NRWA Praises New EPA National Approach to Improve Drinking Water Safety & Compliance

DUNCAN, Okla. – The National Rural Water Association, the largest community-based drinking water utility organization in the country, praises a July 24, 2017, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency policy to reestablish on-site assistance to the country’s over 46,000 small community drinking water utilities to help them comply with federal environmental regulations.

“Small and rural communities have the very important public responsibility of complying with all applicable federal regulations and for supplying the public with safe drinking water and sanitation every second of every day,” said Mike Keegan, NRWA Policy Analyst. “Most U.S. water utilities are small: 91% of the country’s 50,366 drinking water supplies serve communities with fewer than 10,000 persons. These small and rural communities rely on on-site technical assistance to operate their drinking water and wastewater systems responsibly, in compliance with myriad federal regulations and avoiding EPA fines. Small communities want to ensure quality water and stay in compliance – on-site technical assistance provides them the shared technical resources to do it. We appreciate Administrator Scott Pruitt’s new attitude to prioritize the policies that will result in a dramatic and measurable improvement in drinking water safety and compliance in rural America.”

EPA’s recent decision directs the agency to fund technical assistance through the Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act (PL 114-98), which was enacted on December 11, 2015. This is an important change in EPA policy; to reestablish “full-time” on-site-technicians that were eliminated in 2012 when Congress gave EPA discretion over the operation of the program.

On-site technicians are water treatment and EPA compliance experts that provide roving training and technical assistance to small and rural communities in need. This form of assistance is so effective because the technician can travel to communities to work with their unique treatment system and to personally educate the operations specialists, managers, mayors or other local officials. This level of assistance can only be provided by full time technicians, available to assist communities when they are in need, including nights, weekends and after natural disasters.

Five U.S. Senators wrote a letter encouraging Administer Pruitt to utilize the Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act. Senators Barrasso (WY), Heitkamp (ND), Enzi (WY), Duckworth (IL) and Boozman (AR) wrote:

“On-site technical assistance can equip small and rural communities with the resources they need to provide safe water to residents and businesses while also meeting drinking water standards. We believe this assistance is most effective when it comes from a trusted individual who is willing to travel directly to the community, has technical expertise to remedy the specific issue with existing treatment and infrastructure, and can be available on-site at any time. In December 2015, Congress unanimously passed and the president signed the Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act, which directs the EPA to provide on-site technical assistance in a manner that is most effective to small and rural communities. By following the authorities under the Act, we are hopeful on-site technical assistance can be reestablished in our states and ultimately make the program more effective and easier for the EPA to implement.”

The new EPA policy should result in the return of two on-site technicians in each state. These technicians will provide critical support to rural and small communities.

Colorado Rural Water Energy Assessment Leads to Energy Efficiency Upgrades

WILEY, Colo.– An energy assessment for the May Valley Water District led to energy efficiency upgrades that reduced the system’s pumping costs by 40%.

“We identified the opportunity to lower energy consumption by resizing and upgrading one of the water well pumps,” said Joe Kleffner, a Colorado Rural Water Association Energy Program Technician. “The existing pump was driven by a 20-horsepower motor, but we discovered that the required amount of water could be delivered with a 10-horsepower motor.”

Kleffner selected a high-efficiency Variable Frequency Drive motor, which would further increase energy savings. VFDs improve efficiency by operating at various speeds, where direct drives only operate at full power. The new equipment cost $5,785 and lowered energy costs by $3,900 annually. The original pumping costs of $1.30 per thousand gallons was reduced 40% to $0.88 per thousand gallons.

“The upgrades will pay for themselves in the first 18 months of operation,” Kleffner said.

The May Valley energy assessment will be one of the case studies discussed during the Energy Efficiency webinar at 2 p.m central on August 24. Click Here to Register. This webinar will also be simulcast on Facebook Live.

Asset Management Case Study of a Small/Rural System: 2 PM CDT August 17

Asset Management Case Study of a Small/Rural System: 2 PM CDT August 17  Register Now

An informative overview into how an the Town of Veedersburg, Ind. is utilizing an affordable and easy-to-use turnkey GIS solution to implement asset management and increase the sustainability of its water & wastewater systems.

Key takeaways

•             How to quickly & easily implement core asset management principles

•             Use of work orders for maintenance tracking

•             Linking digital media to assets and work orders

•             Updating and maintaining assets – live demo

About the Presenters:

Tony Shriner is the President of iamGIS. With an expertise in GIS and asset management, Shriner has spent the last twelve years assisting utility professionals in small and rural systems. He is the founder and President of iamGIS – a technology company that provides affordable and easy-to-use GIS/asset management software that anyone can proficiently use regardless of their background.

Dirk Garriott is the Town Manager of Veedersburg, Ind. and holds a Master’s degree in Public Affairs. Garriott is a certified water and wastewater operator, as well as, an FAA licensed drone pilot. He oversees the daily operations of the electric, street, water & sewer departments for the Town of Veedersburg.

Missouri Rural Water Assists Community After Leaks Drain System

PUXICO, Mo. – When the manager of Wayne/Butler County #4 started getting late-night calls from customers without water, she knew she needed help. Assistance from the Missouri Rural Water Association helped locate the leaks and restore water service.

