New Research Prioritizes 10 Lessons Learned from Rural Water and Wastewater Partnerships

In March 2020, RCAP released a new report, “Resiliency Through Water and Wastewater System Partnerships: 10 Lessons from Community Leaders,” which looks at community utility partnerships from a rural and tribal perspective. As small communities across the country seek solutions for common economic, operational and compliance challenges, this research highlights the experiences of those who chose water and/or wastewater system partnerships as a solution. Some systems are collaborating to build capacity and become more resilient, enabling them to successfully sustain their systems not only financially, but technically and managerially, for years to come. The report highlights 10 lessons from community leaders who undertook and facilitated regional collaboration, also called regionalization, projects – the successes they saw, the challenges they overcame, and the difficult questions they faced throughout the process. This research highlights:

  • How two systems – one with excess capacity and one without enough capacity – partnered to combine drinking water treatment efforts after a voter mandate.
  • How a tribe and regional council of governments brought resources to bear for two communities to form a regional entity with the help of external facilitation.
  • How leaders went out of their way to ensure all communities were involved in governing the new entity because they believed it was important for success and fairness.
  • How communities built trust that is crucial to effective regional collaboration projects and more.

RCAP unveiled this research with more than 70 community and partner participants on March 11 in State College, Penn., at its second Regional Collaboration Summit, hosted in conjunction with RCAP Solutions, the Northeast RCAP. Partnerships highlighted in this research fall along a wide spectrum of regionalization options – ranging from informal collaboration to restructured utility ownership and governance. Click on the pictures below for the full report, the executive summary, and a one-page summary of the research.

With the growing national concern about Coronavirus (COVID-19), we wanted to confirm rural communities’ health and safety are of utmost importance. Each of our organizations are taking the steps necessary to ensure that our employees and those we assist can continue to do their jobs and stay healthy. We are offering these lessons learned on collaboration for future opportunities, and recommend all communities follow CDC guidelines during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Full Report

Executive Summary

One Pager