Talking Under Water Episode 55: Challenges & Trends in Small Systems

Aug. 19, 2022
In this month’s episode, the hosts discuss EPA’s proposal for PFOA and PFOS to be listed as a hazardous substance under CERCLA and share an interview about small systems.

In this month’s episode of Talking Under Water co-hosts Bob Crossen and Katie Johns discuss the movement of EPA’s proposal for PFOA and PFOS to be listed as a hazardous substance under CERCLA and a $132 million investment in the national estuary program. The hosts also share an interview with Glenn Barnes, who is the director of Water Finance Assistance and works with numerous small utilities throughout the United States. Crossen and Barnes talked about the challenges facing small systems, how they are trying to adapt to the new normal, and how workforce concerns are nearing a tipping point. 

Show Notes: 


  • Cold open | 0:00 
  • Host Intros | 0:32 
  • Episode summary | 0:43 
  • OMB finishes review of PFAS CERCLA proposal | 1:12 
  • $132M investment for National Estuary Program | 4:08 
  • Introducing Glenn Barnes | 6:00 
  • Just how many small systems are there in the U.S.? | 6:32 
  • What small utilities are thinking about day to day | 9:11 
  • Small town public workers wear too many hats | 11:38 
  • How small utilities are looking at infrastructure funding | 14:30 
  • Inflation and rising costs hit small utilities hardest | 17:42 
  • Issues at the top of small systems’ minds | 20:13 
  • The future of small systems in the U.S. | 22:18 
  • Interview wrap up | 26:02 
  • Housekeeping | 26:52 


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About the Podcast 

Talking Under Water is the premier podcast for the water industry, including municipal and industrial water and wastewater, residential water treatment, storm water management and erosion control. It is produced in coordination between Water & Wastes Digest (WWD), Water Quality Products (WQP) and Storm Water Solutions (SWS). The podcast covers topics under the One Water movement including the municipal and industrial water and wastewater, point of use, point of entry, residential, storm water and erosion control markets. Talking Under Water highlights news, trends, new technologies, industry discussions and on-site interviews with experts for WWD, WQP and SWS. New episodes of the podcast are released on the third Friday of every month. Logo Images: Anatoly Tiplyashin / Romolo Tavani /

Contact the Talking Under Water podcast editors by emailing [email protected] or engaging with them on Twitter @TUWpodcast. Join the conversation by commenting or using the hashtag #talkingunderwaterpod on social media. 

About the Author

Katie Johns

Katie Johns, editor-in-chief of Storm Water Solutions and Water Quality Products, graduated from the University of Missouri in 2016 with a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. Johns joined the Storm Water Solutions team in September 2019. Johns also helps plan the annual StormCon conference and co-hosts the Talking Under Water podcast. Prior to entering the B2B industry, she worked as a newspaper reporter and editor in Sarasota, Florida, and a magazine assistant editor in the Chicago suburbs. She can be reached at [email protected]

About the Author

Bob Crossen

Bob Crossen is senior managing editor for WWD and iWWD. Crossen graduated from Illinois State University in Dec. 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in German and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. He worked for Campbell Publications, a weekly newspaper company in rural Illinois outside St. Louis for four years as a reporter and regional editor.