Florida Rural Water Assists Community to Increase Safety and Improve Water Quality

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. – The City of Riviera Beach, Fla. needed training and assistance to improve their safety and water quality. The Florida Rural Water Association provided repeated assistance to help the utility to make those improvements.

“They had hired a consultant to inspect the system and compile a list of needs for the system,” explained Chris Bailey, a Training Specialist with FRWA. “They had a lot of problems.”

Riviera Beach has an older system, and had experienced problems with low chlorine levels and sewage overflows. Inspections revealed several water quality issues, including holes in the well casings, algae, out-of-date calibrations and grass growing in the basins.  There were also numerous safety hazards, including improper safety equipment for chlorine and ammonia, no eye wash stations and broken chlorine piping.  The consultant contacted Florida Rural Water to help provide the training and technical assistance needed to get the utility operating appropriately.

Bailey and Moises Villalpando, a State Circuit Rider with FRWA, met Riviera Beach Interim Director Troy Perry to discuss the results of the inspection and previous sanitary surveys. They also met with the all the System Operations Specialists to ensure that everyone was trained correctly and that all staff were pursuing the same goals.

“We stressed that the water Riviera Beach was putting into the system was not completely healthy for its customers,” Bailey said.

Bailey and Villalpando first began with safety training the system employees on the safe storage and handling of the chlorine gas the system used for disinfection.

“We wanted to make sure they were safe changing chlorine cylinders or working with leaks,” Bailey said.

They also provided instruction and hands-on training in disinfection.

Bailey and Villalpando returned a second day and performed a walk-through inspection with the staff.

“We pointed out items from the inspections and ways to correct them,” Bailey explained.

After the training, Bailey and Villalpando again went with Perry to discuss a plan of action and to prioritize the various needs of the system. Villalpando agreed to visit the system regularly to provide assistance until the system was operating efficiently.

“Now that we’ve brought these things to their attention, the system can start making the improvements necessary,” Bailey said.

Extending the Life of Rural Water Potable Water Storage Tanks: 2p.m. CDT July 20

Extending the Life of Rural Water Potable Water Storage Tanks: 2p.m. CDT July 20  Register Now

This presentation will discuss solutions to “Cost Effectively Extending the Life of Rural Potable Water Tanks”. It will be focused on four actual rural water projects and case studies, where small towns were able to rehabilitate their aging end of life-cycle water tanks versus replacing them, which saved millions of dollars. The objective is to provide rural water entities, additional options to meet their communities clean water needs, while balancing limited budgetary resources.

About the presenters:
Randy Berthold began his career in coatings in 1992 with the Sherwin- Williams Company where he was employed for 19 years. His coatings experience at SW covered commercial and protective & marine coatings.
Randy also spent three years at the Carboline Company, an international manufacturer of corrosion resistant protective coatings. He held roles at Territory Manager and Oil & Gas Strategic Accounts Manager – Midwest.
His most recent employer was AkzoNobel Coatings where he was an Account Manager, Powder Coatings for portions of Missouri, Iowa, Illinois & Indiana.
Randy has been a nine year member of NACE International and is a NACE Certified Coatings Inspector Level 3, cert #11408. He currently serves as the vice chair for the NACE St Louis Chapter and spent the past three years as the Chapter Treasurer.

Matt Wierzchowski has been instrumental in the continued success of Raven and its innovative technology. He started his tenure at Raven 22 years ago serving in many different capacities including manufacturing, shipping, equipment assembly, customer service and infield applications. Matt also operated as Raven’s Sr. Technical Service Specialist, training and servicing certified applicators in the western U.S., including Hawaii and Alaska before taking on his latest role as Regional Technical Sales Manager for the Rocky Mountain Region.
Matt has fulfilled certifications for NACE Level 2 Coatings Inspector as well as SSPC Concrete Level 2 Inspector

NRWA Statement on Administration Position that RUS Loan Program is Duplicative

DUNCAN, Okla. – The National Rural Water Association applauds the President’s focus on the nation’s infrastructure including water and wastewater systems that are the first line of defense in public health and environmental protection. The USDA Water and Waste Program has a proven and effective delivery mechanism in place to deliver these infrastructure results. Since FY 1940 USDA’s Water Program has made 96,724 loans and grants totaling $54.6 billion. Today, the program provides approximately $1.6 billion per year in loans and grants to build new and improved water and waste disposal infrastructure. However, the administration’s proposed budget zeros out all funding for the USDA Water and Waste Disposal Program, a program that has been providing needed, affordable funding to rural communities for 72 years. The justification for its elimination is that it is duplicative to the State Revolving Loan Fund. This justification does not hold water when the data is examined.

