WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Rural Water Association opened the 2015 Rural Water Rally on February 10th with a ceremony that included speeches from NRWA President Charles Hilton, Congressman Robert Aderholt, and USDA Undersecretary of Rural Development Lisa Mensah.
Hilton, the NRWA President from South Carolina, began the rally by reminding the crowd about the power of association. As the nation grows, it has become a challenge for elected officials to maintain the close relationships they have with their constituents. By joining their voices in an association affords rural Americans a way to ensure their views are still heard and their needs still represented.
“We have associations in all 50 states,” Hilton said. “Never doubt the power of that.”
He also reminded the crowd of water professionals, that their work is the primary strength of the association.
“The National Rural Water Association is just a name without you,” Hilton said to the audience. “Your grassroots efforts and work in the field are what gives that name power.”
Congressman Aderholt from Alabama spoke about rural water driving rural economies.
“It’s something I have seen first-hand,” he said.
The congressman also detailed the programs and appropriations that have assisted rural communities and the future of those programs.
Undersecretary Mensah detailed how impressed she has been with rural water in her short time with rural utilities. She also sees President Hilton’s own water system, Breezy Hill Water & Sewer Company, as an example of USDA and rural water working together to benefit small communities.
“Just think, five people were able to get a loan that allowed them to bring water to an area of South Carolina, where there was none before,” she said. “What started as just 297 taps has grown into over 5,500 customers.”
After the opening session, water professionals from across the nation went to meet their Senators and Congressmen.