Rural Water Assists Flooded Communities


IMG_2065DUNCAN, Okla. –Responders from Louisiana Rural Water Association rush to build a berm of earth and plastic to protect a community’s wells from rising floodwater. It is only one example of Rural Water Associations in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas working to protect and restore water service for communities threatened by recent floods.

The flooding began after a slow-moving storm system dumped more than two feet of rain on the region. The huge influx of water caused numerous rivers to reach record heights, leaving nearly 6,000 homes damaged and five reported dead.

“I wish this 100-year flood would have waited another 100 years: It is total devastation for these small rural communities,” said LRWA Executive Director Patrick Credeur.

With rain totals rising, Rural Water immediately began contacting utilities to assess their situation. Response managers sorted systems experiencing flood damage or service interruptions according to severity and dispatched staff and equipment to provide assistance. In just two days, association staff in three states contacted over 100 systems.

The assistance provided by Rural Water ranged from planning flood response to supporting complicated repairs.

“Three water distribution systems had water mains blown out at creek crossings,” explained Mississippi Rural Water Association Executive Director Kirby Mayfield. “Those breaks were repaired with only minor disruptions in service.”

IMG_2070Mississippi Rural Water assisted in isolating and repairing water mains for the Lexie Water Association and McGee’s Creek Water Association in Tylertown and the M and M Water Association in Laurel. In Louisiana, Rural Water assisted the Town of Blanchard and the Hebert Water System by constructing berms. They assisted other communities by detecting leaks, repairing damaged water lines or decontaminating flooded water wells.

In many cases, though, all they could do was assist the utility in planning for their recovery once the flood waters recede, because the system is completely underwater and the entire community has been evacuated.

“The people in Louisiana continue to fight flood waters,” Credeur said. “Many have been displaced and will not be allowed into their homes for many days to come and possibly weeks.”

Rural Development regulation webinar scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern on March 14


Washington, D.C. – USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator Brandon McBride announced a new rule governing how Rural Development will review actions affecting natural, historic and cultural resources on March 2.

The rule, which takes effect April 1, applies to actions covered under the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Endangered Species Act and other important environmental requirements.

Rural Development is hosting a webinar, titled “New Environmental Regulations for Rural Development- Don’t Fear the NEPA,” to explain the new rule. The webinar will be held at 3 p.m. Eastern on March 14. Those interested can register Here.

The EPA Ground Water Rule from the Ground Up: 2 p.m. CST March 17 2016


The EPA Ground Water Rule from the Ground Up is scheduled for 2 p.m CST on March 17, 2016. Click Here to Register

On December 10, 2009, the Ground Water Rule went into effect.  Why another Rule? What does it do? Who is effected and how? Join us as we review the basics of the GWR and answers to these important questions. In addition, this webinar will review the GWR’s relationship with other rules, explore compliance issues, and discuss potential corrective actions.

Presented by Tom J. Bahun. Bahun is a Training Specialist for Maine Rural Water Association. He is a Certified Environmental, Safety and Health Trainer, holds a Maine Class IV Water Treatment and Distribution Operator license and a Grade 5 Wastewater Treatment Operator license. Tom has over 20 years of experience with training adults in workplace safety, emergency response and water/wastewater management and operations.

NRWA hosting 2nd Annual Water District Forum June 1-2


Finance Reg seminar 2nd Annual logoDUNCAN, Okla. – The NRWA is hosting the 2nd Annual Water District Finance and Regulatory Issues Forum on June 1-2, 2016 in Washington, D.C.

This forum is designed to identify the challenges facing water districts, their potential solutions and available resources as well as educate agency officials about district operations. Participants will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with legislative staff, regulators and funding agencies to discuss the unique challenges face water districts.

Formed in the early 60s, Rural Water Districts, have grown to become major participants in the protection of public health and of drinking water sources. They are a foundation of the rural economy. When many RWD were formed the sparsely populated sections of the nation were their primary service areas. Today, in many locations, these once rural areas are now urbanized and/or have merged smaller systems into their operations to provide sustainability of service to rural citizens. The make-up of large service areas, miles of pipe that transcends multiple counties, and the funding and regulatory structures designed primarily for municipal operations, now present unique funding and regulatory challenges for rural districts.

More information is available at https://nrwa.org/waterdistrictforum/

SDWA Compliance Issues for the US Territories: 4 p.m. CST Feb. 25, 2016


SDWA Compliance Issues for the US Territories had been scheduled for 4 p.m. CST on Feb. 25, 2016. Register Now

This webinar will explore the unique challenges of Safe Drinking Water Act compliance for territorial utilities. Systems in the Territories often must provide service to dispersed rural communities with limited employment opportunities and a low tax base. Rural water has a long-standing relationship with these systems, providing technical, managerial, financial and emergency response assistance.

Presented by Mahana Gomes, executive director of the Hawaii Rural Water Association.

Glenbrook, Nev. Named Best Tasting Water in the Country

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IMG_9537WASHINGTON, D.C. – With a cheer of celebration, officials from the Glenbrook Water Cooperative in Glenbrook, Nev. walked to the stage to accept the Gold Medal Award at the Great American Water Taste Test. Glenbrook was selected by a panel of judges at the GAWTT finals at noon on Feb. 10 in Washington D.C.

The Consolidated Rural Water and Sewer District #1 of Jefferson County from Hastings, Okla. won the Silver Award, with the City of Emporia, Kan. earning Bronze. The Northwest Dyersburg Utility District in IMG_9535Dyersburg, Tenn. and the City of Scottsbluff, Neb. completed the top five. A panel of preliminary judges selected the five finalists from entries submitted from across the nation. Only utilities that had won their state drinking water taste test were eligible to submit samples for the national competition.

