The Risks of Industrial Cyberattack and How You Can Manage Them: 2 p.m. CST Nov. 30


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The Risks of Industrial Cyberattack and How You Can Manage Them: 2 p.m. CST Nov. 30 Click Here to Register

The risks of significant, debilitating cyberattack on America’s water and wastewater treatment facilities are mounting.

Without the proper industrial automation and control system defenses in place, a cyberattack can disable safe, normal operations, and put the local environment and economy as well as lives in jeopardy.

Despite expert predictions and ongoing calls for improved security, not nearly enough is being done to implement basic industrial cybersecurity measures, most notably best-practice standards, and reinforce them through proper staff training.

One reason for this is many owners and operators of critical infrastructure are not fully aware of the real-world risks and dangers associated with cyberattack on IACS. Others don’t know where and how to begin in addressing the threats.

This important webinar is aimed at those who would like to understand more about the industrial cybersecurity risks they are exposed to and what they can do to mitigate these risks.

Presented by Steve Mustard, an industrial cybersecurity subject-matter expert of the International Society of Automation and its umbrella association, the Automation Federation. Mustard is an automation consultant with extensive development and management experience in real-time embedded equipment and automation systems. He has worked extensively in the water and wastewater industry. His customers include Anglian Water and Yorkshire Water in the UK, Dublin City Council in Ireland, Sydney Water in Australia, and the Western Virginia Water Authority in the US.

Mustard is a UK registered Chartered Engineer, a European registered Eur Ing, an ISA Certified Automation Professional® (CAP®) and a certified Global Industrial Cybersecurity Professional (GICP).

USDA Announces $331 Million Investment for Clean Water Infrastructure in Rural Communities


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $331 million in 85 projects that will improve water and wastewater infrastructure in rural areas.

“Strategic investments like these into community infrastructure provide a path to rural economic growth,” Vilsack said. “Water and wastewater upgrades protect the health and safety of those who live and work in rural areas, and are especially critical given today’s aging infrastructure in areas that have not fully benefited from rural America’s economic rebound. Modernizing water and wastewater systems improves the quality of life and can help attract jobs to rural communities.”

USDA is providing $264 million in loans and $67 million in grants through Rural Development’s Water & Environmental Programs. These programs provide assistance and financing to develop drinking water and waste disposal systems for communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

Community infrastructure investments are a key piece of USDA’s mission to support America’s rural communities, and these investments build on the $13.9 billion USDA has invested over the course of the Obama Administration to support 5,825 water and wastewater infrastructure projects that currently benefit 19.5 million rural residents.

The Full Text of the press release can be found Here.

Rural Water Loan Fund Grows to Over $5 Million


rwloanlogoDUNCAN, Okla. – The National Rural Water Association’s Rural Water Loan Fund has grown to over $5.2 Million, supporting water and wastewater utilities with low-cost loans for a variety of projects.

The Rural Water Loan fund was created through grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a means of providing short-term, low-cost loans for repair costs, small capital projects, planning or pre-development costs associated with larger projects.

The loan fund has expanded to include a 90-day, interest-free emergency loan to help systems recover in the event of disasters or other emergencies. The provision is available for utilities in a declared national, state or local emergency, and is designed to have funds available within 48 hours of receiving an application.

The RWLF has also added support for energy efficiency projects. Utilities can access these loans independently or as part of NRWA’s Energy Efficiency program, which is available in 14 states. The Energy Efficiency program offers free, on-site energy audits, energy efficiency training and efficiency recommendations to water and wastewater utilities. Utilities can then use the RWLF to secure financing for the recommended upgrades.

The Rural Water Load Fund was created through grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Loans are for a maximum of $100,000 or 75% of the project cost, and have a maximum repayment period of 10 years. Interest rates for the loans are around 3% and have no fees.

The RWLF is a revolving loan fund, so repayments are returned into the fund where they can be used to finance future loans and assist other utilities. Since its creation, the fund has made over $7.62 Million in loans.

More information about the Rural Water Loan Fund is available at http://nrwa.org/initiatives/revolving-loan-fund/

Quality on Tap! Let it work for you: 2 p.m. CST Nov. 2


Quality on Tap! Let it work for you: 2 p.m. CST Nov. 2 Click Here to Register

“Quality On Tap – Our Commitment, Our Profession” is a nationwide, grassroots public relations and awareness campaign designed especially for the drinking water industry. QOT is intended to promote a positive image to the public, focusing on the safety of drinking water and the expertise of the technical professional who ensure water quality.

The campaign is now 20 years old and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, it’s continuing to grow nationwide as rural and small community utilities get more involved with their customers. Learn how you can tell your story, the way you want it told.

Presented by Michael Harris, Marketing Director, National Rural Water Association.

Water University Launches Upgraded Website


wateruDUNCAN, Okla. – Water University has completed a site-wide upgrade to improve the appearance and function of the website.

One of the main features of the upgrade is that the entire Utility Management Certification process is handled within Water University. Users can now apply, test and renew without using a third-party testing site. The upgrade simplifies the UMC process and consolidates all the certification activities into a single location.

waterumobileThe new website has an updated look and feel that capitalizes on the latest web technology. Water University is now mobile responsive, allowing users to access the site from a variety of devices. The new design prominently displays UMC features to provide quick access to those entering the certification program.

