Water System Capacity Development

Water System Capacity

We define water system capacity as the system's technical, managerial, and financial capability to achieve and maintain compliance with all relevant local, state, and federal plans and regulations. In other words, the system has the knowledge, tools, and resources to ensure it can provide safe and reliable drinking water now and into the future.

What is Water System Capacity? 331-283 (PDF)

Benefits for Systems that Achieve High Levels of Capacity

All water systems, regardless of size or other characteristics, can benefit from a program of continuous improvement that includes self-assessment, strategic planning, and monitoring for accountability and performance. Doing so allows a system to:

  • Save costs associated with minimizing liability, prolonging the useful life of infrastructure, and running the system efficiently.
  • Protect public health by ensuring consistent compliance with drinking water standards, including federal and state regulations and other applicable standards of performance.
  • Provide service to their existing customers and serve new customers in the future.
  • Request funds from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) loan program.
  • Enhance performance beyond compliance through measures that bring about efficiency, effectiveness, and service excellence.

What Water System Capacity Looks Like

Technical Capacity

Source Water Adequacy

  • The system's source is adequate to meet current demands and anticipated growth, meets all applicable water quality standards, and is appropriately sampled and protected.

System Operations

  • The system has a certified operator who:
    • Understands the benefits of public health protection.
    • Knows the applicable drinking water standards.
    • Understands the system's technical and operation characteristics.
  • Successfully implements the system's operation and maintenance plan.

Infrastructure Adequacy

  • The system can reliably produce and deliver an adequate supply of water that meets all drinking water standards. This is because its infrastructure, from source through distribution, is in good condition, and hasn't exceeded its useful life.

Managerial Capacity

Ownership Accountability

  • Responsibilities of the governing board and operator/manager are clearly identified and communicated to prevent confusion and mistakes in the daily operation of the system.

Planning and Performance Measurement

  • The governing board develops and periodically revisits strategic plans, including source water protection, water rights, emergency preparedness, future growth demands, finances and asset management (including short and long-term capital investment), and service policies.
  • The governing board identifies and implements accountability and performance measures.

Staff Knowledge and Training

  • System personnel have adequate knowledge to manage operations, understand applicable regulatory requirements, and have the necessary licenses and certifications.
  • Owners, managers, and operators receive ongoing training to stay current on regulatory requirements and best practices.

Effective External Linkages

  • System personnel interact regularly with their customers and regulatory agencies.
  • System personnel build relationships with their customers, technical assistance providers, and regulatory agencies to increase their ability to solve problems quickly.

Financial Capacity

Revenue Sufficiency

  • Rates and other water system charges cover the full cost of service.
  • System personnel know and can measure all costs and revenues.
  • Reserves or savings are available for unexpected expenses.

Fiscal Management

  • System personnel keep adequate books and records, use appropriate budgeting, accounting, and financial planning methods, and manage revenues effectively.

Credit Worthiness

  • The system has an established credit rating to allow personnel to access funds for an emergency or for implementation of a capital improvement plan.
  • System personnel can access capital for the system through public or private sources.

Click for printer-friendly format 331-283 (PDF)

Related Information


2017-2019 Water System Capacity Development Report 331-653 (PDF)

2020 Water System Capacity Development Report (PDF 592KB)

2021 Water System Capacity Development Report (PDF 583KB)

2022 Water System Capacity Development Report 331-733 (PDF 793KB)

2020-2023 Triennial Water System Capacity Development Report to the Governor 331-728 (PDF 140MB)

For More Information

Mike Means, Capacity Development and Policy Manager, 360-269-3178.