Tribal Drinking Water ProgramTrainings | Operator Certification
Since 1992, the New Mexico Environmental Finance Center (NM EFC) has been dedicated to helping state, local and Tribal governments meet environmental infrastructure needs and regulatory compliance through capacity-building to enhance technical, managerial and financial capabilities. We assist Tribes within EPA Region 6 in moving towards sustainability by offering technical assistance, training and public outreach. EPA Region 6 includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
The NM EFC assists Tribal water systems in providing safe drinking water by promoting the use of the Multiple Barrier Approach (MBA). This approach strives to maximize the capabilities of each of the three barriers – source, treatment and distribution – to prevent contamination from entering the system or reaching customers.
The EFC offers the following services to the New Mexico Tribal Drinking Water Utilities through a grant from EPA - Region 6
Compliance Support & Technical Assistance
• Coordination of sample collection required under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)
• Assistance with SDWA compliance and the implementation of new drinking water regulations
• Operations & Maintenance support and troubleshooting
• Assistance with Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs)
A sanitary survey is an onsite review of the following 8 elements for the purpose of evaluating the utility’s ability to produce and distribute safe drinking water:
3. Distribution System
4. Finished Water Storage
5. Pumps, Pump Facilities and Controls
6. Monitoring, Reporting, and Data Verification
7. System Management and Operation
8. Operator Compliance with EPA Requirement
The NM EFC conducts sanitary surveys at Tribal water systems as directed by EPA Region 6, and can provide assistance with follow-up activities related to significant deficiencies identified during the survey.
In general, surveys are conducted every 3 years for Community water systems and every 5 years for Non-Community water systems.
• Utility ordinance and by-laws
• Rate studies and budgets
• Asset Management training & assistance
Public Outreach and Education
• Assistance in developing educational materials
• Participation in environmental, health and water fairs
Voluntary Plan Review
The NM EFC offers a voluntary plan review service for new or upgraded Tribal water system prior to construction. This is an independent review of the construction plans from an operational perspective.
Tribal Operator Resource Room
This room provides access to computers, DVDs, CDs, study aides and reference materials to assist operators in preparing for the water operator certification exam. It is available during business hours.
Water Operator Training
The NM EFC provides training on a variety of water system related topics.
Training may be conducted one-on-one, or in small or large group settings. Our training curriculum is well established, yet flexible enough to incorporate the specific needs of EPA and/or the students. We believe that training should be designed to reach diverse populations with varying levels of experience and should encourage participation. In order to succeed with this design philosophy, we use a variety of techniques in providing instruction, including lectures that incorporate multimedia presentations, hands-on training in a “laboratory or experimental” environment, group discussions, student-centered learning activities, and rewards for participation. Field exercises are incorporated when appropriate. Furthermore, a computer based student response system is used to engage students and provides immediate feedback to students and trainers.
The instructors at the NM EFC have over 20 years of experience in the field and classroom settings, allowing them to relate to and understand the questions presented by students. First and foremost, the NM EFC understands that the classroom is filled with professional adults who are attending the training with a desire to learn and improve their skills. We strive to use the time allotted to teach at all levels using strategies that reach both verbal and visual learners, and address both basic and advanced concepts. Finally, questions and discussion are encouraged throughout the day. The classroom setting is relaxed, friendly, and always professional.
All classes are approved for training credits, as appropriate, and designed to increase operator competency, as well as to increase compliance and knowledge for certification. All participants are provided with an attendance certificate indicating the number of training credits earned.
Following are descriptions of some of our regular workshops:
SDWA Regulations: This training is designed to assist managers and operators in understanding and complying with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Topics include: Total Coliform Rule, Chemical and Radionuclides Rules, Surface Water Treatment Rules, Disinfection Byproducts Rules, Ground Water Rule, Lead & Copper Rule, Public Notification Rule, and Consumer Confidence Reports. The training provides an overview of each rule, along with specifics regarding when to sample, where to sample, and contaminant specific sampling techniques. This training is updated as EPA promulgates new rules.
