WASHINGTON D.C. – The National Rural Water Association opened the 2014 Rural Water Rally in an opening session that included speeches from Congressman Alan Nunnelee and USDA Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien, held on February 11th in Washington D.C.
Nunnelee, a Republican from Mississippi, remarked about the efforts of the Mississippi Rural Water Association during ice storms and tornados in the state. The congressman also praised rural water for its efforts to communicate and coordinate with government.
“The most important thing we can do is communicate,” Nunnelee said. “If you communicate when you don’t have it, you communicate better when you do have to.”
Nunnelee also expressed confidence that communication would aid rural water moving forward, despite potential budget issues in the future.
“We can get through the tough times in America by working together and communicating,” the congressman said.
O’Brien focused on the economic impact of rural water and the value it provides families in small communities. Rural Development’s goal is to provide economic opportunity and improve quality of life in rural America.
“I think that means making Rural America a great place for young families,” O’Brien said.
The Under Secretary focused on the “bio economy” that includes more than foods and textiles, discussing an entire range of biomass that can be used to create products and energy.
“All these require a clean, reliable water source,” O’Brien said. “You are the foundation for opportunity in rural America.”
NRWA President Doug Anderton concluded the remarks by encouraging the representatives from NRWA’s over 31,000 members to tell their story. Because of the efforts of rural water members in their community, National Rural Water had a successful year, despite sequestration and government shut-down threatening its sources of funding.
“Every day National Rural Water is advocating for rural utilities,” he said. “We’re working to ensure our communities have a clean, reliable source of drinking water. We’re working to ensure the regulations systems must follow are affordable and based on sound science.”
Despite continuing uncertainty with the economy and the federal budget, NRWA has protected its critical Circuit Rider program and expanded its Source Water Protection programs to every state. The association has also successfully worked to have fire hydrants exempted from lead and copper rules, and to protect rural communities in the farm bill. Mike McNulty from West Virginia also testified as part of hearings regarding a chemical spill in West Virginia.
“Rural water has seen up years and down years, and we have come out stronger because of you,” Anderton said. “It is your willingness to serve and to tell your story.”
“None of this would have happened without you.”