Circuit Rider Program

About the Program

Photo Courtesy of South Dakota Association of Rural Water Systems

In 1980, the USDA Farmers Home Administration, in collaboration with NRWA, established the Rural Water Circuit Rider Program. This program provides a nationwide team of drinking water professionals to provide training and technical assistance to water utility managers, boards and operations specialists. This training is designed as on-site, hands-on, activity-based training, where participants take ownership in learning how to resolve their current and future problems. The program is designed to protect USDA Rural Development’s current water utility infrastructure investments and help them plan for a more sustainable future.

Providing Assistance

The NRWA Circuit Rider Program is made up of 49 State Rural Water Associations (CT/RI are combined as one) and Puerto Rico, totaling 147 Circuit Riders in the U.S. These Circuit Riders provide hands-on training and technical assistance to small, rural water systems on an everyday basis, 24/7. Personal, professional assistance is at the heart of the Circuit Rider program. On-site help is delivered when and where a rural community needs it. Assistance to small communities and rural utility systems serving a population of 10,000 or less has included:

  • Identifying & evaluating affordable solutions to water & wastewater problems in rural areas
  • Assisting systems to rapidly respond & recover after natural & man-made emergencies such as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, ice storms and the health pandemic, COVID-19
  • Protecting the environment & public health by improving treatment processes
  • Improving financial sustainability through better management practices, more efficient operations & better maintained system components
  • Enhancing compliance with federal regulations
  • Assistance directed toward RD/RUS borrowers and potential borrowers
  • Assistance provided for all aspects of water utility management, finance, operation and maintenance, regulatory compliance, energy efficiency and loan/grant applications

Circuit Riders have provided technical assistance more than 700,000 times to help rural systems and communities since 2009. 

Rita Clary, Circuit Rider Program Manager
Photo Courtesy of South Dakota Association of Rural Water Systems

Moving Forward

The NRWA Circuit Rider Program has been largely beneficial to rural and small communities across the United States. The program continues to grow and adapt to changing circumstances, like the COVID-19 pandemic. State Rural Water Associations continue to provide this technical assistance to utilities through the Circuit Rider Program every day.