The new system is flexible and expandable, which will allow Water University to update its current programs and add new certifications in the future.

Water University has also migrated the video recordings of all its webinar presentations to a new host. The new system provides higher quality and stability while improving control over distribution. Live webinars are still presented free of charge for the good of the water industry. Water University does charge a small fee for those who wish to view webinar recordings or who wish to print a certificate for continuing education credit.

Rural Water Restoring Water after Hurricane Matthew


iupufrtioyDUNCAN, Okla. – State Rural Water Associations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina are assisting water and wastewater systems damaged by high winds and floods created by Hurricane Matthew.

Matthew passed along Florida’s Atlantic coast starting on Oct. 7 and moved north before turning further out to sea. High winds and flooding resulted in a reported 33 deaths and left over 2 million people without power. Early estimates place economic losses from the storm at $4-6 billion.

Rural Water Associations began contacting systems after the storm to offer assistance and perform damage assessments. The most common problem reported is power loss. Flood waters are also complicating relief efforts. Systems that had prepositioned, off-site generators have reported difficulty in reaching those sites to start the generators. Others utilities have operating generators but are struggling to keep the generators fueled.

hurricane_matthew_composite_radar_08-10-2016_1458utcAs flood waters recede, associations are expecting to gain access to more utilities and receive more requests for assistance. Based on past storms and early damage assessments, the rural water staff are planning to receive requests for assistance to repair damaged pipes and distribution systems, replace shorted-out electronics and disinfect contaminated wells.

Rural Water has become a leader in providing emergency assistance to small water systems. Rural Water Associations offer a range of emergency response services that include emergency training, loaning generators and equipment, on-site technical assistance and incident reporting. Utilities can also apply for short-term, low-interest loans from the National Rural Water Association’s Rural Water Loan Fund.

Rural Water Associations have also been coordinating their efforts with other state and national agencies to provide prompt assistance to all affected communities. Georgia Rural Water Association Executive Director Jimmy Matthews praised the cooperative efforts of all the agencies affiliated with the Georgia Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency in being prepared for the hurricane.

“GEMHSA’s Atlanta Command Center has been coordinating the rapid response and recovery to the power outages and flooding,” he said.

Rural Water Associations Brace for Hurricane Matthew


matthewDUNCAN, Okla. – Rural Water Associations in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are preparing for the landfall of Hurricane Matthew. The National Hurricane Center is predicting that the center of the storm will pass close to the Atlantic coast, possibly making landfall in Florida, as a Category 4 Hurricane. Matthew is expected to bring winds over 75 miles per hour and a storm surge of at least five feet.

Various areas of the three states are under voluntary or mandatory evacuations.

The Florida Rural Water Association, Georgia Rural Water Association and South Carolina Rural Water Association have all begun making preparations to respond to high winds and floods caused by the storm. Associations coordinate with their state emergency management agencies and with their Water/Wastewater Agency Response Networks, or WARNs.

Rural Water staff began contacting utilities in the storm’s projected path, alerting them to the potential danger, advising on preparations and informing them of the emergency response services available after the storm. Associations are positioning equipment and personnel in locations that will allow them to remain safe and quickly respond after the storm passes.

Successful 2016 WaterPro Features Games Show, New Sessions and Agency Partnerships


img_0016DUNCAN, Okla. – The National Rural Water Association’s WaterPro Conference in Orlando, Fla. has been rated as one of the association’s most successful conferences.

This year’s conference drew over 2,000 water professionals from across the nation, and drew high praise on post conference surveys. When asked to rate how likely they were to recommend the conference to a friend of colleague, 42.86% responded with 10, the maximum score, 68% responded with 8 or higher.

“I felt like it was the best venue and had the best content for attendees since I have been attending!” One attendee wrote. img_9994crop

The 2016 conference debuted the new Are You Smarter Than a Circuit Rider? gameshow, where conference attendees partnered with randomly-drawn Rural Water staff to answer questions about drinking water, wastewater, regulations, utility management and the water industry. HD Supply Waterworks sponsored over $14,000 in prizes for the gameshow. The winning Circuit Rider earned $7,000 for their State Association and the winning attendee won a $7,000 credit with HD supply Waterworks for their utility.

The contest drew an energetic crowd that filled the seating area and spilled into standing room around the edges. Are You Smarter Than a Circuit Rider? received a 100% score in WaterPro app, with all respondents indicating that watching the show was time well spent and that they would like to see the event at future conferences.

“It was a great idea!” A viewer responded. “I loved that it was right after lunch, it kept the energy up through the conference.”

img_0168This year, WaterPro also featured new physical security courses from trained professionals that have audited small water systems. Presentations included real-world demonstrations of how an attacker could easily bypass locks to gain access to valuable utility equipment, important water facility infrastructure and dangerous chlorine chemicals. The session was so popular that a repeat presentation was added. All attendees rated the session as a five, the maximum score, in the WaterPro App.

