SEPA
       United States
       Environmental Protection
       Agency
IMPLEMENTING AWOPs THROUGH
THE CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT AND
DWSRF PROGRAMS
The Capacity Development and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) programs, created by the 1996 Safe
Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Amendments, empower states to help water systems improve their abilities to comply with
the SDWA and protect public health. State DWSRFs provide low-interest loans and other loan subsidies to eligible water
systems for infrastructure improvements. State DWSRFs may also set aside resources to encourage enhanced water
system management and performance. This fact sheet highlights how the Capacity Development and DWSRF programs
give states the authority, tools, and resources needed to implement Area-Wide Optimization Programs (AWOPs).
 WHAT is AN AWOP?
An AWOP is a strategy for targeting groups of higher risk systems for state assistance to maximize the public health
protection that water treatment plants provide.  State drinking water programs work with hundreds of water treatment
plants that protect the public from a broad range of health risks from waterborne contaminants. Although states have a
variety of tools to aid systems, from sanitary surveys to direct technical assistance, their resources are limited. Conse-
quently, states need to prioritize their efforts according to the gravity of the potential public health risks posed by poorly
performing water treatment plants. The challenge states face is to match their oversight of, and assistance to, water
systems with the estimated risks posed to public health.

Because state drinking water programs have direct contact with treatment plants, state programs play the major role in
implementating AWOPs. State staff develop criteria to prioritize systems and evaluate system performance. Then, they
use the most appropriate tools and assistance to  optimize system performance and address public health risks. However,
several other parties can support the implementation of state AWOPs. For instance, Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) Headquarters and Regional staff can facilitate meetings between key parties, arrange training, help integrate new
technologies and technical components, and phase in new regulations. Non-governmental organizations may be hired to
provide training and other forms of technical assistance.
 WHAT ARE  THE BENEFITS OF AN AWOP?
The primary benefit of an AWOP is improved performance of drinking water treatment
plants, which increases protection against waterborne disease.  Other benefits from
AWOPs include:
       Systems receive the tools needed to comply with drinking water rules such as the
       Long Term 1 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule, the Stage 1 Disinfection
       Byproducts Rule, and the Ground Water Rule (under development).
       Systems better understand their roles in treatment optimization and public health
       protection.
       A system operator's ability to apply new technical concepts is enhanced, resulting
       in sustained improvements in plant operation.
       New communication and networking opportunities for state and water system
       staff are created, which carries benefits over into other programs (such as opera-
       tor certification, construction standards, and plan review).
       The useful life of existing infrastructure is prolonged by optimizing performance,
       reducing the need to invest scarce resources in new facilities to achieve compliance.
       States effectively and efficiently use limited resources.
                                            One of the most
                                              cost-effective
                                            ways a state can
                                               improve an
                                             existing plant's
                                            ability to protect
                                            public health is to
                                              optimize the
                                            performance of
                                             treatment tech-
                                            nologies already
                                                in  place.

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  WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS OF AN AWOP?
An AWOP has three components: Status, Targeted Performance Improvements, and Maintenance. In general, Status
activities center around establishing the performance goals that the state will pursue and measuring the performance of
plants against these goals.  The focus of Targeted Performance Improvements is to decide which of the various assistance
tools is appropriate for each treatment plant. More advanced tools may be needed for plants that pose higher risks to
public health. For example, Performance Based Training (PBT), where groups of  plant operators are taken through a
series of facilitated training sessions that address key skills to meet AWOP performance goals, may be needed. Mainte-
nance activities include using lessons learned from AWOP efforts to improve the AWOP.

The three  components of an AWOP create a coordinated, dynamic process that can be applied to a wide range of
treatment plant performance problems and drinking water requirements. Figure 1 illustrates the specific activities that
constitute each component.
 FIGURE 1: COMPONENTS OF AN AWOP
                            Status
      Establish optimized performance goals.
      Continuously monitor and assess plant performance.
      Prioritize systems based on public health risk using factors such as
      finished water turbidity data, records of source water quality,
      Comprehensive Performance Evaluations (CPEs), and sanitary
      surveys.
      Develop a professional relationship with water utility staff to
      encourage sustained performance improvement.
                        Maintenance
      Integrate lessons learned back into the AWOP.
      Review and revise program components, such as performance
      goals, as needed.
      Integrate findings from AWOP activities into other related state
      programs (design reviews, permitting, training activities, and
      sanitary surveys).
      Train staff on new technical tools related to AWOP
      implementation.
      Initiate and sustain quality control activities.
 Targeted Performance Improvements
Use existing tools (e.g., Sanitary Surveys and
CPEs) to determine the factors limiting
system performance and help plant operators
understand the changes needed to optimize
performance.
Implement appropriate follow-up at the
highest risk systems.
Provide "Comprehensive Technical
Assistance" (CTA) to the highest risk systems
to make the changes needed to optimize
performance.
Use additional performance improvement
tools, such as operator training and
Performance Based Training (PBT), for
groups of plants with moderate to high risk.
Support other optimization tools (e.g.,
Partnership for Safe Water, self-assessments)
for lower risk plants.
  How is AN AWOP IMPLEMENTED?
In implementing an AWOP, a state's first step is to develop an objective way to evaluate the public health risks posed by
water treatment plants. The state then identifies treatment plants that may be underperforming and determines the factors
causing their poor performance.  Based on these risks and challenges, the state can provide the water systems with re-
sources, such as performance-based assessments, training, and assistance, to maximize public health protection.  The state
reviews its efforts and integrates the lessons learned back into the AWOP and other state programs.
  WHAT is THE LINK BETWEEN AWOPs AND CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT?
State Capacity Development programs offer an excellent opportunity for implementing AWOPs.  Because assistance
resources are often scarce, some Capacity Development programs focus primarily on significant noncompliers and small
systems. States can complement these important efforts by implementing an AWOP to maximize the public health
benefits of existing water treatment facilities. Most states can quickly expand or adapt their Capacity Development

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efforts to implement AWOPs, which would improve the technical and managerial capacity of more complex water
systems (i.e., those with sophisticated treatment) without significantly depleting the resources available to help smaller
systems.

