Operators Know Best: Utilizing Public Water System Operators to Understand Technical, Managerial, and Financial Challenges Facing Community Water Systems in Tennessee

Authors: Kayla Anderson*, Vanderbilt University, Yolanda J McDonald, Vanderbilt University
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: drinking water, community water systems, TMF challenges
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 44
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Despite the United States having some of the safest drinking water in the world, Community Water Systems in the United States currently face and will continue to face numerous challenges. A portion of these challenges are categorized as technical, managerial, and financial (TMF) challenges, which Balazs and Ray (2014) highlight in their Drinking Water Disparities Framework as a community level factor within the built environment. TMF challenges refer to a CWS’s ability to fund, staff, and manage their system and water supply, while adhering to USEPA and state regulations in order to deliver safe drinking water to customers. With aging hard infrastructure (e.g. pipes, equipment, etc.) and soft infrastructure (e.g. workforce), these TMF challenges will only continue to escalate and must be addressed to ensure access to safe drinking water in the United States.

Tennessee mirrors that of national trends, as the TNH2O plan reports that CWSs in Tennessee face numerous TMF challenges. The report explains that these challenges are exasperated through population growth and aging infrastructure. As many CWS face scarce funding and resources, it poses the concern, do CWS have the necessary resources, funding, and training to provide safe drinking water to customers? Through the implementation of a statewide Public Water Operator Survey, this presentation will examine the impact of TMF challenges on CWSs as expressed by public water operators in the state of Tennessee.

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