October 30, 2008 by NRCEE News
State Grant Will Develop Online Assessment Tool, Training Program
Morgantown, W.Va. — A West Virginia University environmental program was recently awarded nearly $400,000 from the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health to help drinking water systems assess their financial and managerial status.
The National Environmental Services Center (NESC), a program of the NRCCE at WVU, will develop an online assessment tool that will allow state drinking water systems to input data to determine how healthy they are with respect to their finances and management. Along with this assessment tool, NESC will create a six-part curriculum designed to train local officials about topics ranging from budgeting to personnel issues to public relations. “A professional workforce and well operated system are essential for providing good drinking water and safeguarding public health,” said Gerald Iwan, Ph.D., NESC director. “While larger systems have many resources and staff with expertise in biology, chemistry, engineering, computer applications, and other disciplines, small systems—such as those common in West Virginia—usually have only one or two employees,” he said. The Water System Evaluation Tool and a Utility Management Training Institute program for the state’s drinking water systems will be designed to bridge this gap, he reported. The effort is expected to take 12 months.
The online evaluation tool will be developed over the winter and piloted in 10 communities beginning in spring 2009. Meanwhile, the utility management training program, modeled on a similar endeavor in Kentucky, will be tested at six locations around West Virginia prior to being completed in 2009.
Located at the West Virginia University NRCCE, the National Environmental Services Center (NESC) helps small and rural communities with their water, wastewater, management, infrastructure security, and solid waste challenges. To learn more about NESC, call (800) 624-8301 or visit www.nesc.wvu.edu.
The Bureau for Public Health (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 their Web site at http://www.dhhr.wv.gov/bph/Pages/default.aspx.