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.

NRWA’s In-Service Training Keeps Rural Water as Leader in Water Industry Expertise

NEW ORLEANS, La. – The National Rural Water Association held their annual In-Service training event June 26-29 in New Orleans, La. This annual event is for Rural Water staff to get the training and education necessary to remain the foremost experts in the water industry.

“This is one of my favorite meetings,” said NRWA CEO Sam Wade, “because this meeting is about improving ourselves.”

During the opening session, NRWA President Steve Fletcher also spoke about the organization’s continued support for the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service. The RUS has been making low-interest loans to build and upgrade water and wastewater systems for 70 years, but recent budget proposals would eliminate the program. NRWA recently launched a site to highlight the impact of the USDA program on Rural Utilities.

“My utility would not exist without this program,” said Fletcher, who worked for 35 years as an operator and a manager for the Washington County Water Co. in Illinois.

Some of the training at this year’s in-service include Cybersecurity Awareness presented by the Automation Federation and a two-day session on Soil Heath and Water presented by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

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.

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.

Learn more about the impact of USDA’s Rural Utilities Service