Atlantic States assists Plainfield with Sustainability


Plainfield, Conn. – By chance another employee was on vacation, and Harrold Clarke had the opportunity to attend a sustainability workshop presented by the Atlantic States Rural Water Association. This training presented new ideas and provided motivation for Clarke and his utility, the Town of Plainfield.

“Plainfield is an old township in rural Connecticut,” explained Brad Steere, an ASRWWA Water Quality Specialist.

The water plant that serves the town was well-built, but it is old. Parts of the ageing utility need to be replaced or upgraded, but finding the necessary funding is always difficult.

“The biggest concern is that they operate on a shoestring budget,” Steere said. “Not a lot of people understand the lifecycle of utility equipment.”

“Pumps have a life expectancy.”

One of the benefits of attending the sustainability training was finding way to overcome these obstacles.

“He liked the training,” Steere said of Clarke. “Most of the guys in the field like to attend this training.”

Most of the systems attending the training suffer from the same problems. Many of them are already looking at sustainability and effective management, but the workshops help crystallize the concepts and provide direction.

One of Plainfield’s first steps is to get more of its citizens involved, and help educate them on the systems functions and needs.

“They really want to be more visible,” Steere explained. “They want to get the town involved and help them understand where their tax dollars go.”

The visibility program is part of a long-term effort to improve the utility and the service it provides. Plainfield is also beginning an asset management program and has started exploring the necessary upgrades for the utility.

McBride, New Rural Utilities Service Administrator, to Speak at Forum (updated)


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Brandon McBride, the recently appointed Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service has confirmed his participation in the District/Regional System Financing and Regulatory Forum that will take place June 2-3 in Washington D.C.

“This will offer attendees with the unique opportunity to meet directly with the Administrator and the RUS staff that manages and sets policy for loans and grants,” said NRWA CEO Sam Wade.

The forum will also include Directors from the EPA Drinking Water Office and the Waste Management Office.

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/.

NRWA announces Rural Water Impact Affinity Program


DUNCAN, Okla. – The National Rural Water Association has announced a new series of affinity programs to support small water and wastewater utilities across the country. These programs will be available through State Rural Water Associations as a benefit for their members.

“These affinity programs are part of NRWA’s primary mission to support our state associations,” said NRWA CEO Sam Wade. “These new programs will allow state association’s to provide new services and value to their members.”

One of the new affinity programs is Rural Water Impact.

Rural Water Impact is a service that builds and hosts websites for rural water and wastewater utilities. Rural Water Impact has an excellent reputation with a focus on customer service and meets the NRWA stringent standards established for a product and/or service to the 32,000 utility members of the Rural Water Association.

“Rural Water Impact is innovative with great design, easy updates and unlimited support for utility websites,” said Wade. “Customers today expect technology connections to their water and wastewater systems.  Rural Water Impact provides this technology at an affordable price with user friendly features and meets a growing need of the rural water membership.”

Information is available at www.nrwa.org/affinity. Utilities interested in these programs should contact their state association for more information.

NRWA Announces Data Breach Insurance Affinity Program


DUNCAN, Okla. – The National Rural Water Association has announced a new series of affinity programs to support small water and wastewater utilities across the country. These programs will be available through State Rural Water Associations as a benefit for their members.

“These affinity programs are part of NRWA’s primary mission to support our state associations,” said NRWA CEO Sam Wade. “These new programs will allow state association’s to provide new services and value to their members.”

One of the new affinity programs is Data Breach Insurance.

Data Breach Insurance provides protections in the case of a hacking or data breach event. Utilities are storing greater amounts of customer data and payment information. This data is subject to breach by hackers or disgruntled employees. Studies show that the average cost of a data breach is $201 per record.

“A data breach can be crippling for a utility, and very few have any protection against a breach,” Wade said.

The new coverage is designed specifically for water and wastewater utilities and is offered exclusively through NWRA and its state affiliates.

NRWA Announces Water Loss Insurance Affinity Program


DUNCAN, Okla. – The National Rural Water Association has announced a new series of affinity programs to support small water and wastewater utilities across the country. These programs will be available through State Rural Water Associations as a benefit for their members.

“These affinity programs are part of NRWA’s primary mission to support our state associations,” said NRWA CEO Sam Wade. “These new programs will allow state association’s to provide new services and value to their members.”

One of the new affinity programs is Water Loss Insurance.

“I know the sting of a water leak first hand,” Wade explained. “I had a leak that led to a $784 bill from my rural water district. I could have bought over 32 years of Water Loss coverage for the price of that single bill.”

The new insurance program was designed with input from utilities, creating coverage that protect both the system and the utilities against losses from service line breaks.  Surveys show that roughly half of utilities have a water loss forgiveness polices, resulting in lost revenue and spreading the cost for repairs across all customers. Those without forgiveness polices create huge bills for customers that suffer leaks.

This new water loss insurance policy provides additional repair options and protections against other costs. Information is available at www.nrwa.org/affinity. Utilities interested in these programs should contact their state association for more information.

Rural Water assists Mount Zion with water loss, finances


Mount Zion, W. Va. – Mount Zion had every chance to fail. The small West Virginia community was losing water to an improperly-installed distribution system, buried under old debt, and under investigation by the Public Service Commission. Instead of failing, though, Mount Zion is progressing toward financial stability and utility sustainability with assistance from the West Virginia Rural Water Association.

“It’s been really nice to see someone there who wants to do a good job and run a good utility,” said Amy Swann, Executive Director of WVRWA.

