Service Connection

Volume 14, Issue 3
Fall 2006

Contents

Director's Corner

Pandemic Flu on the Horizon?

In Memory of Bob Peterson

Federal Emergency Preparedness Funding Requirements

Field Inspection Team Accomplishments Since Reorganization

CET Transitions

Public Water Supply Protection (Resolve 140)

Required Testing Sheets

Helpful Reminders for Filling out the Designated Operator Form

Total Coliform Bacteria Monitoring

Public Water System Emergency Response Plan Handbook

Operator Update

 


Director's Corner
Nancy Beardsley, Director

Nancy BeardsleyThe Drinking Water Program continues to transition to our new structure as described in the last Service Connection. Our hope is that we will operate more efficiently and provide you with better customer service.

My prevailing program concern continues to be our lack of state matching funds for our Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund. Despite our lack of match, we have just sent out our project solicitation letter for 2007 projects. It is very important that we understand your funding needs. Over the last year we have seen a significant drop in overall system compliance with health based standards rate. This is one way that EPA measures our program performance. Our compliance rate has fallen from the high 80’s to 79%. That drop has raised some red flags. Most of the change is due to the 17 systems that are currently out of compliance with the Stage 1 Disinfectants/Disinfection Byproducts Rule. This will likely be a long term compliance problem because there are no “quick-fix” remedies available. DWSRF funds will certainly be needed next year to help these systems install new treatment, find new sources or otherwise find a way to come back into compliance. We are also in discussions with Region 1 EPA regarding systems that have exceeded filtration avoidance criteria.

Never a dull moment.
Yours for Safe Drinking Water,
Nancy

Back to Top


 

Pandemic Flu on the Horizon?
Bill JohnsonBill Johnson, Capacity Development and Security Coordinator

By now the Bird Flu is an almost common topic in many circles. The avian (bird) flu strain, H5N1, is spreading through Asia into Europe and parts of Africa. There is a possibility that the bird flu will spread to North America through migratory birds.

Currently, the flu is of little threat to humans, but the medical and public health community is concerned that the H5N1 strain could “mutate” or change to become infectious to humans. A human form of the virus may be particularly dangerous because of a lack of immunity or developed vaccines. For these reasons if the virus breaks out worldwide it will likely become a pandemic event.

The State of Maine has developed a plan, and counties are preparing plans that include prevention, caring for the ill and recovering from a wave of illness. Check with your Emergency Management Agency to become part of this planning process or to find out how the plans may impact water systems.

In the event of a pandemic flu what impact will there be on water systems? Staff availability may be affected, delivery of chemicals and supplies may be delayed, and water demand usage may increase.

What efforts can water systems make to prepare for a pandemic flu event?
• Identify the most critical operations of your system - those actions that absolutely must be done to produce water;
• Prepare written standard operating procedures for performing the critical functions;
• Cross-train employees for each others’ jobs - plan for a reduced workforce of at least 50%, or up to 100% for small systems; and
• Develop mutual aid agreements with neighboring systems to provide staff coverage - for those systems that agree to provide aid, make their operators aware of your system’s functions and operations. Formal agreements clearly spelling out expectations in writing are best, but an informal mutual aid agreement is better than nothing.

For more information on pandemic flu, check the links at the Drinking Water Program homepage. Watch for regular updates and attend classes relating to emergency response, pandemic planning and mutual aid topics.

Back to Top


In Memory of Bob Peterson

Bob PetersonBob Peterson dedicated his professional life to protecting the public health of Maine people and visitors. Bob began state service in 1974 in the childhood lead program. In March, 1975, Bob transferred to the Drinking Water Program as an Engineer Technician II, and for 10 years worked with most of the water utilities in those early years of the Safe Drinking Water Act. In 1985 Bob transferred to the Eating & Lodging Program and soon after took over as the head of that program. Bob held that position for 15 years when he came back to the Drinking Water Program in 2000 as the Database Administrator.

Bob was a quiet, humble person who worked tirelessly to perfect our Safe Drinking Water Information System – a formidable task. Bob often took work home, came in on weekends and worked late to insure that our database was ready for all the staff that relied on him to keep things running smoothly. Nationally, Bob was well respected and regarded in his field. Only during his illness did we learn about the many instances when he helped other states create or improve their data systems. Bob was always willing to listen and help with any problem, large or small.

Bob is missed by everyone at the Drinking Water Program and in the Division of Environmental Health. We hope to honor his life by modeling his superior work ethic and kind, good heart.


Back to Top


Federal Emergency Preparedness Funding Requirements
Bill Johnson, Capacity Development and Security Coordinator

Beginning in Federal fiscal year 2007, all public water systems interested in receiving federal emergency preparedness funds must be in compliance with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) requirements. Public water systems are eligible for emergency preparedness funds to make physical security improvements to their system facilities. This grant money is available through the Maine Emergency Management Agency.