“I got the call at around 10 p.m. that night,” explained Brad Rayburn, a MRWA Circuit Rider. “They had customers without water and the towers were empty.”

Rayburn met with General Manger Jennifer Pierce and operations specialist Jason Pierce to provide assistance. The system’s two 150,000 gallon towers had emptied in just a few hours, leaving 700 customers without water.

Rayburn and Jason Pierce went to the well house to check the pumps.

“One of their wells was hit by lightning the month before and the motor had to be replaced,” Rayburn said. “They had problems with the wells not turning on when they should.”

After a few hours in the well house, Rayburn and Pierce determined that the pumps were working properly.

“That meant they had a major leak somewhere,” Rayburn said.

With the darkness becoming a problem, they decided to break and resume work in the morning.

The next day Rayburn and Pierce started looking for the leak. The conditions made locating the leak extremely difficult – there was no water in the system and there had been recent heavy rain in the area.

“The system had over 200 miles of pipe, and several miles were only accessible by foot,” Rayburn said. “it was difficult to locate without water in the system.”

Leaks are typically located by looking for water seeping to the surface or using listening equipment to detect the sound of the leak. Rayburn and Pierce decided to try to isolate part of the system, which would allow them to narrow the search area and restore service to part of the community.

“The system was split in two parts: north and south,” Rayburn said. “The district has an emergency well and a boost up station that allowed us to direct the water to either side.”

After a few hours, the north part of the district began to fill, indicating the leak was in the south. Rayburn directed the water into the south end.

“Once we got some water in the pipes I could use the leak detection equipment to listen for the leak,” he explained.

Rayburn and Pierce located the leak in an eight-inch water main. The Circuit Rider remained to assist with the repair.

“It was a lot more difficult than putting a clamp around the pipe,” Rayburn said. “The main was split and the entire 20-foot section had to be replaced.”

The repair lasted until nearly midnight. When the pipe was replaced, they returned to the well house, activated the pumps and waited for the towers to fill.

“We waited and waited and waited, but the tower never filled,” Rayburn said. “I thought the repair didn’t hold.”

They checked the repairs, but everything had held. Rayburn started listening to valves again, and determined there was another leak somewhere in the system. Facing the challenge of locating another leak at night in the large system, they decided to return and repair the second leak the next day.

Jennifer Pierce contacted the Red Cross to bring a pallet of bottled water for customers still without service. Rayburn and Jason Pierce located another split eight-inch water main. After another repair, they returned to the well house to reactivate the pumps. There was only one more complication.

“We had to turn off the pumps because there was a tornado siren,” Rayburn explained. “Luckily there was no tornado.”

The tower levels finally began to rise and water service was finally restored to the community.

Watch Brian McManus from Texas Testify to House Ag Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Brian McManus from Texas testified on July 17 to the House Agriculture Committee on the state of infrastructure in rural America.

NRWA has two recordings of Sternberg’s testimony: one trimmed to only include remarks about Rural Water and a recording of the full hearing.

Watch Rural Water Highlights below:


Watch the full hearing below:


Click Here to learn more about USDA’s impact on Rural Infrastructure.

Are You Smarter Than a Circuit Rider? Registration Open for WaterPro Conference Game Show

DUNCAN, Okla. – Attendees at the 2017 WaterPro Conference will have a chance to prove their water and wastewater knowledge in the Are You Smarter Than a Circuit Rider game show. The live production will start at 2:45 p.m. on Monday Sept. 18 in the WaterPro Exhibit Hall.

Are You Smarter Than a Circuit Rider premiered at last year’s WaterPro Conference in Orlando. The game show was one of the most popular new additions to the conference, drawing hundreds of spectators and earning perfect reviews on conference surveys. HD Supply Waterworks will also return as the event sponsor and prize donor.

Four teams of two, one utility representative and one Rural Water staff member, will compete in two rounds of trivia on water and wastewater topics. The winning team will then square off in a lightning round to determine the first and second place finishers. The first-place prize will consist of a $7,000 gift certificate provided by HD Supply Waterworks which will go to that individuals state association. The second-place prize of $3,000 gift certificate will go to that individual’s state association.

Contestants will be drawn randomly at the beginning of the competition. Those who wish to participate must be a registered WaterPro Attendee and complete the registration form here.

If you missed Are You Smarter Than a Circuit Rider, watch a short clip of the 2016 contest.

Characteristics of Working with Tribal Utilities: 2 PM CDT July 27

Characteristics of Working with Tribal Utilities: 2 PM CDT July 27  Register Now

Tribal utilities possess unique characteristics developed form their specific cultural, political and economic backgrounds. Working with these systems requires both detailed knowledge of water and wastewater water operations, and experience with dealing with these unique cultural, political and economic characteristics. About the Presenter: Quintin Cox is a Training Specialist with the New Mexico Rural Water Association who specializes in working with Tribal Utilities.