The USDA program is supposedly a duplication of the EPA’s State Revolving Loan Fund, except that the USDA program started decades earlier and is dedicated to serving rural communities, where SRF funds primarily benefit large systems. The USDA water and waste disposal program was established in 1946 by what was then the Farmers Home Administration. The Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund was not established until 1996, during the reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The USDA has dedicated 100% of available loan and grant funds to rural and small communities for seven decades. Their records show that 85% of the projects funded serve populations of 5,000 or less; a staggering 41% serves populations of 1,000 or less. EPA records show that 77% of Clean Water Funds and 72% of Drinking Water Funds for FY-15 went to systems serving populations of over 10,000.

The fact is that 92% (46,456) of the 50,496 community water supplies in the United States serve less than 10,000 population and 81% (41,216) serve populations of 3,300 population or less. One of the reasons these smaller communities can provide high quality drinking water and wastewater service to their communities is that USDA loans and grants make it affordable to expand service, upgrade equipment and maintain regulatory compliance without the support of a large consumer base.

The USDA also has the immeasurable benefit of a long history as a supporter and partner of rural utilities. Unfortunately, a single source of funding from a regulatory agency with a regulatory enforcement mission creates inherent problems, problems that limit our combined objective to protect the public health and environment. While NRWA supports both the USDA and SRF programs and their different missions, it should be clear that the sole source of funding for water utilities should not come from their regulator.

The USDA Water and Waste Disposal Program achieves all these benefits while being one of the highest-quality federal programs and often called “the best money spent in government.” The latest Office of Management and Budget assessment of the USDA awarded the Water and Waste Disposal Program with its highest possible rating. The OMB findings stated that the program: “set ambitious goals, achieved results, is well managed and improves efficiency.” Far from being wasteful or duplicative, the USDA Water and Waste Disposal Program is critical for supporting the health, economic development, environmental protection and quality of life for the hard-working citizens of Rural America.

IRWA Makes Multiple Visits to Assist Utility with Chlorine, Odor Problems

GRAND JUNCTION, Iowa – When Grand Junction, Iowa had problems with low chlorine residuals and odor complaints with their water treatment facility, the Iowa Rural Water Association made multiple assistance visits to help correct the problem.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources first contacted IRWA in April, to request rural water’s assistance. Dale Barrie, an IRWA Training and Technical Assistance Specialist visited the system and started examining the utility’s reports and testing results.

“At the time, the community felt the system was treating at close to ideal conditions,” Barrie said.

However, Barrie noticed that the Grand Junction lab did not have the appropriate equipment to test for certain residual chemicals, like monochloramine and free ammonia.  The first recommendation was to acquire appropriate equipment to perform more thorough testing.

“I recommended that the chlorine feed be increased slightly to see if the breakpoint could be achieved,” Barrie said.

The breakpoint is the amount of chlorine required to satisfy all chlorine demand and completely treat the water. When utilities receive odor complaints, a common response is to reduce the chlorine feed, but the proper response is to increase the chlorine levels.

Barrie visited the system again after a sanitary survey found the presence of ammonia, a sign of possible nitrification. He recommended moving taps and ports in the system to better chlorinate the water and test the impact of changes made to the treatment process.

“We discussed moving the injection point to a more suitable point and adding a sample tap just before the water entered the distribution system,” Barrie said.

In July, the system’s chlorine pump failed and was offline for roughly 36 hours and Barrie visited again to assist. While the pump outage was a serious problem, it forced the utility to increase the chlorine feed. That increase helped reduce problems with chlorine residual and odor.

“The time without the pump caused the utility to increase the chlorine feed,” Barrie said. “This actually pushed the levels to the break point.”

The current feed pump was operating at close to maximum, but Barrie recommended that a different tube could be installed to increase the capacity. He also recommended overflowing the storage tanks to assist in turning over water. Once the recommendations were in place, the utility was able to keep the chlorine levels stable without odor complaints.

“Things went well at that point,” Barrie said.

ARWA Assistance, USDA funding, Helps Arkansas Town Solve Wastewater Problem, Save Money

McRAE, Ark. – Mayor Robert Sullivan inspects one of the newly-lined manholes of the McRae, Ark. wastewater collection system. Assistance from the Arkansas Rural Water Association and funding from USDA helped refurbish the manholes, solving an inflow problem and saving the community over $3,000 per year.

“We had just completed upgrades on the wastewater plant and had a contractor reline the collection system in-place,” explained Sullivan, who also manages McRae’s water and wastewater operations. “But we still had a lot of infiltration.”

Arkansas Rural Water performed an energy audit of the wastewater system, and found considerable variation in the amount of power the plant consumed. Typically, wastewater power usage is roughly constant and matches the amount of water distributed by the drinking water system. The evaluation revealed that additional water was entering the wastewater system, a process called inflow and infiltration, and McRae was paying to pump and treat this additional water.

