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Renovations, repairs, and replacement of water and wastewater utility infrastructure can be very expensive. Many small towns and communities face with the challenges of deciding whether or not they can afford investments in their water utility. The WSU Environmental Finance Center recognizes this and developed the Community Sustainability Tool to help with these decisions. The Tool is free and easy to use. The Tool is currently available for communities in the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. It is also being developed for communities in Oklahoma and Louisiana.

After I visited the Lawrence Water and Wastewater facilities on a school field trip my senior year, I applied to be an intern for the summer between my senior year in high school and my freshman year in college. After an application process and an interview, I started at the Kansas River Wastewater Treatment Plant. On my first day I got all sorts of things thrown at me like a Surface Pro, a new work phone, a badge, keys, a garage door opener, and a vacant office in the administrative area. I completed the regular safety training videos (in my own office!) and signed documents for the first week while being introduced to lab techs and going on small tours of the different areas of the plant.

WSU Environmental Finance Center's Community Sustainability Tool is a user-friendly planning resource that helps municipalities, states and other organizations assess if their community's water/wastewater rates can potentially support infrastructure investment. The tool is currently available for communities in Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri.

Do you want to leave a legacy that will benefit your community for decades to come? For most of us, the answer is, “Yes!” And, like most of us, you may not have an idea on how you are going to do that. If you are stumped, here is a possibility. Use the Small Community Assistance Planning Asset Management Tool (SCAP) to develop a basic asset management plan for your community’s drinking water or wastewater utility. The SCAP tool is a free, easy to use Excel-based asset management program developed by Eastern Research Group (ERG) through funding provided by EPA. With the SCAP tool and a few hours of your time, you can leave your community a legacy that it can build from for decades to come.

Did you know Kansas and the Midwest is not unique to having hazardous algae blooms (HABs)? HABs are a global phenomenon that occur in both fresh and salt water. They can occur at any time, even when lakes and water bodies are frozen over! They come in different types. In saltwater environments, the most common type is red tide. The type of most concern and most common in fresh water is blue-green algae bloom. Blue-green algae blooms have been reported in almost all 50 states, including all the way north to Alaska and south to Florida.

Through a series of grant contracts, the WSU EFC has significant capacity to provide technical assistance to small water and wastewater utilities nationwide.

Quincalee Brown, former executive director of the Water Environment Federation (Federation) and a champion of women’s rights and water quality, was inducted into the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame at Wichita State University on October 22, 2021. Ms. Brown served as the executive director of the Federation from 1986 to 2001, one of the most important time periods in the association’s history. Ms. Brown was at the helm of the Federation as it expanded its focus and changed its name from the Water Pollution Control Federation to its current Water Environment Federation. She also led its relocation within the Washington DC area to the current location in Alexandria, Virginia.

Through the completion of the City of Wichita Sustainability Initiatives Study, the Environmental Finance Center (EFC) identified a path toward a more sustainable future for the City of Wichita, Kansas. The report identifies 15 sustainability bundles that include targets, policies, partnerships and programs and projects that could be implemented over the next 1-3 years at an estimated cost of $1.72 - $1.95 million dollars.

The Iowa City treatment plan inundated by flood waters in 2008.

In the ever-evolving lexicons of environmental sustainability and climate change, “resilience” has surfaced as an important concept for community planning and development. In general, the term resilience refers to the ability to adapt or bounce back from adversity. From a climate perspective, resilience encompasses a community’s ability and capacity to anticipate, prepare for and respond to hazards associated with climate change, in particular extreme weather events like flooding or long-term trends like drought and high temperatures.

The WSU EFC just wrapped up its lead in drinking water testing project with tribal schools and childcare facilities in Kansas and Nebraska. Thanks to funding and guidance from EPA Region 7, the EFC offered free lead testing for any tribal school and childcare facility in our region. The project was complicated by the virus and all the disruptions it has created for the daily operations of schools and childcare facilities. Despite these challenges the drinking water at two tribal schools and four childcare facilities were completed.