The Federal Safe Drinking Water Act Amendment of 1996 (SDWA) requires each state to implement a Capacity Development Program to improve the Technical, Managerial and Financial Capacity of the state’s Public Water Systems (PWS) and to prevent the creation of new public water systems that do not have the capacity to comply with current and future provisions of the SDWA. This implementation is required by EPA to avoid withholding from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) grant.
All new community and non-transient non-community PWS must be approved by the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) prior to beginning construction per the Mississippi Safe Drinking Water Act (Section 41-26-8, MS Code of 1972 Annotated). In addition, the Executive Director of the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff must certify that any new PWS has adequate managerial and financial capacities to meet all the SDWA regulations.
With over 1,000 existing PWS in the State, implementation of the Capacity Development Program has two primary components, (1) stringent enforcement of existing laws and regulations and (2) implementation of a capacity assessment rating system and technical assistance program.
Capacity Assessment Rating
The Capacity Assessment Rating Program started with the development of Capacity Assessment Form(s) (CAFs) which consist of three major segments assessing capacities related to (1) Technical, (2) Managerial & (3) Financial areas. An Advisory Committee consisting of representatives from the Mississippi Rural Water Association, the Mississippi Water & Pollution Control Operators’ Association, Communities Unlimited, the Mississippi Development Authority, the Public Service Commission, public sector associations, as well as selected water system managers and operators meet once a year to review the current edition of the Capacity Assessment Form(s) for possible revisions.
The three (3) classifications of CAFs are:
- Standard Form, used for community PWS such as municipalities, county utilities, and water associations,
- Private Form, for PWS that are privately owned, and
- Non-transient, Non-Community form, for PWS that provide water to 25 or more of the same individuals in a non-residential manner on a daily basis, such as schools and industries.
Systems classified as Transient, Non-Community PWS are not evaluated for Capacity Assessment.
PWS with low CAF scores can receive assistance from a variety of sources. One-on-one assistance is provided at no cost the PWS. Other elements of assistance consist of Peer Review, which is voluntary peer to peer interaction.