Capacity Development Program
One of the focuses of the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) Amendments is to ensure that public water systems have the ability to provide safe drinking water to the public. The Amendments seek to prevent compliance problems and associated health risks by ensuring that public water systems have the capability to produce safe drinking water now and in the future. To achieve these goals, the Amendments include provisions for several prevention programs – one of which is the capacity development program.
Water system capacity is the ability to plan for, achieve, and maintain compliance with all applicable drinking water standards. There are three components to capacity: technical, managerial, and financial. Technical capacity refers to a water system's ability to operate and maintain its infrastructure. Managerial capacity refers to the expertise of the water system's personnel to administer the system's overall operations. Financial capacity refers to the financial resources and fiscal management that support the cost of operating the water system. Adequate capability in all three areas is necessary for the successful operation of a public water system.
Capacity development is the process by which water systems acquire, maintain, and build upon their technical, managerial, and financial capabilities to enable them to consistently provide safe drinking water to their customers in a reliable and cost-effective manner. As written in the SDWA, the capacity development program provides a framework for state agencies, local governments, stakeholder groups or organizations, water systems and the public to work toward ensuring that drinking water systems acquire and maintain the technical, managerial and financial capacity needed to achieve public health objectives (i.e. compliance with applicable State and Federal drinking water regulations).
Capacity Development Program Provisions
The 1996 SDWA Amendments include several capacity development provisions under which new and existing water systems are to be evaluated for their technical, managerial, and financial capabilities and through which existing water systems can acquire, maintain, and build upon their technical, managerial, and financial capabilities.
New Systems Provision
All new community water systems and all new nontransient, noncommunity water systems that begin operations after October 1, 1999 must demonstrate to the State that they have the technical, managerial, and financial capacity to comply with all applicable State and Federal drinking water regulations. After reviewing the proposed system's technical, managerial, and financial submissions, New York will determine whether the proposed new system has adequate capacity. If the State determines that the proposed new system has adequate capacity, then system development can proceed. If the State determines that the proposed new system lacks adequate capacity, then system development will not be allowed to proceed until the noted deficiencies are corrected.
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) Provision
Under this provision, New York is prohibited from providing DWSRF assistance to a public water system that lacks the technical, managerial, and financial capability to ensure compliance with the SDWA or that is in significant noncompliance with applicable State and Federal drinking water regulations. However, New York can provide DWSRF assistance to such a public water system if the use of the assistance will assure compliance, or if the owner or operator of the system agrees to undertake feasible and appropriate changes to acquire and maintain the system's technical, managerial, and financial capabilities over the long term. Each DWSRF applicant must demonstrate that its water system possesses adequate technical, managerial, and financial capacity prior to receiving DWSRF assistance from New York State. The State's review criteria are detailed in each year's Intended Use Plan issued under the DWSRF program.
Existing Systems Provision
New York State has developed a plan to help all existing public water systems acquire and maintain technical, managerial, and financial capacity. The capacity development strategy as this plan is called, identifies and prioritizes the public water systems most in need of improving their technical, managerial, and financial capabilities; establishes a capacity baseline and measure of improvements in capacity for each public water system; and shows how the State and the State's partners will assist public water systems in need. A stakeholder group made up of representatives from Federal, State, and local governments; the water industry; technical assistance providers; and public health, educational, and financial organizations considered the SDWA strategy requirements and made their recommendations to the Department of Health (DOH). Based on the stakeholder recommendations, the DOH prepared a capacity development strategy report that was approved by EPA on September 29, 2000. Implementation of a comprehensive capacity development strategy began on October 1, 2000. Since then, the DOH and its partners have assisted many public water systems in need and, together, we are making progress toward improving the technical, managerial, and financial capabilities of public water systems in New York.
For More Information
If you have any questions or would like additional information and details about the capacity development program, please contact:Center for Environmental Health
Bureau of Water Supply Protection
Empire State Plaza-Corning Tower, Room 1110
Albany, New York 12237