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Water: Optimization

Basic Information about the Area-Wide Optimization Program (AWOP)


The Technical Support Center, within the Standards and Risk Management Division in the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, began its work in drinking water optimization in 1989. Initial efforts were to develop an evaluation approach (Comprehensive Performance Evaluation, or CPE) and technical assistance approaches to help public water systems (PWS) comply with the Surface Water Treatment Rule. Soon after, the Center established optimization performance goals (which go beyond the regulatory requirements and provide an increased level of public health protection). It was repeatedly demonstrated that water systems could achieve these performance goals using their existing facilities and enhanced operational control. After several years of working with individual states and water systems, the Center developed the Area-Wide Optimization Program (AWOP) to facilitate working with a group of states in a given area (or EPA Region). The original program focused on treatment plant turbidity optimization, but has expanded to include optimization to reduce disinfection by-products (DBPs) in the treatment plant and distribution system, and improve microbial control in groundwater systems.

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About AWOP

EPA designed AWOP to enhance public health protection through optimizing the performance and operations of existing facilities. State drinking water agencies implement AWOP with support from EPA.

AWOP is a cost-effective approach to:

  • Increasing public health protection
  • Proactively achieving regulatory compliance
  • Improving treatment plant performance
  • Maintaining distribution system water quality

The success of AWOP is attributed to three key components:

  • Status - Enhanced surveillance of PWS performance, which helps states determine the relative need of their systems (based on water quality and anticipated public health risk) and target their compliance assistance efforts to those most in need.
  • Targeted Performance Improvement - Targeting activities for improving drinking water quality to “optimum” levels that exceed regulatory requirements; this training supports transfer of water treatment skills to water system operators and sustained improvements in drinking water quality.
  • Maintenance - Ongoing improvement of AWOP activities to sustain and enhance the program through collaboration with partner states in the AWOP network and integration of optimization approaches into other state drinking water programs.

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There are multiple benefits of participating in AWOP, including improved water quality performance, effective compliance assistance approaches, enhanced capabilities of state staff, and enhancement of other state programs.

For more details visit the AWOP Benefits page.

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Becoming Involved

States and/or Regions may participate in AWOP. For more information about participating contact:

Rick Lieberman

View current participating states/regions on the AWOP Participants page.

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