Rural Utility Service Administrator, Brandon McBride, Assistant Administrator for Water and Environmental Programs, Jacki Ponti-Lazaruk, RUS Senior Advisor Titilayo Ogunyale, Director for Rural
IMG_9532Development’s Water Programs Division, Kent Evans, and USDA Engineering and Environmental Staff Director, Kelli Kubena served as the final judges.

Judges rated each water sample based on its clarity, bouquet and taste.
Watch a recording of the entire Taste Test.

GAWTT Photo Gallery

Watch the Great American Water Taste Test live at Noon Eastern


NRWA will stream the Great American Water Taste Test Live from Washington D.C. at Noon Eastern. Viewers can watch the stream on this page or by Clicking Here.

A recording of the event should be available immediately after the stream is completed. Viewers will also have access to a live chat feature that allows them to interact with the event.

NRWA Opens 2016 Rural Water Rally

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A packed crowd greeted Congressman Tom Cole and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack with standing ovations during the opening of the National Rural Water Association’s annual Rural Water Rally today in Washington D.C.

Cole, a Republican representative from Oklahoma, praised the quality of Rural Water programs and the “bang for the buck” they provide. He warned, however, that growing federal deficits were forcing Congress to make difficult spending choices.

“The programs that you’re interested in, again, these are high value for low cost,” he said. “It shouldn’t be something that we have to struggle for, but we do because entitlement programs keep squeezing out discretionary spending.”

Congressman Cole insisted that Congress and the next President would have to make hard choices about issues like Social Security, the deficit and the tax code. He added that they would have to make those choices without limiting critical programs, like those that support clean drinking water.

“The people in Flint, Mich. can tell you that if someone isn’t doing this job, the consequences of it are terrible,” Cole said.

IMG_9505Secretary Vilsack also spoke about budget difficulties, though his remarks explained how funding choices, even within the same department, could impact other programs.

“One of the challenges is budget,” Vilsack said. “You may not think that your situation is related to the Forest Service budget, but it is. When we increase spending on fire suppression, it means we have to reduce resources and investment in another part of our budget.”

The secretary explained that the challenge was not just encouraging Congress to fully fund the water programs, but to also fix the fire budget. In response to the demands of the tightening budget, USDA started an effort to recruit investment banks and pension funds to invest in rural water projects.

Vilsack’s speech did not focus on the challenges Rural Water faced, but explained why it was important to preserve and promote rural America. He explained that unemployment is slightly higher in rural areas and that poverty is more persistent – 85% of persistent poverty counties are rural counties.

“Rural America is not just the place where we get our food, not just the place almost all the feedstock for the energy we consume comes from, it’s also the place where a disproportionate number of our men and women serving the military come from,” Vilsack said.

More that 44 percent of military recruits come from rural communities. Vilsack believes that rural young people are not enlisting only to find economic opportunity, but because of a value system in rural America.

“People who work the land understand that you have to give something back,” he explained. “It’s a value worth keeping.”

NRWA President Charles Hilton opened the Rally by recounting how the community of Breezy Hill SouthIMG_9485 Carolina started a water utility in 1968 with a $500,000 loan. At first, that system served 297 taps, but it has grown to service 5,500 customers and is valued at over $10 million. That water system, in Hilton’s hometown, has also brought in over a billion dollars in economic development.

Hilton reminded the gathered utility professionals that their voice was what had made Rural Water so successful.

“National Rural Water has no power or credibility on its own,” he explained. “It is through the grass roots efforts of our members that we have been successful.”

Rally Photo Gallery

Support Rural Water using #highqualityh2o


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Rural Water Association will begin their annual Rural Water Rally today in Washington, D.C., gathering members from across the country to advocate for water system funding and affordable water regulations. You can help show your support for the goals of clean, reliable and affordable water, even if you couldn’t make the trip to Washington.

NRWA’s #highqualityh2o gives everyone an opportunity to voice their support for Rural Water and its efforts to provide clean drinking water, protect our environment and support small communities. The association is asking supporters to post or Tweet why they support Rural Water and include the hashtag #highqualityh2o.

For Example:

Rural Water ensures my family has clean, affordable drinking water. #highqualityh2o

Posted by Chris Wilson on Friday, February 5, 2016

 

Get more information about how you can participate in the social media campaign at nrwa.org/rally/

NYRWA finds Houghton leak over Holiday


HOUGHTON, N.Y. – The holiday’s typically come with a change of pace – business slows down, employees take vacation and college students move back home. That slowed pace make the holidays a perfect time for utility repairs.

On December 30, the New York Rural Water Association received a call from David Stenzel, Superintendent of the Caneadea, Houghton Water District. The district served a population of just over 2,000, including Houghton College, a small Christian liberal arts college. The utility had a leak in a 10-inch cast iron water main that needed to be located. It was suspected the leak was under a major intersection.

“Pinpointing the leak was critical, due to the size of the intersection and its proximity to the collage and a nursing home,” explained NYRWA Circuit Rider Fred Holley.

Holley and Stenzel began working on New Year’s Eve, working to locate the leak. They were able to narrow the location to a four by eight foot area of the intersection. Holley’s assistance prevent the utility from having to excavate a larger area, causing greater cost and service disruption. We help from NYRWA, the repair was completed without blocking any traffic, or breaking anyone’s holiday plans.

“The job was done by noon and we were all able to enjoy the holiday with our friends and family,” Holley said.