NRWA Joins #RebuildRural Coalition Advocating for Investment in Rural Infrastructure

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Rural Water Association has joined #RebuildRural, a coalition of over 200 organizations from across the country encouraging President Donald J. Trump to prioritize rebuilding infrastructure in rural America.

“Those of us in rural communities have seen our infrastructure deteriorate, jeopardizing jobs, our agricultural competitiveness and the health of rural families,” the coalition wrote in a letter to the President. “Our deteriorating infrastructure threatens our leadership position.”

NRWA joined the effort as a way to bring greater support to its over 31,000 utility memberships, which supply drinking water and wastewater service in all 50 states. Rural Water has continually advocated for investment in the small water systems that supply clean, affordable drinking water to their communities, and the wastewater facilities that protect the public health and the environment.

Rural America is known to be the primary supplier of our nation’s food and energy stocks, but is also the primary source of the volunteers that serve in the U.S. Military. The rural communities that supply these invaluable resources cannot thrive without clean, reliable water and wastewater services, but their need is great.

“The scope of the investment needed is staggering,” the coalition letter said. “Clearly the federal government must continue to play an important role in providing funding and those federal investments should increase.”

USDA Rural Development has been the Federal Government’s best tool for assisting rural communities. This agency provided financial support to rural communities through loan, loan guarantee and grant programs that provide affordable financing for water and wastewater projects. Any federal investment in rebuilding rural infrastructure should include fully-funding this agency.

The letter then states that federal investment will likely be insufficient, and that creative solutions will be needed to make the necessary progress. The Rural Water industry has always embraced creative solutions and NRWA was founded to maximize the limited resources available to small utilities. Rural Water trains over 80,000 water professionals a year and makes over 55,000 on-site assistance visits, ensuring that every dollar spent by small utilities has the maximum benefit for their communities.

Rural Water stands ready to support these efforts to provide the best water and wastewater service in the world to rural families, rural business and rural communities.

West Virginia Rural Water Assists School for the Deaf and Blind After Water Break

Romney, W.V. – A massive line break in Romney, W.V. cut service to the West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind in Romney, W.V., disrupting classes and forcing the students living on campus to relocate. The school contacted the West Virginia Rural Water Association for assistance.

“I contacted one of our Circuit Riders to provide emergency leak detection,” said WVRWA Executive Director Amy Swann. Circuit Riders are roving water professionals that provide on-site technical assistance to water and wastewater utilities.

Bertis McCarty rearranged his schedule to provide leak detection and other assistance. He met with Patrick McCord, Maintenance Supervisor for the school.

“We located the leak behind the cafeteria under a handicap ramp,” McCarty explained.

The leak was approximately seven feet below the surface and took nearly two days to uncover. Once the leak was repaired, the school and City of Romney started working to restore service. The city even donated some water pipe and fittings so that the school did not have to wait for delivery to begin repairs.

“Rick Davis, supervisor for the City of Romney was an invaluable part of the equation,” McCarty said.

Rural Water’s assistance saved the school roughly $3,000 per month in lost water but the benefits of the assistance went far beyond money saved.

“The costs to the facility and the community would be hard to measure in dollars,” McCarty said. “The students living on campus were displaced for seven days.”

Rural Water’s assistance ensured school could resume classes as quickly as possible.

“Needless to say, it was a very stressful situation for us,” the school’s superintendent, Dr. Martin Keller, Jr., said in a letter. “I wanted to personally thank Amy and Bertis as well as your association for your assistance.”

Aspen Pines, Wyo. Named Nation’s Best Tasting Water

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With a wide smile Mike Hoeft, a Water System Operations Specialist from Aspen Pines Water and Sewer District in Wyoming, walked to the stage and accepted the Gold Medal award for the Nation’s best-tasting water at the Great American Water Taste Test on Feb. 8. The Taste Test is held annually as part of the National Rural Water Association’s Rural Water Rally in Washington, D.C.

“I collected this sample myself,” Hoeft said. “We’ve won several taste tests and every time I was the one who collected the sample.”

Hoeft explained that the water has great taste because it requires no treatment. The water is drawn from a series of deep wells.

Moroe, Utah won the Silver Award and Franklin, Ken. earned the Bronze. The five finalists also included Steele, N.D. and Consolidated Baseyards Public Water System 258 from Wailuku, Hawaii, which won the first ever taste test hosted by the Hawaii Rural Water Association.

