Appalachian Community Technical Assistant and Training (ACTAT) Program

Grants and Contracts Details

Description

University of Kentucky Statement of Work 12/05/2021 Appalachian Community Technical Assistance and Training (ACTAT) Program The University of Kentucky Department of Civil Engineering statement of work addresses five different tasks, which are summarized below. Specific deliverables addressed by these tasks include the following: 1. A list of priority utilities. 2. Workforce development assessment for Kentucky. 3. High school module for promoting job opportunities in the water field. 4. A technical support training module. 5. One online training for at least six utilities in Kentucky, West Virginia, or Tennessee, that will focus on the developed training module. 6. Utility specific in-person trainings for at least two utilities with a focus on one of the different KWRRI training modules designed to address one of the ten basic utility management areas. 7. Utility focused technical assistance to at least 2 communities in Kentucky. 8. A list of state partnerships. 9. Participation in regional symposium involving KY, WV, and TN. 10. Presentation about KY-ACTAT at a regional or national conference 11. Four quarterly progress reports and one final project report. Task 1: Review System Needs and Technical Assistance Needs. Over the last five years, the University of Kentucky has worked with relevant agencies in Kentucky to identify and recruit water utility representatives from the Appalachian Region in need of assistance. As a result, staff from over 60 water utilities have attended the Phase I Regional Workshop-In-A Box (WIB) trainings that focused on ten critical utility management areas. As an outcome from these workshops, the top priority needs of each utility were identified. Project personnel will continue to communicate with appropriate state agencies and other service providers to identify utilities in need of immediate assistance to address water and wastewater issues. Project personnel will also continue communications with the Kentucky Division of Water, the Kentucky Division of Compliance Assistance, the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority, the Kentucky Public Service Commission, the Kentucky Rural Community Assistance Program and the Kentucky Rural Water Association. Utilities identified through partner referral will be documented in quarterly reports. After consultation and review of feedback and interest indicated in prior trainings, project personnel will review and prioritize utilities for subsequent regional customized training courses (Phase 1 trainings), utility focused on-site training workshops (Phase 2 trainings), and/or hands-on technical assistance (Phase 3 assistance). Project personnel have compared the service maps of the prioritized utilities in Appalachia to identify utilities that serve, or are planning to expand service to, rural communities in Opportunity Zones. We will direct training and technical assistance to such utilities in need of assistance with priority to communities with less than 5,000 customers and with a focus on those with less than 2,500 customers. ACTAT partners will continue to work with each utility to monitor their progress through each training and assistance phase by implementing the following tasks: Task 1.1 – Manage and update the previously developed online tool designed to assess community/utility progress in implementing the goals and objectives identified to address drinking water and/or wastewater services and document additional needs during re-evaluation efforts. Task 1.2 – Evaluate and assess the utility’s receptivity for additional utility-specific training and/or technical assistance while progressing towards and maintaining viable and sustainable water services. Task 2: Promote Workforce Development Needs. One portion of the proposed online tool is an assessment of workforce development needs. During this year, project personnel will promote the results of the previous year’s assessment to relevant stakeholders. We will review existing training programs, identify gaps in curriculum based on operator requests, and identify potential modules that need to be developed. Task 2:1 – Establish written procedures to communicate and translate the workforce development needs identified through our online tool and one-on-one interactions to responsible state agencies. Task 2:2 – Coordinate with state certification boards and other service providers to identify, develop, and deliver supplemental training materials in support of operator certification and continuing education requirements. Task 3: Pilot Utility Internship In support of water and wastewater utility workforce development needs of Kentucky, project personnel will identify at least one interested high school science teacher to serve as a partner in the development of a teaching module to focus on career opportunities in the water/wastewater field. This effort will also be supported by a summer intern who will work with the teacher to develop the teaching module which will include a set of possible bench or field experiments. If funded, the developed module will then be implemented in the following project year. Task 4: Phase 1: Module Development. Based on the priority areas and technical needs identified in Task 1, project personnel will develop a customized training module designed to provide utility staff with tools and technical assistance to improve the management, operations, and maintenance of their utility. The module will address identified needs associated with one of the ten key management areas, such as stakeholder engagement, infrastructure stability, and asset management. The module and associated resources will then be shared across programs and state boundaries as well as the larger national audience. The latter will be facilitated by presentations at regional and national water