Rural Water Assists City When Water Tanks Run Dry

WHITE BIRD, Idaho – When their water tanks suddenly went dry, the City of White Bird, Idaho called the Idaho Rural Water Association for assistance.

“They thought there must be a big leak somewhere,” said Kevin McLeod, an IRWA Circuit Rider. “They said the water just disappeared.”

McLeod gathered some tools and equipment, then drove to White Bird.

“I contacted Kevin that morning and explained to him our situation,” City Clerk Sandra Murphy explained in a letter. “He was here on the ground within hours, bringing with him specialized equipment and years of experience.”

McLeod spoke with the Mayor, Clerk and Water System Operations Specialists, and looked over the utility’s maps and documents. He examined the wells, which were working but produced very little water.

“We decided to close everything off, so the tanks would fill enough to conduct leak detection,” McLeod said.

They next day, McLeod and White Bird examined all the system’s valves and started searching for the leak. McLeod activated IdWARN, a mutual support network that allows rural water systems to aid each other. Volunteers from neighboring systems came to assist the effort and potable water trucks began hauling in water to help refill the White Bird tanks.

“I was impressed with the locals and their willingness to assist,” McLeod said. “Even a retired operations specialist who just happened to be in town that joined the effort for a few days.”

After a day of leak detection, they could not locate the leak and the tanks had run dry again. McLeod located an air compressor and started pressure testing the system to search for the leak. The next day, they finally located the leak in a fire hydrant. The leak was estimated to be at least 70 gallons per minute.

“The valves for that hydrant must have been closed, because I was connected to it before,” McLeod said.

Once the leak was repaired, they chlorinated and flushed the system. Tests revealed there was no contamination, and the city’s boil order could be lifted.

“I cannot express enough gratitude for Kevin’s over-the-top, quick response and his hard work in finding us a solution,” Murphy said. “I really believe that having IRWA and the IdWARN system was crucial to our success in restoring drinking water to our beloved town.”

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WVRWA leak detection saves community $3,000 per month

JUNIOR, W. Va. – When the Town of Junior, W. Va. noticed usage had increased by 35,000 gallons per day, they contacted the West Virginia Rural Water Association for assistance.

“We started isolating parts of the system,” said Bertis McCarty, a WVRWA Circuit Rider. Circuit Riders are roving water system experts that provide training and technical assistance to small utilities.

Isolating the system allowed McCarty and Mark Shiflett, Field Supervisor for the Town of Junior, to narrow the leak to a general area of town. They checked ever water meter in the area to isolate the leak’s specific location.

“Mark fixed the leak and asked that I return to locate more,” McCarty said.

McCarty returned a week later and assisted Shiflett in locating more leaks. They located another large leak at the end of a line. The leak was under a road and water was not rising to the surface.

The leak repairs prevented water losses as high as 24 gallons per minute, saving the community $3,000 per month.

Registration Open for NRWA’s 2018 Rural Water Rally

DUNCAN, Okla. – The National Rural Water Association opened registration, today, for the 2018 Rural Water Rally, which will be held Feb. 5-7 in Washington, D.C . Registration, housing and other 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.

An early registration discount will be available until Jan. 18, though registration will be available on-site and online.

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.

Rural Water Helps Bring System into Compliance After Valve Problem Leads to Contamination

PAISLEY, Ore. – When a problem with a valve in Paisley, Oregon’s new treatment plant lead to high levels of arsenic, experts from the Oregon Association of Water Utilities helped locate the problem and bring the drinking water back into compliance.

Paisley had a history of arsenic levels that exceeded the regulated Maximum Contaminant Levels. To bring the arsenic levels within the MCL, the utility had installed an arsenic treatment facility, but it wasn’t performing as expected.

“They put the plant on-line and met the MCL for a couple of weeks, but it never got it low enough again,” explained Heath Cokeley, an OAWU Circuit Rider.

The new pressure vessel filtration system adds iron to the water and then runs water through a system of pressurized metal containers lined with layers of filtration media.

“Arsenic is extremely small, it’s very difficult to filter out,” Cokeley said. “So, we like to attach it to something to like iron and filter the larger molecule.”

Cokeley examined the plant and relevant design and specification documents. He compared those to plant logs and information from Duane Young, the Paisley System Operations Specialist. He determined an improper valve was creating problems later in the process.

“The levels were very inconsistent and they were losing filter media, which was a strong indication it was a valve,” Cokeley said.

The issues occurred during the plant’s backwash cycle. All filtration systems have a backwash cycle that flushes the filters and prevents them from becoming saturated. Too much flow during this cycle would wash out filter material and degrade its quality, while too little would allow the filter to become saturated and unable to remove further contaminates. This series of flow problems was traced to a single valve.

“A lower quality valve, something more suited to irrigation, was installed and it was a gate-style valve,” Cokeley said. “The problem is that gate valves can open and close under pressure.”

Cokeley suspected that the inconsistencies were caused by the gate valve opening too much or too little during operation. The Circuit Rider assisted in replacing the valve with a higher-quality, butterfly valve. Cokeley and OAWU Training Specialist Scott Berry helped train the staff on the plant operations with the new, appropriate valve.

“We had to go back to the drawing board and do the math on the appropriate chemical dosing,” Cokeley said.

The plant has been performing well since the assistance, with the drinking water testing below the MCL and, at times, well below the required limits.