The five finalists were selected from a field of 39 water samples submitted from across the nation. Each state rural water association holds their own taste test and winners are eligible to compete in the national competition. Finalists are selected in a preliminary round, with the finals judged by a panel of expert guest judges. This year’s panel included U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Deputy Staff Director Fitzhugh Elder, IV; Joe Gilson, a member of the Donald J. Trump administration working in the USDA; USDA Water and Environmental Programs Senior Engineer Nicole Schindler; USDA Water and Environmental Programs Community Programs Specialist Lisa Chesnel; and USDA Rural Development Archaeologist Basia Howard.

Judges rated each water sample based on its clarity, bouquet and taste.

Video recordings and photo galleries of the Taste Test are available below.

NRWA Opens 2017 Rural Water Rally in Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Despite on-going change and deep uncertainty surrounding the nation’s capital, the National Rural Water Association opened its 2017 Rural Water Rally on Feb. 7 with optimism about the success of their programs and eagerness to build new relationships moving forward.

The speakers at the Rally opening included NRWA President Steve Fletcher of Illinois, the NRWA Legislative Chair Kent Watson from Texas, Deputy Staff Director for the US Senate Committee on Appropriations Fitzhugh Elder IV, and Former Chief of Staff for Senator Thad Cochran Keith Heard.

“Thank you all for being here,” Fletcher said. “It’s a great time to be in D.C. – I think that’s said every time we’re here. There’s a new administration, there’s new opportunities, new challenges but I we can meet those and be successful this year.”

The NRWA President emphasized that change was underway, and that whether individuals agreed with that change or not, those changes were happening.

“Rural Water now needs to go with the flow, adapt to the change, accommodate the change, embrace the change, in order to continue our work across America,” he said.

Fletcher encouraged all in the water industry to remain active and productive, and to engage with their elected officials.

“With the changes in D.C., we have our best opportunity in many years to affect the future of our water and wastewater systems,” Fletcher said. “These efforts have the chance to benefit our members for years and years to come.”

Elder and Heard discussed the details of the current budget process and the prospects of continuing resolution. Elder expressed how much the Rally felt like home, since he was formally part of NRWA’s D.C staff. Heard, formerly of Senator Cochran’s office recently joined NRWA.

After the opening session, the Rally attendees left for meetings with their elected representatives. These meeting will continue through Feb. 8 and will be followed up with meetings with legislators’ and their staff throughout the year.

NRWA Announces New Association Logo

DUNCAN, Okla. – The National Rural Water Association has chosen a new logo to represent the association. New logos are also planned for Water University, the WaterPro Community and WaterPro Conference.

NRWA officials will announce the new logos at the Rural Water Rally to be held Feb. 6-8 in Washington, D.C. The new logos will be updated onto the website and other media throughout the week.

The association chose to update the logo based on NRWA’s membership growth and program development since the previous logo. In the years since the previous logo was approved, NRWA has expanded to include a State Affiliate in all 50 states, launched Water University, the WaterPro Community, the WaterPro Conference and the Workforce Development Center’s apprenticeship program.

NRWA has also expanded the offering in its Products and Services Portfolio. This portfolio was designed to offer unique options specifically-designed to benefit water utilities. These products and services include the Rural Water Loan Fund; Insurance for line breaks and data breaches; customer contact services; website design and hosting; lifestyle health plans; and mobile forms and work orders.

Forming Responsible Management Entities: 2p.m. CST March 2

Forming Responsible Management Entities: 2p.m. CST March 2 Register Now

The session will discuss the applicability of Responsible Management Entities and the different types of entities whether Governmental or Volunteer. The discussion will center around forming the Entities, the Entities focus, roles, and responsibilities. As many as 26 million homeowners living in subdivisions, mobile home parks or small communities use septic systems without a centralized sewer treatment plant. RME’s range from home owner associations that use regular pumping schedules to systems using low pressure lines to move grey water to a centralized drain-field.

About the Presenter:

William “Rusty” Reeves began his career with La Rural Water Association in September 1997 in the Louisiana Compliance Initiative Program. He previously worked as General Manager/System Operator for West Allen Parish Water District for eight years and holds a Class IV Certification in Water Production, Treatment and Distribution as well as Class I Certification in Wastewater Collection and Treatment. Reeves received his CIT (Certified Instructional Technologist Training) in Mississippi in 2004, and upgraded to a CET (Certified Environmental Trainer) in 2005 through the National Environmental Safety & Health Training Association.