“We discovered that roughly 22% of the utility’s annual electric bill went to pumping rain water that had entered through leaks in broken lines and manholes,” said ARWA Executive Director Dennis Sternberg.

ARWA performed a smoke test of the sewer system. A smoke test forces non-toxic artificial smoke through waste pipes under slight pressure. Any sign of smoke escaping is a potential leak and there was a large amount of visible smoke during the McRae test.

“Some of the manholes had leaks as big as your finger in them,” Sullivan said.

After inspecting McRae’s system, ARWA devised a plan to repair and rehabilitate 24 manholes to prevent future inflow and infiltration. Rural Water recommended using a contractor to make repairs and line the manholes with a material that would seal them against leaks. The Rural Water inspection and recommendations provided McRae all the paperwork they needed to quickly seek bids and find a contractor.

“They really took it from the beginning,”Sullivan said. “They got us everything we needed to move quickly.”

Rural Water also worked with the community to fund a fast, easy solution to funding the manhole repairs. McRae had used the USDA loan and grant program to fund construction of their wastewater plant, and they still had money left over from that project.

“We requested that USDA allow us to use the remaining funds to repair the manholes, and they approved,” Sullivan said.

Contractors repaired the leaks and coated with manholes with a spray-on lining that sealed them from further infiltration. The rehabilitation is expected to save the utility over $3,000 dollars per year in pumping costs, plus additional saves in equipment wear and increased service life.

“The manholes were starting to deteriorate and now they’ll last another 20-30 years,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan credits the success of the project to the assistance of ARWA.

“Rural water has been one of the greatest assets we’ve had access to,” he said. “They have an expert for every field of water and wastewater. They go out of their way to help us with anything.”

“You could not find anyone better,” Sullivan said.

Senators Express Concern Over Ag Budget Cuts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators from Rural States sent a letter to President Donald Trump, copied to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, on Tuesday, May 30 that expressed concern over proposed budget cuts to USDA programs.

Led by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, 29 Democratic senators signed the letter. The letter singled out cuts to rural development and the proposed elimination of an account that pays for rural water and wastewater infrastructure projects.

The full text of the letter is below. 5.30.17 Letter to Trump on RD funding.

May 30, 2017

The Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, D.C. 20006

Cc:          The Honorable Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget

                The Honorable Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

Dear President Trump,

We write today to raise concerns about your budget request to cut Farm Bill programs by $231 billion and to dramatically reduce or eliminate rural development programs within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). These proposed cuts, combined with USDA’s reorganization plan, which would abolish the Under Secretary of Rural Development at USDA, would have significant negative impacts on rural America.

Small towns and rural communities embody many of our nation’s greatest strengths, and the people of these communities deserve every opportunity to raise their families with well-paying jobs and a high quality of life. Our small towns and rural communities, however, experience unique challenges in developing and maintaining infrastructure and providing high-quality health services and education. Understanding and responding to these unique challenges to help these communities create jobs and drive economic growth is the principal mission of USDA Rural Development.

Unfortunately, the fiscal year 2018 budget proposes drastic cuts to USDA Rural Development that undermine its ability to serve rural America. Although we are deeply concerned with many other aspects of the USDA budget, the focus of this letter is limited to USDA’s rural development mission. These reductions would undermine the ability of local communities to support rural home ownership; provide clean drinking and waste water systems; and promote access to critical services such as rural hospitals, police, and firefighters. If enacted, these cuts would have a damaging impact on rural communities throughout the country.

For example, zeroing out the USDA funding for water and wastewater infrastructure projects leaves small communities without access to the federal funds needed to address the $2.5 billion backlog for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage waste disposal, and emergency water assistance. Eliminating USDA’s small business programs leaves businesses with less access to capital, educational opportunities, entrepreneurial training, and technical support.  These programs have been credited with saving almost 800,000 jobs and have helped finance more than 107,000 businesses since 2009. And finally, the budget proposal jeopardizes critical rural broadband health service grants that provide communities with additional tools to help provide access to education and rural health care, including battling the opioid epidemic.  Simply put, cuts to these programs hinder the ability of rural America to see economic growth and development.

These cuts, coupled with the recently announced USDA reorganization, deepens our concern that the decisions made by this Administration will harm small towns and rural America.  While we applaud the establishment of an Under Secretary for Trade as required by the 2014 Farm Bill, we are concerned with the planned elimination of the Under Secretary of Rural Development. USDA officials have made it clear that there is no legal requirement to eliminate any of the Under Secretary positions at USDA in order to create an Under Secretary for Trade. Both agricultural trade and rural development functions at USDA deserve and require high-level, accountable, and singularly focused leadership to ensure their missions success. We do not believe that enhancing agricultural exports has to come with a demotion for the rural development activities.

