. The electronic tool will allow it to more accurately track the capacity development of the systems and to analyze results through the tool’s database in between assessment periods.

“This tool will give water system operators a more accurate understanding of how their system is functioning from the perspective of management, finances and technical development,” Hause said.

BPH-sponsored assistants will contact individual water system operators and administer the 59-question evaluation tool, which will provide immediate feedback through a percentage score representing how well the system is functioning. The tool also will offer advice to correct any flagged weaknesses.

The evaluation tool also contains resources for operators including educational assistance, such as guidelines, checklists and fact sheets; a listing of state organization assistance providers; and contacts within BPH.

“We hope this user-friendly, computer-based electronic tool will make the process of accessing state water systems easier by both accurately identifying deficiencies and offering advice to correct those problems,” Hause said.

For more information about the evaluation tool, contact Hause at 1-800-624-8301, ext. 5564, or at jhause@wvu.edu.

Housed at West Virginia University’s National Research Center for Coal and Energy, NESC is a federally funded program that helps small and rural communities with their water, wastewater, management and infrastructure resilience challenges. To learn more about NESC, call 1-800-624-8301 or visit www.nesc.wvu.edu.

BPH implements West Virginia’s Capacity Development Program with a mandated mission to help the state’s water systems acquire and maintain the technical, managerial and financial wherewithal needed to meet the requirements of public drinking water statutes and regulations.

To learn more about BPH, visit www.wvdhhr.org/bph.

-WVU-

ne/11/10/09

CONTACT: Jennifer Hause, National Environmental Services Center
304-293-4191 or 1-800-624-8301, ext. 5564