ICYMI: Rural Water Rally 2019

ICYMI: Rural Water Rally 2019

Congressman Sanford Bishop (GA)

Washington, DC – Days leading up to this year’s Rally were filled with uncertainty with the longest government shutdown in U.S. history that lasted 35 days. A week before Rally was to kick-off, agreements were reached, and the government was back in business.

Despite the questionability of government activity, states scheduled appointments with elected officials and gathered information to deliver this year’s Rural Water priorities.

NRWA kicked off the 2019 Rural Water Rally on February 5 with almost 400 rural water and wastewater professionals from across the country in attendance with a welcome from NRWA President Kent Watson of Texas.

Anne Hazlett, Special Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development

Featured speakers Congressman Sanford Bishop from Georgia and both thanked attendees for the important work they undertake every day to provide clean, affordable drinking water for communities everywhere in the nation.

“You are here in our Nation’s capital to remind senators and congressman that because of you, we have a Strong America,” stated Bishop. “We can rest assure that our drinking water is safe and that are most precious resource, water, is protected.”

Bishop went into detail about his experiences with rural water and its emergency response to 2018 Tropical Storm Alberto and most recently to Hurricane Michael. He thanked Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and his own state of Georgia for coming to the aid of his Congressional district in Southwest Georgia during this devastation.

“Team work is common practice for Rural Water and that’s how you do,” exclaimed Bishop, “You are where the rubber meets the road. Thank you!”

Congressman Bishop is the chairman of the appropriations subcommittee on agriculture, rural development, food and drug administration and has urged the continual support of rural water programs because “they are vital to a better, safer quality of life.”

Hazlett followed Bishop echoing his words that Rural Water plays a vital role in the improvement of in our small communities and rural areas. She detailed stories from her road trip where she visited 42 states in the last 18 months.

She pointed to a Superbowl commercial by Kia and how the highlighted town benefitted from USDA funding for a new water treatment plant.  Hazlett connected that with the new infrastructure to ensure clean, affordable water brings economic development.

“We see our role as being a partner to local leaders to build strong and healthy communities. Rural Development’s core mission is to increase rural prosperity,” explained Hazlett. “To accomplish that mission, we focus on improving the quality of life and fostering economic opportunity through infrastructure, partnerships and innovation.”

NRWA President Kent Watson presenting Congressman Mike Conaway (TX) with NRWA Rising Star Award

Hazlett praised Rural Water for its work with USDA and tackling challenges together to strengthen Rural America.

Other speakers during Opening Session included NRWA Vice President and Legislative Committee Chair John O’Connell, III of New York and NRWA D.C. staff Bill Simpson, Mike Keegan, Keith Heard and Michael Preston.

After Opening Session concluded, Rally attendees began making the march to the Hill to attend meetings with elected officials. These meetings continued throughout the week and will help Rural Water continue its support of providing access to affordable and safe public water and effective wastewater maintenance.