The Treatment of Disinfection By-products with Granular Activated Carbon: 2 PM CST Dec. 7

The Treatment of Disinfection By-products with Granular Activated Carbon: 2 PM CST Dec. 7 Register Now

This webinar will discuss the use of granular activated carbon to help manage disinfection by-products in your system.

The webinar will also provide an introduction to activated carbon, and will include information about:
• Disinfection By-products
• What they are, how they are formed, and why they occur;
• Removal technologies;
• Removal via GAC; and
• Precursor removal as well as removal of formed DBPs.
• Emerging Disinfection By-products and their impact on water quality
• EPA’s comments from the third 6 year review regarding potential future regulation and areas of concern.

Rural Water Assists Community after Water Tank Freezes, Saves $30,000

RAMSEY, Mont. – When sub-zero temperatures froze a riser pipe, the Ramsey County Water and Sewer District contacted Montana Rural Water Systems for assistance.

“We were working in 35-below weather and trying to find people to help in this emergency,” Ramsay Secretary Gayle Hunt said in a letter. “Although the people of Ramsay had sufficient water, we did not have a reserve in case of a fire.”

Nick Clos, a MRWS Circuit Rider, arrived the same day and began evaluating the situation. Circuit Riders are roving water system experts that provide training and technical assistance to the water systems in their area.

“The way the pumps were running, it showed the elevated tank had been frozen for two or three weeks,” Clos said.

The Circuit Rider used a pair of fire hydrant relief valves to bypass the frozen tank, allowing the system to supply water until the line thawed and could be repaired. He also adjusted the pumps to fit the new conditions.

“Nick demonstrated his work ethic and professionalism,” Hunt said. “He brought equipment and helped set it up. He made suggestions of where we could go for possible emergency funding, which proved to be extremely important.”

The assistance is estimated to have saved the community $30,000.
“We can’t tell you how much we appreciated Nick’s help,” Hunt said. “The District has learned many lessons and without Nick’s help we would never have known how to proceed.”

Sutherland Springs, Texas Tragedy Touches “Rural Water Family”

We often refer to our industry as the “Rural Water Family”. When disasters and/or tragedy strikes one of us, it affects all of us. The tragedy in Sutherland Springs, Texas has touched the Rural Water Family.

The Sutherland Springs Water Supply Corporation is a member of the Texas Rural Water Association. In the wake of this tragedy, TRWA reached out to the general manager of Sutherland Springs WSC, Herb Williams. Mr. Williams tells a story of generosity, faith and hope that will touch every heart within “the family.” More than just our hearts and prayers are needed for this community. We know Rural Water will provide. Thank you for caring and sharing.

“We are comforted by the outpouring of calls and condolences from TRWA members for the members of our system and our community who were impacted by the tragic shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas. Our community is devastated by this tragedy. As names of the victims come in, we are saddened that each one is a member of our system, as well as friends, family members and school mates of many of our staff. Additionally, our system has a wonderful connection with this church and its community. One of the original organizers of our Water Supply Corporation was a deacon at this church and donated a well site and land to get the Corporation up and running back in 1971. His only payment for this generous donation was an agreement that this church would receive water from the Corporation at no cost. That agreement is still in effect to this day. As devastating as the events that played out yesterday morning are, it also makes us proud that one of our members of the Corporation, since 1995, was the hero who stopped the individual from causing more damage elsewhere.”

Herb Williams, General Manager

Sutherland Springs Water Supply Corporation

This area is very rural, and many in this community do not have the means to rebuild the church, pay for funeral costs or many other financial burdens that a violent crime of this magnitude would bring to any community. There is a local bank account set up that folks can donate to if anyone wants to help. If you would like to make a donation, you may send it to:

Commerce Bank of Texas
Benefit for First Baptist Church
PO Box 97
Stockdale, Texas 78160

Their phone number is 1-830-996-3125 if you would like wire information or other details. All donations will be used solely to assist the victims of this tragedy.

Thank you to the National Rural Water community for helping.

NRWA Partners with Department of Labor on Apprenticeship Program

DUNCAN, Okla. — The National Rural Water Association, the nation’s largest water utility association with more than 31,000 members, will hold a ceremonial signing in conjunction with the United States Department of Labor Nov. 14 at 3:30 p.m. local time on the rooftop of 101 Constitution Avenue NW, to launch a new nation-wide apprenticeship program.

The DOL will provide support for the NRWA as it continues to build the WaterPro Apprenticeship Program, which is set to become a nationally-recognized standard.

Twelve NRWA state affiliates will jointly make the announcement at training events held across the nation for water and wastewater operations specialists These states are already working with to register their programs with the NRWA’s national guideline standard. The announcement and events will commemorate National Apprenticeship Week 2017 and will highlight the need for a national water sector apprenticeship initiative.

CoBank, a cooperative bank serving agribusinesses, rural infrastructure providers and Farm Credit associations throughout the United States, will underwrite $250,000 to help establish the program.

It takes more than 380,000 highly-skilled water and wastewater personnel working to ensure the public supply of safe drinking water in the United States. Advancements in water treatment and supply technology have increased the skills and training required of this workforce. Water professionals are ultimately responsible for meeting stringent regulatory standards, replacing aging infrastructure, recruiting and training new operations specialists, and responding to and recovering from disasters.

The WaterPro Apprenticeship program will be tailored to the specific needs of water system operations specialists and wastewater system operations specialists.