Drinking water systems across the country face unique challenges to provide safe drinking water and operate with often limited resources. Partnerships are a tool to help address those challenges, with options ranging from informal arrangements, such as sharing equipment, to transferring ownership of a system through consolidation. The proximity of systems to potential partners can provide many opportunities for systems to form cooperative agreements, share services, or join together under common management. Additionally, systems with common needs that are geographically separated can enter into partnerships where remote operations, such as billing, or customer services, are shared.
The case studies found on this page help highlight the many potential opportunities for partnerships.
Types of Partnerships
Informal Cooperation: Working with other systems, but without contractual obligation. Examples include sharing equipment, sharing bulk supply purchase, and mutual aid arrangements.
Contractual Assistance: Requires contract, but contract is under system's control. Examples include operation and maintenance (O&M), engineering, and purchasing water.
Joint Power Agency: Creation of a new entity by several systems that continue to exist as independent entities. Examples include shared management and shared operators.
Ownership Transfer: Takeover by existing or newly created entity. Examples include acquisition with physical interconnection and/or satellite management, as well as the creation of a new public entity.
Water System Partnership Case Studies Map
Drinking Water Case Studies Map(1 pg, 33 MB)
How To Use:
This interactive Water Systems Partnership Case Studies Map allows users to select one of the five types of partnerships to see existing water system partnerships case study summaries across the country. There is an "Instructions" button at the top right of the map for users to reference. (Application works best in Internet Explorer Browser)
Additional Information on Drinking Water System Partnership Case Studies
Many of the case studies highlighted above are from EPA publications on partnerships in drinking water systems. The documents below provide more detailed information on those case studies.You may need a PDF reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA’s About PDF page to learn more.
- Gaining Operational and Managerial Efficiencies through Water System Partnerships (PDF)(28 pp, 4 MB)
- System Partnership Solutions to Improve Public Health Protection Volume I (PDF)(12 pp, 793 K)
- System Partnership Solutions to Improve Public Health Protection Volume II (PDF)(10 pp, 208 K)
- Restructuring Small Drinking Water Systems: Options and Case Studies (PDF)(48 pp, 3 MB)