Decentralized Wastewater (Septic System) Basics for Homeowners in Alabama

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?  Homeowners, Stakeholders and Operators, responsible for the decentralized wastewater system (septic system) serving a residence or group of residences.  This class will cover the basics of decentralized wastewater systems as well as proper operation and maintenance and much more.

Subjects to be addressed in the online class includes the following:

  • What is wastewater, and why do we treat it?
  • What is a septic system, and why is it important?
  • How does a septic system work?
  • Where is the septic system placed and why?
  • Who takes care of the system?
  • How do I know if my system is not working?
  • How much does it all cost?

Speaker:  Alfred Jackson, Communities Unlimited, Environment Management Technician

 


Decentralized Wastewater (Septic System) Basics for Homeowners in Oklahoma

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?  Homeowners, Stakeholders and Operators, responsible for the water well and/or septic system serving a residence or group of residences.  This class will cover the basics of water wells and septic systems as well as proper operation and maintenance and much more

Agenda:

10:00 a.m. - Private Water Well Training for Homeowners

11:00 a.m. - Septic System Operation and Maintenance

Speaker:  Dave Miller, Communities Unlimited, Source Water Coordinator


The Origin of Tenkiller Utility Authority

The Origin of Tenkiller Utility Authority

In 2003, an idea began to take shape to bring safe drinking water to residents near one of Oklahoma’s most popular recreational lakes.

The idea was met with initial enthusiasm by dozens of water systems, but as the years dragged on, only a group of a few water systems determined to make it a reality.

After more than 17 years, USDA-Rural Development announced that Tenkiller Utility Authority was funded along with assistance from the Cherokee Nation and Indian Health Services (IHS). It will be the largest regionalization project in the state of Oklahoma.

It was a long journey for the water systems, the region’s leaders, the Cherokee Nation, government officials, and the nonprofit assisting all of them — Communities Unlimited.

Communities Unlimited began working with the Lake Tenkiller area in 2003 and has been working alongside the communities ever since, pushing forward through the slow, sometimes frustrating, very detailed but ultimately rewarding process of bringing about a new water utility.

Struggling on Their Own

Lake Tenkiller lies in eastern Oklahoma, just west of the Arkansas border. The lake is known as a popular recreation area, drawing outdoor enthusiasts, boaters and fishermen year-round.

Rural communities dot the landscape around Lake Tenkiller. Each community water system carried its own financial burdens. With small populations and few customers, the systems struggled individually. Some systems needed expensive repairs, others needed better water sources, while others struggled to pay other entities for their water.

They needed to combine their resources to assist one another in providing clean, safe drinking water to their customers. A new regionalized system would allow each small utility to have a say in decision-making instead of being at the mercy of water wholesalers who may or may not give them a position on their water board.

They began to talk to one another about creating a regional water utility, and the idea of the Tenkiller Utility Authority was born. The small utilities formed the utility in the early 2000s and began talking about building their own water treatment facility.

It would take nearly 20 years to make that a reality.

Forming a Plan

Communities Unlimited was contacted to facilitate regular meetings and assist with plans to get the project funded. Staff from Communities Unlimited first met with members of the Tenkiller Utility Authority in 2003 after they had formed the new utility.

The original scope was massive. More than 60 systems throughout central Oklahoma from Sallisaw to north of Talequah expressed an interest in joining the regional water project. But such a large number wasn’t feasible for one regional system. Reaching a consensus on the system’s needs would be difficult, and the logistics would be even more so.

With so many entities going back and forth, initial estimates were around $30-40 million. The problem was that money allocated to the state of Oklahoma at that time for such projects was less than half that amount.

After more than a year of negotiating, the number of communities wanting to connect to the new system dropped to 25-30. But the estimated price was still about $20 million. Negotiations continued, and entities revolved in and out, lowering the numbers further.

The utility needed a cohesive plan. In 2007, Ten Killer Utility Authority hired an engineer to determine what the utility would need in a water system and how much it would cost to construct it. With a properly-organized plan, a system could be created to serve all of the smaller systems efficiently and keep costs down for everyone.

By 2008, the system was finally taking shape. But there was still a long way to go.

Getting Water Rights

As negotiations continued between the water systems, adding and subtracting them to the utility over the years, the Tenkiller Utility Authority worked to tackle another major issue — water rights.