Under the SDWA, a state must develop and implement a strategy to improve the technical, managerial, and financial
capacity of existing public water systems.  This strategy should include five elements.  These elements, and how an AWOP
can fulfill each one, are detailed in Figure 2.
       FIGURE 2: CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM ELEMENTS
SDWA Cite Element AWOP
1420(c)(2)(A)
1420(c)(2)(B)
1420(c)(2)(Q
1420(c)(2)(D)
1420(c)(2)(E)
Prioritize systems most in need of
improving capacity
Identify the factors that encourage or
impair the capacity of water systems
Use the authority and resources of
the SDWA to enhance technical,
managerial, and financial capacity
Establish a baseline and measure the
capacity improvements of systems in
the state
Involve stakeholders in state efforts
to improve water system capacity
States can prioritize systems based on threats to
public health using historical source water quality,
performance data, and other factors.
Systems and states can work together to identify
factors limiting performance.
States can use DWSRF set-asides and other forms
of assistance to fund sanitary surveys, CPEs,
training, and other tools to improve technical and
managerial capacity.
States can compare post-AWOP data with pre-
AWOP data to gauge capacity improvement.
States can work directly with systems and other
drinking water organizations to provide technical
assistance.
  How CAN DWSRF SUPPORT AWOP ACTIVITIES?
States use DWSRF capitalization grant funds to provide low-interest loans and other loan subsidies to publicly- and
privately-owned public water systems for infrastructure improvements needed to continue to ensure safe drinking water.
States can reserve a portion of their grants to finance activities that encourage enhanced water system management and
performance. Funds for set-aside activities that are focused on drinking water program management, capacity develop-
ment, and technical assistance can be used by a state to enhance its own program management activities and to assist
systems directly using state staff or third-party contractors.

Figure 3 shows the specific AWOP activities that could be funded by DWSRF set-asides.  Since the DWSRF program is
managed by states, set-aside funding decisions are made at the state level. Given that each state administers its own
program differently, the first step in seeking assistance is to contact the state DWSRF representative, who can be found on
the EPA DWSRF website.
          FIGURE 3: AWOP ACTIVITIES ELIGIBLE FOR DWSRF SET-ASIDE FUNDING
                                                           WSRF Set-Aside Catesror
                                          echnical Assistance
Technical
                 AWOP Activity
          Program Management (data entry,
          reporting, travel)
& Other State
  Programs
          Conducting CPEs*
          PBT Facilitation*
          Equipment for CPEs & PBTs
            * by state staff or third-party contractors

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 WHAT ARE  STATE EXPERIENCES WITH  AWOPs?
AWOPs are being piloted in EPA Regions 3, 4, 6, and 10. EPA Region 4 has a multi-state pilot project that involves South
Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Florida. Kentucky's experience is profiled below (see Figure
4). Early results indicate that full implementation of AWOPs is resulting in improved public health protection for opti-
mized systems and enhanced staff expertise  at the state level.
   FIGURE 4: KENTUCKY CASE STUDY
                                                   DEMONSTRATED PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT
                                                              BY KENTUCKY'S AWOP
                                                            D Williamsburg
                                                             Pikeville
Kentucky's AWOP has allowed technical
assistance staff to identify and target poor
performance, which has led to dramatic
improvements in the state's drinking water
quality. Since 1998,  one of Kentucky's worst
performing treatment plants experienced a
dramatic turnaround after the state adopted
optimized performance goals and communi-
cated the public health implications to utilities
through implementation of its AWOP.  Plant
staff subsequently improved the facility's
performance by washing filters at lower
turbidity triggers, filtering to waste, and
optimizing coagulation. The facility's perfor-
mance relative to the optimized filtered water
turbidity goal of less than 0.1 nephelometric
unit (NTU) went from 17 percent in 1998 to
73 percent in 1999 and 84 percent in 2000.

(Source: State of Kentucky. Department of Environmental Protection, Area-Wide Optimization Annual Report
for 2000)
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  FOR  MORE INFORMATION...
             AWOP, Capacity Development, an
                    DWSRF Information
          Area-Wide Optimisation Program
         U.S. EPA
         Technical Support Center
         26 West Martin Luther King Drive
         Cincinnati, Ohio 45268
         Phone: 513-569-7874
         Fax:  513-569-7191

         Capacity Development
         http://www.epa.gov/safewater/smallsys.html

         DWSTiF Website
         http://www.epa.gov/safewater/dwsrf.html
                                                            General Information
                                                SDWA Hotline
                                                1-800-426-4791
                                                EPA's Ground Water and Drinking Water

                                                http://www.epa.gov/safewater/
                                                Office of Water (4606M)
                                                EPA 816-F-03-019
                                                June 2003

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