Additionally, we are disappointed that USDA plans to implement the reorganization even before public comments are due, suggesting that USDA has no real plan to consider these comments and make any changes based on the comments.  USDA must carefully consider all comments received before the proposed reorganization is actually implemented.

We will continue to fight for rural America by rejecting these budget cuts, and we ask that you reconsider USDA’s plan and maintain the Under Secretary for Rural Development.  We believe that if we can work together, we can find a better way to respond to the unique needs of America’s small towns and rural communities.

We look forward to working with you and your Administration on these critical issues.


The letter was signed by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Angus King (I-Maine), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule: 2 PM CDT June 1

Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule: 2 PM CDT June 1 Register Now

This webinar will review the Stage 1 Rule and the steps systems were required to take to move into the State 2 Rule. It will discuss the Initial Distribution System Evaluation options, compliance schedules, the final report and moving into the required compliance monitoring requirements.

About the Presenter
Dale Barrie has worked in the water and wastewater industry since 1975 beginning his career with his hometown of Gilbert. In 2004 he retired as the general manager of the Winterset Municipal Electric & Water Utilities and began work with the Iowa Rural Water Association providing onsite technical assistance to water systems in the state. Barrie is currently the as the Western Iowa Circuit Rider and has also served as the Training and Technical Assistance Specialist for IRWA.

Rural Water Assists Arizona Wastewater Plant with Bulked Sludge

TIERRA GRANDE, Ariz. – When the Wastewater Plant in Tierra Grande, Ariz. had bulked sludge interfering with the hydraulics of the system, they contacted the Rural Water Association of Arizona for assistance.

“The sludge had accumulated on the inlet side of the clarifier’s inlet baffled wall,” said Nathan Long, an EPA Wastewater Program Training Specialist with RWAA. “The system was short-circuiting through the open area in the baffled wall into the primary aeration basin.”

Bulking is common in small systems, especially when flow rates get low and the solids begin to settle out.

“This accumulation creates anaerobic layers of sludge that will continue to build up into think biomass unless it is physically removed,” Long explained.

Long probed the bulked sludge and found areas of accumulation as much as 12 feet thick and four feet wide. The first step to returning the wastewater plant to normal operation was to remove these massive layers of accumulated sludge in the baffled zone.

After removing the sludge, the next step would be to make repairs and upgrades to prevent the sludge from accumulating again.

“The baffled zone has an air diffuser that should keep solids in suspension during periods of low flow rate,” Long said. “The installed diffuser is not operating.”

Long also recommended installation of additional air diffusers that can be run continuously or on a preventative maintenance schedule.

“A major item that needs to be functioning correctly is the baffle zone’s scum trough,” Long said.

The scum trough provides a mechanism to return bulked sludge to the treatment process instead of accumulating or short circuiting into the aeration basins. The combined improvements should return the plant to normal operations and directly reduce the amount of solids that are pumped from the facility every year.

“I will be available for future discussions,” Long said. “As well as be there to help with any work needed to accomplish these goals.”

NRWA Hosts Live Chat on ServLine Water Loss Insurance June 14

DUNCAN, Okla. – The National Rural Water Association hosted a live chat on the ServLine insurance offered as part of the association’s Products and Services Portfolio at 2 p.m. CDT on June 14. Utilities interested in learning more about how ServLine protects systems and customers from financial loss can log in to ask questions and discuss options. Those interested can sign up for an e-mail reminder below.

ServLine is a new and unique insurance program that will cover water lost with no deductible, repair or replace a customer’s water and sewer line in a timely fashion. It is designed exclusively for water systems to protect both the utility and customers from financial loss.


Live Blog ServLine Line Break Insurance Conversations

Sustainable Utility Management: 12p.m. CDT May 25

Sustainable Utility Management: 12p.m. CDT May 25  Register Now

Everyone talks about the importance of sustainability these days. But what does that word really mean for water and wastewater utilities? The Workshop in a Box is a collaborative effort between USDA and USEPA. The Workshop gives you the tools to assess your strengths and weaknesses using the Ten Attributes of Effectively Managed Utilities. The Cliff Notes version of the Ten attributes can be found at http://www.watereum.org/resources/interactive-primer/ten-attributes/. We will discuss the attributes and walk you through any easy way to see your utility’s strengths and weaknesses. The webinar will also teach you how to develop an improvement plan and an action plan to address the weaknesses you identify. All materials used in the webinar are available at https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/services/sustainable-management-tools.

About the Presenter

Amy Swann