Protecting Pennsylvania’s water resources means looking at the BIG PICTURE over the LONG TERM. It also means bringing EVERYONE to the table and COLLABORATING to secure positive change.

Today’s water quality challenges come from all directions.  Because water is a critical resource–and one that can provide Pennsylvania with a competitive advantage–aggressive actions are under way at PA DEP to ensure the Department is even more effective in protecting public health and the environment in the years ahead.

The 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) amendments identifies drinking water system technical, managerial, and financial capacity as important factors in providing quality drinking water. Furthermore, it requires states to develop and implement a program to ensure that new and existing water systems have these capacities in place. In Pennsylvania, the Capability Enhancement (CE) program was created to meet this requirement.

The CAPABILITY ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM evaluates a system’s current needs, develops an assistance plan to meet those needs, and provides facilitation between all of the parties needed to implement the assistance plan. FOR FREE!

Our program fills a gap in the relationship between DEP and the regulated community. We offer the one-on-one, old-fashioned outreach that so many small communities need.
–Dan Mikesic, Capability Enhancement Facilitator

The CE program provides assistance to all sizes of water systems AT NO COST and is intended to act as a working partnership between water systems and DEP, outside of the usual enforcement climate. It goes beyond the typical technical assistance programs offered to local government, providing help in many different areas, including:

  • Facility Auditing
  • Management Planning
  • Operations Planning
  • Emergency Response Planning
  • Financial Planning
  • Yearly Budget Preparation
  • Rate Structure Analysis
  • Record Keeping and Reporting
  • Funding Guidance
  • ID Partnerships and Assistance Providers
  • Asset Management
  • Consolidation and Regionalization Planning

Is There a Cost for this Service?

There is no cost for providing technical, managerial, or financial assistance services. However, in order to improve the system’s operations, some expenditures may result from implementation of program recommendations.

HOW Does it Work?

The three full-time Capability Enhancement Facilitators (CEFs) are available to focus on individual drinking water system needs.  They work with the system’s management to determine their priorities.  Once that has been completed, the CEF brings the necessary assistance providers to the table to assess, plan, and implement.

Examples of CE program offerings:

The Engineering Services Program (ESP) provides free engineering services to communities that have special drinking water concerns (source yields, groundwater being impacted by surface water, etc.)

The Filter Plant Performance Evaluation Program (FPPE) helps surface water system operators optimize their filter plant’s performance to meet the state requirements. The program evaluations provide systems with a comprehensive overview of their treatment process and recommendations on the steps that should be taken to improve performance.

The Outreach Assistance Program (OAPP) is the primary on-site provider of technical assistance. Over one hundred individuals (all of whom are state certified and currently employed as a full-time operator at a drinking water system) have been contracted by DEP to provide one-on-one assistance to other system operators and owners.

Because so many water systems suffer from similar problems, the Capability Enhancement Program also offers Global Assistance in the form of specialized training to help water systems improve their abilities in specific areas such as developing an Operations and Maintenance Plan or an Emergency Response Plan.

Certified Operator Requirements

In 2002, the Drinking Water and Wastewater Systems Operator’s Certification Act (Act 11) was amended. Together with new requirements of the 1996 Amendments to the SDWA, Act 11 established a new enforcement priority for DEP.

In a nutshell, the legislation requires that an appropriately CERTIFIED OPERATOR make all process control decisions at a drinking water system. The employment of a full-time certified operator is a challenge for many of Pennsylvania’s drinking water systems, particularly in rural areas where the availability of a certified operator is often limited.

The CE Program works in conjunction with the Operator Certification Program to help systems obtain the services of a certified operator; coordinate training and testing of certified operators to meet the needs of a group of water systems; and help water systems obtain grants to reimburse their efforts to have a certified operator trained and tested.

Over the past four years, sixty-one water systems have participated in the Capability Enhancement Program. Whether it is free engineering services, help in securing grants and loans, reducing energy costs, or just tweaking plant operations, the Capability Enhancement Program is making a difference for Pennsylvania’s public drinking water systems.

On-site Assistance

Below is a partial list of the on-site hands-on assistance services the Capability Enhancement program can provide:

  • Facility Auditing
  • Management Planning
  • Operations Planning
  • Emergency Response Planning
  • Financial Planning
  • Yearly Budget Preparation
  • Rate Structure Analysis
  • Record Keeping and Reporting
  • Funding Guidance
  • Asset Management
  • Consolidation and Regionalization Planning

Stay up to date on the CE program at DEPs website. Go >>

Eligibility

Any community or non-profit noncommunity water system, serving 10,000 or fewer persons, are eligible for the services provided by the Capability Enhancement Program.

Need More Information?

If you think your water system could benefit from the technical, managerial, and/or financial assistance provided by the Capability Enhancement Program, contact:

Contact:

Department of Environmental Protection
Bureau of Safe Drinking Water
RCSOB, P.O. Box 8467
Harrisburg, PA 17105

Capability Enhancement Program
NE, SE, NC Regions 570-826-2293
SC, NW, & SW Regions 814-472-1923

Send e-mail requests to:
Ra-capabilityenhance@pa.gov

Background

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is authorized to fund and support small drinking water systems under the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments, regarding Capacity Development. This program is available to those small drinking water systems serving 10,000 or fewer people. See the section on “Eligibility“. Renamed “Capability Enhancement” (CE), in PA, the program helps small drinking water systems operate more effectively and efficiently by improving the technical, the managerial, and the financial capability of the water system.

The CE program provides a mechanism to address the needs of small drinking water systems by evaluating the system’s current needs, and then developing an assistance plan to meet those needs. The CE program provides facilitation between all of the parties needed to implement the assistance plan. In Pennsylvania, the Capability Enhancement Program is administered by the Bureau of Safe Drinking Water in the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The Division of Training, Technical, and Financial Services delivers this on-site assistance through facilitators in conjunction with peer water operators employed by the Department. These assistance providers are actual practicing operators and administrators in local systems.

Governor’s Report of Capability Enhancement Program (PDF)
Outlines Pennsylvania’s program for evaluating and assisting Pennsylvania’s public drinking water systems in achieving and enhancing their technical, managerial, and financial capability.

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