Basic Drinking Water Training: The NM EFC developed this training to provide Tribal Utilities an overview of the basic concepts related to drinking water operations. Topics include: SDWA overview & the Public Water Supervision Program, drinking water sources, compliance monitoring, sampling & reporting, Total Coliform Rule, Nitrate/Nitrite, Ground Water Rule, Surface Water Treatment Rules, Public Notification Rule, Consumer Confidence Reports and Operator Certification
How to Comply with the Total Coliform Rule: This full day workshop is intended to provide a better understanding of the requirements of the Total Coliform Rule (TCR) and to assist in achieving compliance. Topics include: TCR basics, monitoring requirements, MCL violations, sampling plans, sampling procedures, and troubleshooting Coliform problems. The training incorporates several hands-on activities to reinforce the specifics of the rule. In addition, the EFC has developed a TCR flow chart to assist operators in determining the actions that are required following the detection of Total Coliform.
Disinfection Workshop: This workshop provides both managers and operators with a better understanding of chlorine disinfection basics and O & M practices. Topics include: chlorine basics, chlorine safety, daily O & M, and chlorine residual monitoring. In addition, chlorine disinfection is discussed as it relates to the Safe Drinking Water Act, sanitary surveys, and operator certification. Interactive skill stations allow students to work with both LMI and Stenner chemical feed pumps and Hach colorimeters.
Protecting Your Drinking Water Using the Multiple Barrier Approach: The NM EFC developed this training to assist Tribal operators and managers in evaluating their water systems using the multiple barrier approach. This training demonstrates how water system components (source, treatment and distribution) can work together to provide protective barriers against waterborne disease. Topics include the 8 elements of a Sanitary Survey, but focus on the Source, Treatment and Distribution barriers. The intent of the training is to demonstrate why particular items noted in a sanitary survey may be a concern (e.g. why vents should be turned down and screened, or why there should be no direct openings into a well). The training combines classroom lectures, pictures, videos, and field exercises to reinforce the concepts and is conducted at a Tribal water system over a period of two days.
Understanding Compliance Monitoring: This workshop is designed to assist managers and individuals responsible for collecting SDWA Chem/Rad and DBP compliance samples at Tribal public water systems. Topics include: Understanding and updating EPA’s PWS Information Fact Sheet, descriptions of each contaminant group, and using the EPA Sampling Schedule to maintain compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. In addition, procedures for collecting compliance samples, and laboratory specific procedures for submitting compliance samples are discussed and demonstrated.
Distribution and Equipment O & M: This workshop assists operators with understanding basic O & M practices related to distribution systems. Topics Include: storage tank components and inspections, piping installation and repairs, flushing, disinfection, cross connection control, valves and hydrants, preventative maintenance schedules, and the benefits of distribution system mapping
Operator Certification Review: This training is designed for operators of Tribal public water systems to prepare for Distribution Levels I & II of the Operator Certification Test. Topics include: Drinking water regulations, equipment O & M, disinfection, water quality basics, and basic water math. In addition, study skills and test taking skills are reviewed.
Asset Management and Rate Setting: This workshop is for communities, utility managers, or anyone involved in planning for, maintaining, and financing assets. Topics include: the components of Asset Management, developing an Asset Management plan, case studies, implementing Asset Management and capital planning. In addition, this training covers the principals of setting water rates, including the need for rates, how to set a rate, full-cost pricing and educating the public on the costs of providing safe water. This training includes hands-on exercises in both asset management and rate setting.
Other Training Topics: In addition to the classes described above, the NM EFC has offered numerous other classes, and routinely develops additional trainings to meet the specific needs of Tribes. We strive to meet training requests that are not being met by other providers or adapt training topics to meet the needs of specific constituents, such as small systems.
For more information, check these related documents:
Hall Labs Chain of Custody (pdf)
Hall Labs Chain of Custody (Excel)
Accurate Labs COC--Invoice to NMEFC (pdf)
Accurate Labs COC--Invoice to Water System (Word)
Accurate Labs COC--Invoice to Water System (pdf)
Accurate Labs COC--Invoice to NMEFC (Word)
Hall Labs Pocket Guide
Accurate Labs Pocket Guide
2012 Tribal Water Operator Calendar
Environmental Finance Advisory Board|
EPA Environmental Finance Program
EPA Region 6 Drinking Water Program
Rocky Mountain Environmental Finance Center