“Educational, fascinating and entertaining class,” one attendee wrote.

“Please have him back next year,” wrote another.

The presenters also hosted a Lockpick Village in the Exhibit Hall – a hands-on demonstration and networking area that allowed attendees to learn about the weaknesses of common locks and discuss security issues.

This year’s conference again showcased Rural Water’s strong partnerships with funding and regulatory agencies.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $283 million in 168 projects to improve water and wastewater infrastructure across the country.

“Strong infrastructure is critical to keeping America’s communities of all sizes thriving, and USDA is proud to partner with the National Rural Water Association to help improve the livelihood of our smallest towns by providing access to reliable water and wastewater systems,” said Vilsack. “Projects like these are critical to the economy, health and future of rural America, and today 19 million residents now have improved water and wastewater services in their communities thanks to investments USDA has made since 2009.”

img_9973USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator Brandon McBride made the announcement on Vilsack’s behalf at the WaterPro conference. Jacqueline Ponti-Lazaruk, Assistant Administrator of the RUS Water and Environment Program spoke about service improvements USDA is making to the loan application process. She also announced that water and wastewater loan interest rates are at a historic low and are expected to fall even further on October 1.

“It’s a great time to apply for an infrastructure loan to improve your community,” Ponti-Lazaruk said. “Long-term, low-interest loans are available for drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal and storm water drainage in rural areas.”

As with previous years, the RUS presentations received high reviews with all attendees awarding the session the maximum score of five or a four.

“Thank you for the excellent information and continued motivation,” one attendee wrote about the session.

Peter Grevatt, Director of EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, and Andrew Sawyers, Director of the EPA Office of Wastewater Management, gave presentations and answered questions about EPA programs and the latest regulations. Both engaged the audience in a discussion about their experiences at their utilities, after the increased level of public interest due to recent events highlighted in mass media.

The EPA session also received high marks, with 80% of attendees rating the presentation as a five or a four.

“Informative and timely presentations,” said a review. “Best of the conference.”

After a successful 2016 conference, NRWA is making preparations for the 2017 WaterPro Conference, to be held Sept. 18-20 at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nev.

Fletcher Elected NRWA President; Directors Voted to Executive Board


img_0152ORLANDO, Fla. – Steve Fletcher of Illinois was elected as the President of the National Rural Water Association during meetings held at the WaterPro Conference in Orlando, Fla. Fletcher was inaugurated during a luncheon on Sept. 14.

Fletcher will lead an executive board that includes Senior Vice President Steve Wear of Arkansas, Vice-President David Baird of Delaware, Secretary Kent Watson of Texas, Treasurer John O’Connell, III of New York, Immediate Past President Charles Hilton of South Carolina, and board members Phillip Combs of Tennessee, Wilmer Melton, III of North Carolina and Glen Womack of Louisiana.
“My original board of directors encouraged me to participate in water organizations to promote our system,” Fletcher said. “I believe that this is the pinnacle of that effort for myself and the Washington County Water Company.”

Fletcher has been the Manager and Operator for the Washington County Water Company since November of 1981. The WCWC is a not for profit rural water system that serves 5,800 customers in seven counties across southern Illinois.

Fletcher has been a member of the Illinois Rural Water Association since 1986 and was elected as the state director to the NRWA board in 1999. He was elected to the NRWA executive board in 2008.

In addition to his work in rural water, Fletcher has also been a police officer for Nashville, Ill. since 1987 and serves as the Chief Deputy Coroner for the County of Washington. His family is active with St. Paul’s United Church of Christ.

He enjoys spending time with his family, especially his grandkids, as well as playing golf, fishing and deer hunting. Fletcher has been married to his wife Jane for 41 years. His son, Brian Fletcher lives in Nashville, Ill. and has two daughters, Lainey and Briley. His daughter Tracy Thessing lives with her husband Ben in Mascoutah, Ill. with their daughter Finley and son Fletcher.
Steve Fletcher will serve as president of NRWA, the nation’s largest water utility association with over 30,000 members. He will be one of the voices representing Rural Water at industry events, with government agencies and in the halls of Congress.

“I am truly humbled and honored to be NRWA President,” he said. “There is nothing above being president of the greatest water organization in the country, maybe even the world. I will work hard to continue the success that my predecessors have achieved.”

Hilton Named NRWA’s Man of the Year


Oimg_0063RLANDO, Fla. – Charles Hilton was named the National Rural Water Association’s Man of the Year during the annual Tribute to Excellence awards ceremony, held on Sept. 13 at the WaterPro Conference in Orlando, Fla.

“The Man of the Year award is presented to an individual or an organization that have gone “above and beyond” the normal scope of activities and support for Rural Water across America based on their loyalty, dedication and outstanding contributions to the Rural Water cause,” said Paul Fulgham, chair of the NRWA Awards Committee.

Hilton has served as president of the NRWA board since 2014. He began his career in Rural Water in 1974 and has been the general manager of the Breezy Hill Water & Sewer Co. in South Carolina for 27 years. Hilton has served on the board of the South Carolina Rural Water Association in numerous positions, including as president.