West Virginia Rural Water Deploys Mobile Treatment Plant to Assist Community Without Water

GREEN SPRINGS, W.V – When the Central Hampshire County Public Service District was having problems filling the water tanks that serviced the town of Green Springs, they contacted the West Virginia Rural Water Association for assistance. Rural Water quickly discovered the utility was facing a more serious problem, and provided the assistance to restore the system to normal functioning.

“I was originally called in for leak detection,” explained Bertis McCarty, a circuit rider for WVRWA.

The Service District was having trouble gaining water in Green Spring tanks and it was assumed the water was lost to leaks. The utility had attempted several measures to fill the tanks, including attaching additional pumps.

“They tried a lot of makeshift solutions,” McCarty said. “They even had the fire department haul water from a neighboring community and pump it into the system.”
After two days of leak detection, McCarty and Ernie Crouse, a district operations specialist, only found a single small leak. McCarty met with Crouse and General Manager James Hoffman to discuss the system’s operations.

“They started throwing out some numbers and I was taking notes,” McCarty said. “I did some figures and a lot of the numbers just didn’t add up. I realized pretty quickly there was something else wrong.”
The Green Springs system relied on a membrane filtration plant to supply water for a population 1,100, including an elementary school. The membranes failed and the plant had shut down.
“It was actually water production,” McCarty said.

With the problem identified, the utility ordered replacement membranes. The system still needed a solution until the membrane plant could be returned to service. The WVRWA dispatched its mobile treatment plant to supply the town with water until regular service was restored. They also sent Circuit Rider Mike Hersman to help set-up and operate the mobile plant. The mobile treatment plant puts the same equipment often found in a permanent facility – pumps, filters, chlorination – onto a trailer. The mobile plant can assist when communities lose water, but it is not a long-term replacement.

“Using a mobile treatment plant, the community still had to be on a boil water order,” McCarty said.

The mobile treatment plant filled the utilities tanks and provided service until the replacement membranes were put into place. The situation also provided an opportunity to create a backup and make the system more resilient in the future.

“Green Springs and the neighboring Silver Springs are connected by a valve,” McCarty said.

With the membranes replaced, the Green Springs system was capable of supplying both communities with water. McCarty also advised that, with a pump upgrade, the Silver Springs utility could also supply both communities.

“It gives them some backup if something happens in the future,” McCarty said.

National Rural Water Association Opens Registration for District Forum

DUNCAN, Okla. – The National Rural Water Association has opened registration for the 2017 Regional/Water District Issues Forum, which will be held April 11-12 in Washington D.C. Registration information is available Here.

The District Forum was designed to address the unique needs of Utility Districts and Regional Water Systems. These utilities face unique challenges due to large service areas, miles of pipe that cross various jurisdictional boundaries and unique governmental structures. The Forum has evolved into a unique opportunity for all system leaders to get personal briefings on the latest issues and network with utility and agency leaders shaping the water industry.

The full agenda will not be finalized until political appointees are in position later this year. Previous forums have included presentations by Patrick Carroll, Chris Tomassi and Melissa Zimmerman, appropriators from the Interior and Agriculture Appropriations Committees; Rural Utility Service Administrator Brandon McBride; Jim Gebhardt and Ron Bergman of the EPA; Jeanette Manfra, Council to the DHS Secretary; Adam Sedgewick, Analyst at the National Institute for Standards and Technology; and Steve Mustard and Michael Marlow of the Automation Federation.

Early Registration Discount for the 2017 Rural Water Rally expires Jan. 17

DUNCAN, Okla. – The early registration discount for the 2017 Rural Water Rally will expire on Jan. 17. Rally participants that register early can save $25. Registration and rally information is available at

The Rural Water Rally brings utility system representatives to Capitol Hill to support funding for infrastructure, training and technical assistance. The Rural Water Rally includes the Great American Water Taste Test, where drinking water from around the country is judged to determine the year’s best. All events are held at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill.

NRWA is also organizing letter-writing and social media campaigns for rural water supporters that cannot attend the rally in person. Utilities that have received assistance from rural water are encouraged to write a letter to their State Association detailing how the association has helped and the value they provide.

Rural water supporters can also participate in the social media campaign by posting their support for rural water on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #NRWArepresents during the rally.