Looking Back at 2020
2020 has been an unprecedented and challenging year, to state the obvious. The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced changes throughout our country and the world, and specifically it has presented unique challenges to Rural Water. Throughout this difficult time, rural water and wastewater operators have remained dedicated and driven to continuing to provide safe drinking water and clean wastewater treatment.
Early in the stages of the pandemic, USDA Rural Utilities Service declared Rural Water Circuit Riders to be essential services to the U.S. Government. This allowed Circuit Riders to continue to provide small and rural utilities with critical assistance. In some cases, this even included Circuit Riders operating a system when the only operator was exposed or tested positive for COVID-19.
Throughout this turbulent year there have been many successes and advancements. The National Rural Water Association successfully converted two in-person events to be fully virtual. In June, the 2020 In-Service Training for federal program staff was converted to an online/webinar format. Federal program staff were able to participate in the necessary training they receive each year.
After the cancellation of the 2020 WaterPro Conference in-person event, NRWA went into overdrive and converted the conference to a virtual event. As part of this event, NRWA leadership recognized how hard 2020 had already been, and decided to offer the event completely free! The keynote speaker for the Virtual WaterPro Conference was Mike Rowe, who acknowledged the audience as unsung American heroes. The event was a great success with over 1,500 registrants.
From State Rural Water Associations delivering PPE to systems and utilities, to NRWA winning a new 5-year USDA Circuit Rider Contract, and so much more, rural water has continued to persevere and grow even in the most difficult of times.
National Rural Water Association thanks all the essential and dedicated water and wastewater operators who have truly made a difference in 2020. After all, safe water and clean wastewater treatment are vital to a community’s health. Our hat is off to you and your exemplary service. We are looking forward to seeing what will be accomplished in 2021!