Organizations that wish to apply for this Federal grant money must have their staff trained to the national Incident Command System (ICS) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS). This means that at a minimum, employees must be certified at the ICS 100, 200 and/or 700 level depending on their position. General information on the requirements is available at: http://www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/ and www.fema.gov/emergency/nims/nims_training.shtm.

ICS and the NIMS are organized ways of handling emergency response incidents. These standardized responses allow multiple responder agencies and personnel to work together effectively to handle emergency incidents. Since water system personnel may be involved in such emergencies, training in and awareness of ICS and NIMS is critical.

Back to Top


Field Inspection Team Accomplishments Since Reorganization
Nate SaundersNate Saunders, Field Inspection Team Leader

In February, two staff covering New Well Approval (NWA) and six staff covering Field Services were combined into one group called the Field Inspection Team (FIT). The intent was for all eight FIT staff to cover both functions for the Public Water Systems (PWS) in their districts. One anticipated benefits was a better coverage of both functions for all PWSs.

The challenge has been to cross-train staff while keeping both functions in full operation. This has been a formidible juggling feat! With great initiative from the staff, healthy progress has been made! Below are some progress bullets. Our intent is to continue cross-training efforts, and over time we will have eight Field inspectors with both NWA and PWS inspection skills resulting in highly skilled staff able to even better serve Maine’s Public Water System community.

  • FIT trained on NWA by senior DWP staff David Braley.
  • Previous NWA staff attended four-day formal EPA Sanitary Survey Training and cross-trained with peers. Now completed a number of Sanitary Surveys independently.
  • FIT and the Compliance and Enforcement Team (CET) have worked diligently to redevelop the NWA process, defining new, combined roles for FIT and CET.
  • All six previous Field Staff are engaged with New Well Approvals in their districts, some that are quite complex.
  • Progress has been made by all FIT members on entering information into SDWIS, the primary software tool for the Drinking Water Program.
  • Cooperation fostering new FIT-CET-PWS relationships are now becoming a reality: one FIT staff and one CET staff for each PWS covering all issues.

Back to Top


CET Transitions
Carlton GardnerCarlton Gardner, Compliance and Enforcement Team Leader

The compliance and enforcement sections were combined into one joint Compliance and Enforcement Team (CET). One team member will act as the sole source of compliance information in their assigned geographical area.

The team is made up of nine staff members. Two team members are working with just the 1200+ transient water systems. Four team members will be working with the 800 community (CWS) and non-transient non-community water systems (NTNCWS). The CET Team also includes an Enforcement and Rulemaking Coordinator, one support staff and a team leader. The team has undergone training on writing SOP’s, (Standard Operating Procedures). Each member will be completing an SOP for their area of rule expertise and then conduct a training session for the team members.

On May 1st, Dawn Carpenter and Linda Robinson took over transient water systems (TNCWS) in their new regional areas, also continuing their old duties. CET staff members are training each other in rule enforcement. This process will be on-going throughout the summer and fall. The learning process continues as team members maintain their existing responsibilities.

Back to Top


Public Water Supply Protection (Resolve 140)
Andy TolmanAndy Tolman, Education and Technical Assistance Team Leader

The Maine State Legislature has asked the Drinking Water Program, in cooperation with several state agencies, to conduct a public process to discuss and refine recommendations for continuing to improve the safety of public water supplies. We will host a series of meetings this fall to work through how to implement the recommendations.

The process will produce a plan for implementing recommendations for the Legislature’s Natural Resources Committee to review this coming session. Water supply protection has been identified nationally as a tool that can bring together a number of diverse interests to plan for and implement sustainable land use practices. This is an opportunity to work together to conserve farms and forests, and to guide land use and development to reduce water quality and quantity problems in the future.

To join our process, call 287-6196 or e-mail andrews.l.tolman@maine.gov. Please come and help us realize our vision for the State.

Meeting Schedule

  • Dates: every other Thursday: September 14, 28, October 12, 26 and November 16, if needed
  • Time: 9:00 AM to 12:00N Place: The Senator Inn, Augusta

Conveners

Maine DHHS, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Drinking Water Program; Maine Department of Environmental Protection; Maine Department of Conservation, Geological Survey; Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources

Invitees

Agencies: Department of Conservation, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Department of Transportation, Healthy Maine Communities, Land for Maine’s Future, State Planning Office

Non-Governmental Organizations: Coastal Enterprises, Inc, Congress of Lake Associations, GrowSmart Maine, Maine Aquaculture Association, Maine Association of Realtors, Maine Land Trust Alliance, Maine Farm Bureau, Maine Municipal Association, Maine Forest Products Council, Maine Pulp and Paper Association, Maine Farmland Trust, Maine Water Utilities Association, Maine Rural Water Association, Maine Real Estate & Development Associations, Maine Economic Growth Council, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardiners Association, Maine Oil Dealers Association, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Physicians for Social Responsibility, The Nature Conservancy, York River Watershed: Protecting our Children’s Water