Patty Cottrell is Mount Zion’s system operations specialist, and she has been the motivation for the utility’s progress. Cottrell has taken advantage of rural water training and resources to start making the necessary improvements to the utility. The Effective Utility Management workshop provided direction and motivation that galvanized her efforts at the utility.

“She got a lot out of the group work, where you’re talking to other systems and realize that others have the same issues,” explained Swann. “The workshop helped her focus on what she needed to do.”

“I was on the road to some of the activities mentioned at the workshop, so it really encouraged me,” Cottrell said.

“She really seemed to seize the day,” Swann added.

Cottrell began by doing an assessment and review with the utility board, the county commissioners, employees and customers. The review helped identify the problems to be addressed and created the necessary support to make the necessary improvements.

“It was a great move,” Swann said. “I think it was really important to get the board and the county commissioners behind the plan.”

Mount Zion’s primary problem is water loss. The system buys water from another utility, which means that any water lost is an expensive product wasted.

“Unaccounted for water is a big problem,” Swann said.

The EUM training helped identify the problem and rural water is providing resources to ensure the issues are corrected.

“Rural water has provided man power to help us isolate sections of the system and check for leaks,” Cottrell explained.

The utility has also started working to address long-term financial problems.

“Mount Zion has been working through financial issues for quite some time,” Cottrell said.

“The district is catching up on old debt,” Swann explained. “For a long time they just didn’t have the money to pay their bills.”

The utility is also making progress in improving compliance and office procedures.

“Patty has been working with the Public Service Commission to ensure they comply with the appropriate rules,” Swann said. “They’re working to make sure they use the proper forms for starting and stopping service and for putting customers on a payment plan.”

Cottrell still has a great deal of work ahead to bring Mount Zion into sustainability, but she will have the resources of rural water available to make progress.

“We’re looking ahead at the next step,” Swann said.

“I feel like every resource rural water has is available to me, allowing us to maximize the value for our customers,” Cottrell said.

NRWA hosting Water District Forum June 2-3


bubbleflatsmallDUNCAN, Okla. – The NRWA is hosting a new event to assist water districts. The Water District Finance and Regulatory Issues Forum will be held on June 2-3, 2015 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.

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/

Easthampton, Mass has nation’s best tasting water


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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Easthampton Water Department from Easthampton, Mass. won the gold medal for best tasting water and the 16th annual Great American Water Taste Test, held as part of the Rural Water Rally on February 11th in Washington, D.C.

“I’m really proud of this,” Tom Newton, supervisor of Easthampton Water Works, told ABC News. “I’ve put 40 years of my life into this. I’m retiring this year. This is the victory lap.”

Newton says the water’s exceptional taste comes from its Ph.

“It’s very crisp,” he said. “It takes very little treatment.”

Easthampton water completed against water samples from across the nation in the areas of clarity, bouquet, and taste. Each state rural water association holds a drinking water taste test from among their members, and the winners of those competitions are eligible for the national taste test. Rogerson Water District from Buhl, Idaho won the silver award and City of Whittier, Alaska won bronze. Del Paso Manor Water District from Sacramento, Cal. and Francis City, Utah were the other five finalists.

The five finalists were selected from a preliminary round of tasting. A panel of special guest judges then selected the winners from the five finalists. This year’s guest judges included Jasper Schneider, acting administrator of the Rural Utilities Service, Chris Heggem, director of Coalition & Outreach for the House Ag Committee, and Daniel Ulmer, legislative assistant for Senator Thad Cochran.

Acting Administrator Honors States for Emergency Response


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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jasper Schneider, acting administrator of the Rural Utilities Service, honored three states during the NRWA Rural Water Rally in Washington, D.C.

“The administrator’s coin is really the highest award the administrator can bestow,” Schneider said.

He awarded coins to representatives from the state associations of Arkansas, Illinois, and Mississippi for their emergency response efforts after tornadoes struck each state, last year.

 

NRWA Opens 2015 Rural Water Rally


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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Rural Water Association opened the 2015 Rural Water Rally on February 10th with a ceremony that included speeches from NRWA President Charles Hilton, Congressman Robert Aderholt, and USDA Undersecretary of Rural Development Lisa Mensah.

Hilton, the NRWA President from South Carolina, began the rally by reminding the crowd about the power of association. As the nation grows, it has become a challenge for elected officials to maintain the close relationships they have with their constituents. By joining their voices in an association affords rural Americans a way to ensure their views are still heard and their needs still represented.

“We have associations in all 50 states,” Hilton said. “Never doubt the power of that.”

He also reminded the crowd of water professionals, that their work is the primary strength of the association.

“The National Rural Water Association is just a name without you,” Hilton said to the audience. “Your grassroots efforts and work in the field are what gives that name power.”

Congressman Aderholt from Alabama spoke about rural water driving rural economies.

“It’s something I have seen first-hand,” he said.

The congressman also detailed the programs and appropriations that have assisted rural communities and the future of those programs.

Undersecretary Mensah detailed how impressed she has been with rural water in her short time with rural utilities. She also sees President Hilton’s own water system, Breezy Hill Water & Sewer Company, as an example of USDA and rural water working together to benefit small communities.

“Just think, five people were able to get a loan that allowed them to bring water to an area of South Carolina, where there was none before,” she said. “What started as just 297 taps has grown into over 5,500 customers.”

After the opening session, water professionals from across the nation went to meet their Senators and Congressmen.