The water would have to come from Lake Tenkiller, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which managed the manmade water reservoir, only allows a certain amount of water to be extracted from the lake.

As the utility moved forward, it discovered that most of the water rights for Lake Tenkiller were already taken. In some cases, those water rights were paid for but weren’t being utilized.

For the next decade, the Tenkiller Utility Authority negotiated with several water rights owners to purchase part of their water rights to collect a total that would cover the initial needs of the utility and future needs.

By the end of the negotiations, the core number of entities had dropped to about seven systems that would lead the project. The system is designed and will be constructed with the plan that more systems can connect later. The seven initial systems represent approximately 10,000 customers.

During this time, engineering reports and environmental studies were being conducted for the water system. Both would be necessary to obtain the funding for construction.

The next step was to get the core entities to sign on with the new water utility officially. The agreements had to be signed so the system could apply for funding from USDA-Rural Development, which would provide the bulk of the financing.

Throughout the years, staff from Communities Unlimited visited the entities and potential clients’ monthly meetings to explain the value of having their own water system. Other water systems pushed back against the project, wanting to sell the water themselves. But in many cases, that would happen without the entities being able to make decisions on water rate increases, should they arise. Communities Unlimited explained the pros and cons of the new utility to each entity at council and special meetings over the years.

Once seven entities signed on, they were finally ready to pursue funding for the water system.

In order to receive federal funding for the project, studies were needed on the census tracts of each potential wholesale water purchaser, and Median Household Income (MHI) numbers needed to be calculated for each census tract. It was a massive project that took several months to complete.

A big boost to the Lake Tenkiller project came from the Cherokee Nation. In September 2018, the Cherokee Nation pledged to assist the project with a $93,850 grant to cover predevelopment costs for the Rural Development funding.

The next month brought a huge milestone to the project. After nearly two years, the long-awaited Engineering Report necessary to get the project underway was submitted to the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) for approval. After clarifying a few points brought up by ODEQ, the report was approved and ready to be submitted to USDA-Rural Development as part of the funding application process. From that point on, things began moving quickly, and the project began to snowball toward tangibility.

In March 2019, 16 years from the time Lake Tenkiller Utility Authority was only an idea, the RD Apply process began to obtain the bulk of the funding necessary to construct the new water utility.

Several months later, the Tenkiller Utility Authority received the news they had worked for nearly two decades to hear. USDA-Rural Development announced the project had been awarded a $10.6 million loan and a $4.6 million grant for a total of $15.2 million.

In May 2020, the Cherokee Nation and Indian Health Service (IHS) announced an additional $2.3 million in grants for the project. The funding was the final piece to the puzzle that would give nearly 10,000 Oklahomans access to clean, safe drinking water.

Today, Communities Unlimited continues to work with the Tenkiller Utility Authority on its new water system. Currently, CU staff and Tenkiller Utility Authority are working on completing the requirements in the Letter of Conditions set forth by the USDA-Rural Development loan. Once the paperwork, studies and requirements are complete, construction can begin.

Communities Unlimited will continue to work with the Tenkiller Utility Authority to get the water flowing to their customers.

A special thank you to Bill Hix, Director of Environmental Health & Engineering – Cherokee Nation, and Phill Ross, Communities Unlimited – Oklahoma State Coordinator (Retired) for their contributions to this project.


EPA Small Drinking Water System Operator Training in Mississippi

WHO SHOULD ATTEND? Operators, Managers and other utility staff of small water systems responsible for providing safe drinking water to the residents in the community. This class will focus on planning your operations and maintenance activities.

10:00 - 10:15 am          Introductions, Training Overview & Objectives, Pre-Test

10:15 - 12:00 pm          Operations and Maintenance

12:00 -   1:00 pm          Lunch

1:00 -   3:00 pm          Operations and Maintenance (continued)

3:00 -  3:15 pm         Q & A, Post Test, Evaluations


Louisiana - EPA Drinking Water Operator Training

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?  Operators, Managers, and other utility staff of small water systems responsible for ensuring your system remains in compliance. This class will provide an Overview of Disinfection, DBP Formation and DBP Treatment Strategies. This class is approved by LDH for 4 CE Hours. Course Approval #61718.

