What is "system capacity"? The term "capacity" refers to the ability of a water system to operate over the long run as a viable enterprise and in compliance with National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. The effectiveness of System Capacity depends upon the interaction of these three criteria:
- Technical Capacity refers to the ability of a system to meet standards and to provide safe and reliable drinking water. Key to technical capacity are operator expertise and infrastructure adequacy (source water adequacy and collection, storage, treatment and distribution facilities).
- Managerial Capacity pertains to the ability of personnel to manage and administer or to otherwise operate the water system. Key items for managerial capacity include ownership, organization, accountability and planning.
- Financial Capacity refers generally to the monetary resources of the water system and includes cost effectiveness, creditworthiness, fiscal control, cash flow and cash reserves.
Why does the Drinking Water Program need to do it? The 1996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act require States to implement strategies to ensure that new public water systems have sufficient technical, managerial and financial resources (referred to as capacity) to be able to meet federally mandated drinking water requirements. The 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act require each State to obtain, by October 1, 1998, the legal authority or other means necessary to ensure that all new community and all new non-transient, non-community water systems (like schools) commencing operation after October 1, 1999, have adequate system capacity. States that fail to obtain the necessary authorities by the specified deadline, will receive only 80% of its State Revolving Loan Fund allocation for FY 1999.
In addition to State authority, each State is also required to develop and implement a Capacity Development Strategy to assist existing water systems in acquiring or enhancing system capacity. States that fail to develop or implement a Capacity Development Strategy, will receive only 90% of its State Revolving Loan Fund allocation for FY 2001, 85% for FY 2002, and 80% thereafter.
Because each capacity element overlaps and consequently supports the others, any weakness or failure of an individual element can lead to the collapse of the others. It is the intent of the Capacity Development Strategy to prevent the creation of nonviable public water systems, to identify systems at risk and to assist system to acquire, enhance and maintain system capacity.
For more information about the Maine DWP Capacity Development program, contact Sara Flanagan at (207) 287-5678.
For Capacity Development information from EPA, visit their web site at the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water.