WASHINGTON, D.C. – Despite on-going change and deep uncertainty surrounding the nation’s capital, the National Rural Water Association opened its 2017 Rural Water Rally on Feb. 7 with optimism about the success of their programs and eagerness to build new relationships moving forward.
The speakers at the Rally opening included NRWA President Steve Fletcher of Illinois, the NRWA Legislative Chair Kent Watson from Texas, Deputy Staff Director for the US Senate Committee on Appropriations Fitzhugh Elder IV, and Former Chief of Staff for Senator Thad Cochran Keith Heard.
“Thank you all for being here,” Fletcher said. “It’s a great time to be in D.C. – I think that’s said every time we’re here. There’s a new administration, there’s new opportunities, new challenges but I we can meet those and be successful this year.”
The NRWA President emphasized that change was underway, and that whether individuals agreed with that change or not, those changes were happening.
“Rural Water now needs to go with the flow, adapt to the change, accommodate the change, embrace the change, in order to continue our work across America,” he said.
Fletcher encouraged all in the water industry to remain active and productive, and to engage with their elected officials.
“With the changes in D.C., we have our best opportunity in many years to affect the future of our water and wastewater systems,” Fletcher said. “These efforts have the chance to benefit our members for years and years to come.”
Elder and Heard discussed the details of the current budget process and the prospects of continuing resolution. Elder expressed how much the Rally felt like home, since he was formally part of NRWA’s D.C staff. Heard, formerly of Senator Cochran’s office recently joined NRWA.
After the opening session, the Rally attendees left for meetings with their elected representatives. These meeting will continue through Feb. 8 and will be followed up with meetings with legislators’ and their staff throughout the year.