 

8:30 am     Introductions, Workshop Overview & Pre-Test

Disinfection Overview

Disinfection By-Products (DBPs)

DBP Treatment Strategies

Q&A, Post Test & Evaluations

12:30 pm    Class Ends

 

Speakers:    Ben Bridges, TMB Water               

                     Chris Brunson, Communities Unlimited, Louisiana State Coordinator 


Alabama RCAP/AWWA Small System Water Operator Training

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?  Operators, Managers and other utility staff of small water systems that are responsible for ensuring your system remains in compliance.   This class will cover Disinfection, DBPs, AWIA and much more.   This class will provide 7.5 CE Hours for water certification renewal upon approval by ADEM.

 8:00 am     SDWA Workshop Introduction & Pre-Test

Disinfection Overview

Disinfection By-Products (DBPs)

Distribution System Infrastructure

12:00 pm    Lunch

1:00 pm    Distribution Water Quality

Large Building (Schools, Hospitals) Water Quality Issues

America's Water Infrastucture Act

4:45 pm    Q&A, Post Test, Evaluations   

Speaker:    Dinah Foreman, Communities Unlimited, Environmental Training Coordinator


AR - RCAP/AWWA Small System Water Operator Training

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?  Operators, Managers and other utility staff of small water systems that are responsible for ensuring your system remains in compliance.   This class will cover Disinfection, DBPs, AWIA and much more.   This workshop is approved by ADH for Continuing Education Hours for Water.

 8:00 am     Introductions, Workshop Overview & Pre-Test

Disinfection Overview

Disinfection By-Products (DBPs)

Distribution System Infrastructure

12:00 pm    Lunch

1:00 pm    Distribution Water Quality

Large Building (Schools, Hospitals) Water Quality Issues

America's Water Infrastucture Act

4:45 pm    Q&A, Post Test, Evaluations   

Speaker:    Dinah Foreman, Communities Unlimited, Environmental Training Coordinator


TN - RCAP/AWWA Workshop: Achieve & Maintain Compliance with the SDWA

Are you a small system in need of operator training?

Here is a virtual webinar offered by Communities Unlimited, Inc., and KY/TN Section AWWA.

A detailed agenda available on the registration page.

Intended for small systems... under 10K connections.

*The class is approved by TDEC for 6 CE Hours in Water DS and Water Treatment.*


AWWA Southwest Section - LA - Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance

This is a small systems workshop hosted by the Southwest Section AWWA and funded through an EPA grant to AWWA.

Lousiana Department of Health and Hospitals approved for 8 Renewal Credit Training Hours for Water Only licenses.

AGENDA

8:30 – 9:00 Registration and Introductions
9:00 – 9:15 SDWA Workshop Overview & Pre-Test - Ben Bridges

9:15 – 10:30 Disinfection Overview - Ben Bridges
10:30 – 10:45 Break

10:45 – 12:00 Disinfection By-Products (DBP’s) - Ben Bridges

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch - Sponsored by Thornton, Musso and Bellemin

1:00 – 2:00 DBP Treatment Strategies - Ben Bridges

2:00 – 3:00 Distribution System Operations: Flushing - Ben Bridges
3:00 – 3:15 Break
3:15 – 4:15 Distribution System Operations: Main Breaks and Cross Connections - Ben Bridges

4:15 – 5:00 Questions, Post Test & Evaluations


EPA Small Drinking Water System Operator Training - Texas

WHO SHOULD ATTEND? Operators, Managers and other utility staff of small water systems that are responsible for providing safe drinking water to the residents in the community. This training will provide information on drinking water regulations and operations.  This class is approved by TCEQ for 4 Hours of Continuing Education.

9:00 - 10:10 am          Sign-in, Introductions, Training Overview & Objectives, Pre-Test

10:10 - 11:30 am          Regulatory Overview:  TCR, RTCR, GW Rule, SW Treatment Rule

11:30 - 12:00 pm          Lunch

12:00 - 12:45 pm          Regulatory Overview:  Stage 2 DBPR, Lead & Copper Rule

12:45 -  1:45 pm         Disinfection Overview:  Cl2, Chloramination, TCR Samples

1:45 -  2:00 pm          Wrap-Up, Q&A, Post Test, Class Evaluation