Small Community Toolbox

NCRP Toolbox Navigation

NCRP Toolbox Main Cycle Step 1 Cycle Step 2 Cycle Step 3 Cycle Step 4 Cycle Step 5 Cycle Step 6
Click on the Utility Management Cycle Steps for more information
Small communities that provide water and/or wastewater services invariably have needs to maintain, replace, or upgrade their infrastructure to serve the public. The Small Community Toolbox provides resources and references that allow small communities to approach the management of local water and wastewater infrastructure in a systematic fashion. The Toolbox is not a substitute for professional assistance with operations, management, engineering and legal issues. Rather it is intended to help small utilities develop a “first order” understanding of what their options are, how they should begin to budget, and how to get help.

Managing a water and wastewater utility can be approached using the concept of the Utility Management Cycle which is broken down into the six steps described in the summary table below.

Cycle Steps Summary Table

Small Community Toolbox Summary Table

Cycle Step 1
Toolbox Elements
PLAN FOR SUCCESS
General Planning Resources Resources to connect utilities with general planning and training resources to support all components of utility management
Governance Summaries An overview of options, benefits, and steps required to form various types of service entities.
GIS Maps Census, legislative, and other public data to help agencies access information needed for applications.
Cycle Step 2
Toolbox Elements
NEEDS IDENTIFICATION
Technology Overviews Overviews of common issues, technologies, and evaluation factors to help select alternatives.
General Cost Estimating Strategies Cost estimating charts to help develop order of magnitude estimates for various types and sizes of infrastructure to begin scoping overall funding strategies.
Cycle Step 3
Toolbox Elements
FINANCE STRATEGIES
Funding Program Summaries
A one-stop information shop about funding programs suited to small community infrastructure projects.
Capital Recovery Tables Lookup tables to translate the portion of total project costs not paid by grant into annual debt service requirements met through a revenue mechanism.
Capital Improvement Financing Summaries Summary of strategy options for generating revenue to pay the annual debt service associated with capital improvement.
Cash Flow Considerations Assists entities in understanding the funds needed to move a project through planning, design, and construction.
Cycle Step 4
Toolbox Elements
PROJECT PLANNING
Consolidated Preliminary Engineering
Report  Template
Consolidated report outline, with model tables that will meet the needs of commonly used funding programs.
CEQA/NEPA
Exemptions and
Checklists
Summary of CEQA/NEPA exemptions and checklists to aid in meeting State and Federal environmental requirements and funding program requirements.
Common Permit Triggers Summary of typical permits and what project components trigger them.
Cycle Step 5
Toolbox Elements
PROJECT DESIGN
Guidance for Hiring Professionals As a project moves from initial planning towards implementation, detailed, community-specific designs are required and communities will need to retain professional support.
Public Bidding Process Overview Understanding how the public bidding process works, how to set up a successful project bid, and how the low bid contractor is selected.
Cycle Step 6
Toolbox Elements
OPERATIONS
Technical, Managerial, and Financial Resources Tools to help agencies be organized and managed to improve overall operations and funding competitiveness.
Regulatory Resources Sources to provide information to the utility operator on various federal and state regulations.
Rate Setting Guidelines Linking the costs of projects to the need for rate increases and methods to set and change rates.
Capital Improvement Planning Resources Part of the on-going Utility Management Cycle of planning for future system improvements.

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Small Community Toolbox