Know your Water  Sector Systems
       A firm understanding of your community's water system is critical to the success of providing safe and reliable
       water and wastewater services for residents. While there is a great deal to know about your community's water
       systems, the following questions can serve as the foundation for understanding the challenges your utilities face.
       Use them as a guide for your conversations or as the core information in a fact sheet from your utility management.

       Although the majority of questions can apply to both  drinking water and wastewater facilities, it is important to note
       those questions that are only relevant to one particular type of system.
                                  Drinking Water Facilities
                                            Wastewater Facilities
How many service connections do we have and what is our population served?
When was our utility formed and how old are the oldest parts of the system?
                               What are the main components of our
                               drinking water system?
                               ° Include treatment train, storage,
                                and distribution
                               How much drinking water is our present
                               treatment system(s) capable of producing
                               per day?
                               o How much of that capacity do we
                                typically use?
                               What is the source and quality of our
                               drinking water?
                               How many miles of distribution pipe
                               do we have?
                                        What are the main components of our
                                        wastewater system?
                                        ° Include collection, treatment train,
                                         and discharge
                                        How much wastewater can our present
                                        system treat per day?
                                        ° How much of that capacity do we
                                         typically use?

                                        Where does our wastewater treatment
                                        system discharge?
                                        How many miles of collection pipe
                                        do we have?
                                            Decentralized Wastewater/Septic Systems
                               Does a portion of our community rely on septic systems or other onsite
                               wastewater treatment?
                               » If so, what percentage and in what areas of the community?
                               Do we have information on the soundness of septics in our community?
                               Do we have water quality challenges resulting from failing septics?
                               Do we have policies, codes, or approaches for managing septics or onsite systems,
                               or is that left up to individuals?
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What are our present rates?
What has been our history of rate changes over the past 10 years?
Do we offer subsidized or "lifeline" rates to any of our customers?
                                    What is our drinking water rate structure and
                                    does it encourage conservation of water?
                                    Do all customers have meters that measure
                                    their water use?
                                             What is our wastewater rate structure and
                                             is it linked to drinking water use?
Have we had any violations or significant deficiencies in the past three years?
° If yes, have the causes been corrected?
What are the three most common customer complaints?
What are the biggest challenges our water utility faces?
Do we have an inventory or registry of all the components that make up our system?
Do we have a complete map of all the assets that make up the system—and is it digital
or on paper?
Do we have a system for determining the useful life of infrastructure assets based on
their condition?
Do we prioritize capital investments based on the likelihood and consequences of assets "failing"?
Do our rates cover the costs of operations, maintenance, and capital investment needs?
° If not, how are we paying for everything—or what areas are we underfunding?
Do we have projections of how our service population is likely to change? Is the capacity
of our infrastructure suited to those changes?
                                    At what rate have we been replacing our
                                    distribution pipes?
                                    What percentage of drinking water is lost to
                                    leaking distribution pipes?
                                    Have we studied the long-term stability
                                    of our water supply? What were the
                                             At what rate have we been replacing our
                                             collection system pipes?
                                             What percentage of wastewater reaching
                                             our treatment plant is the result of inflow
                                             and infiltration?
         To learn more about how local officials can help support sustainable water infrastructure in their communities,
EPA-832-F-10-023  | June 2011
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