NRWA Praises House of Representatives’ Proposal to Extend Drinking Water Service to Rural Communities

NRWA Praises House of Representatives’ Proposal to Extend Drinking Water Service Rural Communities

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Rural Water Association, the largest community-based water utility organization in the country, praises a new provision in the House Appropriations Committee Fiscal Year 2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. The committee passed the bill on July 12, 2017 and included a provision supported by NRWA to help rural communities struggling with their water infrastructure through development of regional partnerships with their neighboring communities who may have more resources.

The committee’s “Unserved and Underserved Rural Communities,” provision states, “The Committee recognizes there are unserved or underserved rural areas within the U.S. that lack the technical, financial, or managerial capacity to adequately operate, maintain or provide safe and affordable water and wastewater service necessary to protect and enhance the public health and economic vitality of their communities. It is noted that many contiguous and local utilities located outside the unserved or underserved service area have the capacity to provide sustainable, essential water and wastewater services to these areas. The Committee directs the Secretary to explore the potential of providing financial and other incentives to the local or contiguous utilities that have the demonstrated capacity and ability to provide essential water and waste water services to these unserved or underserved communities. The Secretary shall provide a report to the Committees on Appropriations of the House and Senate with findings and recommendations within 180 days of enactment of this Act.”

NRWA initiated a new effort to assist rural communities with regional solutions three years ago and has been convening an annual “Rural Water District Policy Conference” each year in Washington, DC.

“Our investment and innovation in advancing regional rural water solutions has paid off with this new emphasis and attention in Congress,” said NRWA’s Director of Legislative Affairs Bill Simpson. “NRWA has been leading the effort to advance workable regional water solutions thanks to the participation of regional water utility volunteers who attend our annual conference and set our policy and priorities. We support the concept and encourage these partnerships when it makes local economic sense because growing economies of scale result in lower cost to the consumer than operating independent water utilities. The key ingredient in any successful regionalization is local support for the regional concept – and local control of when and how they choose to regionalize. NRWA’s local members have led or assisted in more communities regionalizing their water supplies than any program, policy or organization.”

The House Appropriations Committee fiscal year 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill totals $20 billion in discretionary funding, including $473 million for USDA’s Water and Sewer Loan and Grant program that helps to construct water and wastewater infrastructure through grants and loans provided at reasonable rates and terms. Also, the bill includes $17 million for technical assistance Circuit Riders, who are experts to travel directly to small and rural communities to help ensure compliance with current water regulations, operations, maintenance, management, and training.

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

Independence Day Celebrations Would Look Much Different Without Rural Water

Independence Day Celebrations Would Look Much Different Without Rural Water

Tomorrow, people across the United States will celebrate the founding of our nation, most with some combination of barbecue, parades, flags, family and fireworks. The Rural Water Family prides itself on both its love of country and dedication to community. The efforts of the water industry often go overlooked, but before this holiday season, take a moment to consider that our Independence Day Celebrations would look much different without Rural Water.

One of the hallmarks of Independence Day celebrations are fireworks displays. The American Pyrotechnics Association estimates that more than 14,000 professional firework displays light the skies on July 4. Another 238 million pounds of amateur fireworks are launched from backyards, parks and streets across the country. The same water utilities that provide quality drinking water are also the primary source of water for fire fighters to combat the estimated 16,000 fires started by fireworks every year.

Benchmarks vary by jurisdiction, but one standard requires water systems be able to supply an extra 250 gallons per minute over the utility’s maximum daily rate, sustained for at least two hours. That’s the rough equivalent of the daily water use of the average house every minute. Rural Water professionals make roughly 30,000 on-site technical assistance visits annually, that include everything from hands-on repairs and leak detection to managerial assistance and rate studies. Rural Water also trains over 100,000 utility personnel every year to ensure communities can provide both the quality of water necessary for drinking and also the quantity needed for fire protection.

Many people will choose to celebrate Independence Day at a lake, river or outdoor location. AAA estimates that at least 42 million people will travel over 50 miles to celebrate Fourth of July, and many of them will do so at lakes and rivers. Lake Mead, by itself, is expected to host over 100,000 visitors for Fourth of July, according to the National Park Service.

The lakes and streams that host these Independence Day celebrations are protected by Wastewater Operations Specialists and Source Water Protection Specialists across the country. Wastewater treatment prevents gallons of waste and sewage from pouring into lakes, rivers and streams every day. Rural Water make roughly 20,000 on-site technical assistance visits a year to wastewater systems to help them maintain proper function. Rural Water Source Water Protection Specialists also created plans that provide additional protection from “non-point sources” that include runoff, drainage and seepage. These efforts help preserve the environment and keep lakes, rivers and streams safe for swimming, boating and fishing.

Rural Water also helps preserve the American cookout. Agriculture is one of the largest consumers of water and it is an industry overwhelmingly located in rural areas. Access to clean, reliable, and affordable water helps produce the 150 million hotdogs, 190 million pounds of beef and 700 million pounds of chicken consumed on Fourth of July.

The National Rural Water Association and all the Rural Water Family wishes everyone a happy and safe Independence Day celebration. NRWA hopes that you will also not forget the role that Rural Water plays in serving and protecting our communities on July 4 and every day of the year.