Back to Top


Required Testing Sheets

Every year the Maine Drinking Water Program sends a Required Testing Sheet to water systems outlining required tests for the coming year. Changes to test codes have created some confusion. Please note:

  • Test N test is now called a Test VOC 524 and costs $135.00
  • Trihalomethanes and HAA5 tests are called test HAA_552; $125.00 and THM_542, $80.00
  • TQ1 for Herbicide Screen is now Chlorinated Acids, $200.00
  • Test CP, Pesticide Screen is now PEST_CL_PCBS_508, $75.00
  • TSO semi-volatile organics is now Test SVO-525, $200.00
  • TQ3 is now Carbam_531, $125.00

Back to Top


Helpful Reminders on Filling out the Designated Operator Form
Rebecca ReynoldsRebecca Reynolds, Water Operator Specialist

All surface water, community and non-transient non-community public water systems (PWS) are required to have at least one, and in most circumstances two, Designated Operators (DO) in direct responsible charge. The DO must be “available” to initiate appropriate action in a timely manner. All DO’s must hold a license equal to or higher than the treatment and distribution classifications of the system.

Systems must notify the DWP when a DO is no longer in responsible charge, especially in the case of contract operations and mutual aid agreements. If the required number of DO’s are not available, the system has thirty (30) days to acquire a DO.

The Designated Operator form must be completed by both the owner and the operator and be on file with the DWP to be in compliance. DO forms should be submitted for any person in direct responsible charge of quality or quantity of finished water. This form is available at the DWP web site: www.medwp.com under the downloadable documents section. Please assure forms are correctly signed, operators have the appropriate licenses and the area of responsibility is checked.

The DO Form cannot be used to update sampler or other contact information for the system. Please contact the DWP for other contact information updates. Assistance with forms, finding contract operators or other operator issues is available by contacting Terry, Rebecca or Carol at the Drinking Water Program, 287-2070.

Back to Top


Total Coliform Bacteria Monitoring

Are you a groundwater system serving less than 1,000 people and testing monthly for total coliform? If so, you may be eligible for reduced quarterly monitoring.

Criteria include:

  • consistent and satisfactory total coliform results for six consecutive months;
  • no potential contaminant source within 150 feet; and
  • agreement between the Compliance and Enforcement Team and the Field Team.

Systems on monthly monitoring must receive approval to be reduced to quarterly. Please call your CET team member to start the process.

Back to Top


Public Water System Emergency Response Plan Handbook
Bill Johnson, Capacity Development and Security Coordinator

Last year the Drinking Water Program (DWP) produced a Public Water System Emergency Response Plan Handbook (Handbook) designed to help public water systems assess their vulnerabilities and prepare emergency response plans. The goal is to make the Handbooks available to all public water systems in the state. The DWP partnered with Maine Water Utilities Association and the Maine Rural Water Association (MRWA) to distribute the majority of the Handbooks at training sessions around the state. The training sessions provided familiarization with the Handbook and offered helpful advice regarding security at water systems.

Following the distribution, the DWP mailed a survey to recipients intended to gauge the usefulness of the Handbooks. Most respondents said they had used the book, found the sections useful and may be interested in additional emergency response plan training, vulnerability assessment training, or a site visit for security assessment.

This fall, the DWP intends to print additional Handbooks, including a new EPA publication: Simple Tools for Effective Performance (STEP) Guide Series. The STEP Guide is intended for small systems serving less than 3,300 persons, specifically homeowner associations, mobile home parks or small rural municipal systems. The STEP Guide is available on the EPA website:
http://www.epa.gov/safewater/watersecurity/pubs/very_small_systems_guide.pdf.

Beginning this fall, the DWP will partner again with MRWA to offer Handbook training sessions for CWS and NTNC water systems. Be on the lookout for brochures notifying you of upcoming classes.

Back to Top


Operator Update
Terry TrottTeresa Trott, Operator Licensing/Environmental Review Coordinator

Pre-exam classes for all levels are offered with funding from the EPA Operator Expense Reimbursement Grant through Maine Rural Water Association. The Grant is only funded for two more years, so take advantage of this opportunity soon!

 

Pass Rates for Operator Exams (in % pass)
Exam Type Exam Level
April 2006
June 2006
  VSWS
60
86
Treatment Class I
50
73
Class II
42
0
Class II Direct Entry
50
38
Class III
53
0
Class III Direct Entry
100
100
Class IV
15
17
Class IV Direct Entry
100
100
Distribution Class I
68
89
Class II
50
60
Class II Direct Entry
83
20
Class III
56
75
Class III Direct Entry
Class IV
50
33
Class IV Direct Entry
43
25

 

License renewal information will be mailed in October - Please update your address information if you have moved, had E-911 changes or changed employers.

Back to Top