utility related conferences. Relevant training and technical assistance materials will also be provided to West Virginia University’s National Environmental Services Center (NESC) for posting on their website. It is anticipated that the partnerships developed from the production of these modules will not only allow for the development and sharing of resources between states, but also potentially impact emerging state policies that directly relate to each of these management areas. Task 5: Phase 1 Regional Module Trainings. Once the new training module is developed, it will be deployed to at least two water utilities per state through an online virtual training platform in order to allow participation from multiple utilities from across eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, and eastern Tennessee. Task 6: Phase 2 Utility-Specific Training. Based on results from the needs assessment from Task 1, project personnel will recruit a minimum of two additional utilities to follow up with a Phase 2 utility-specific training. Trainings will focus on specific utility needs identified in Task 1 by presenting previous modules developed by ACTAT partners to address technical, operational, or managerial gaps. Project personnel will then continue to work with the Phase 2 utilities to identify available resources for use in supporting the implementation of their action plan through hands-on Phase 3 activities. Anticipated Phase 3 activities will include network modeling workshops for Hyden-Leslie County and the Reid Village Water District. Task 7: Phase 3 One-on-One Community/Utility Focused Assistance. Using the pool of past participants of Phase 2 utility-specific trainings, project personnel will recruit at least two additional utilities to follow up with Phase 3 technical assistance. This customized assistance will help each utility implement specific goals identified and refined during previous trainings. Phase 3 assistance is intended to provide in-depth technical assistance to utilities with an established ACTAT relationship. Anticipated Phase 3 activities in Fiscal Year 2023 include the continued development of a distribution model for the Big Sandy Water District, the Whitesburg Municipal Water Works, the Martin County Water District, and the West Liberty Water Works. As in the past, we will seek to be responsive to the ever-changing community needs as identified by our online assessment tool; thus, it is possible that our focus may shift in response to such needs. Task 8: Regional Symposium Project personnel will assist in planning a regional symposium that will focus on the activities and lessons learned from the ACTAT program. It is anticipated that the symposium will be attended by project personnel, participating utilities, and associated stakeholder and service providers. Task 9: Facilitate Partnerships, Funding Opportunities to Sustain Community Growth. In order to build on the past successes of the ACTAT program and sustain such progress beyond the resources of the current program, it is important that steps be taken to leverage and sustain such efforts into the future. This goal will be pursued through the following tasks: Task 9.1 – Develop formal partnerships with state agencies in Kentucky to provide greater access to funding opportunities to sustain infrastructure development. Kentucky agencies may include the Kentucky Division of Water, the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority, the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet, the Kentucky Department of Local Government, the Kentucky League of Cities, the Kentucky Association of Counties, and the Kentucky Area Development Districts. Task 9.2 – Strengthen existing partnerships with other service providers in Kentucky to provide greater access to technical and financial services in support of sustainable infrastructure development. To date, partners with each state have coordinated their training efforts with other service-providing entities across the region. In some cases, existing partnerships have facilitated contacts and relationships between individual utilities and service providers to address utility specific managerial, technical and operational, and financial needs. Partnerships and related activities will be formalized and expanded during this contract year. Task 10: Leverage ACTAT Lessons Learned and Tools to a Larger National Audience. The ACTAT program has been highly success in supporting struggling water facilities in the Appalachian region. It is hypothesized that many of our successes and lessons learned from our program will benefit and support other regions as well. Project personnel will continue to promote lessons learned through community/utility-focused ACTAT activities to other states through one or more of the following strategies: pursue personal communications with colleagues within our respective institutions, other land grant institutions, and service providing organizations; participate in national forums or conferences; and publish or present articles at national and regional conferences and in relevant, nationally circulated publications. Task 11: Project Logistics/Monitoring/Reporting/Advisory Committee Meetings. Project personnel will provide outreach to Kentucky specific stakeholders to solicit participation by systems in need of training and technical assistance. We will monitor project and Kentucky participant progress throughout the project period to ensure milestones are being met and participants are making progress. We will also provide quarterly updates to West Virginia University (WVU) for inclusion in quarterly reports to the funding agency. Finally, we will participate in quarterly conference calls with the advisory committee.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date10/1/222/28/24

Funding

  • West Virginia University: $185,500.00

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