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.

 

 

 

 

Nebraska Rural Water helps Ashland with sustainability


ASHLAND, Neb. – The City of Ashland, Neb. has been looking for ways to save money and improve the function of their water utility. Now, with the help of the Nebraska Rural Water Association, the system started to progress toward their goals.

“The training has reinforced what we were trying to do,” said Bill Torpy, Ashland public utility director. “It has added structure to what we were trying to do before and given us some direction on how to achieve our goals.”

Torpy and his assistant, Rob Josoff, attended an Effective Utility Management session that Patrick Peterson presented in Wahoo, Neb. Ashland, a city of 2,400 between Omaha and Lincoln, has actively pursued ways to save money and electricity in their water and wastewater operations.

“We’re very energy conscious, despite the cost of electricity being very-reasonably priced in this part of the world,” Torpy said.

One of the major concerns is the city’s wastewater facility. The system relies on a screening process to eliminate sludge from wastewater, but it has been largely ineffective.

“It takes 30,000 gallons of water to run the screening process, and a lot of sludge remains,” Torpy explained. “We’re hauling off the remaining slurry in a tractor to some city-owned farmable land so it can be incorporated into the soil.

“Every step of the process is costing us money.”

Ashland has plans to move to a reed bed system to absorb the wastewater. The plan has support, but it will be nearly a year before they can begin work.

“The budgeting process here starts in October and the class was in October,” Peterson explained. “It’s still very early in the process for the wastewater plans, but they are already starting to see some benefits from their new VFDs.”

Torpy was able to use earlier commitments to purchase Variable Frequency Drive systems for several pumps in the water utility. These VFDs adjust the amount of electricity used to drive pumps, saving electricity by matching the level of energy to the amount of work required.

“We’re starting to realize some cost savings and we’re even seeing less breakage in the distribution system,” Torpy said. “It looks like the soft start of the VFDs is creating less hydraulic pressure and reducing the strain on the pipes.”

Ashland plans to expand use of VFDs to all aspects of their utility. In addition to the wastewater changes, the city also plans to replace aging water mains. Many of those plans will be aided by the city’s relationship with rural water.

“We find Nebraska Rural Water very helpful in many ways,” Torpy said. “They provide great training and they’re a real go-to resource for us.”

Hilton speaks at SDWA 40th anniversary forum


hiltonWASHINGTON, D.C. – National Rural Water Association President Charles Hilton spoke during a celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act held on Dec. 9th at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The event was hosted by a collection of water organizations, including the American Water Works Association, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, the National Association of Water Companies, and the National Rural Water Association.

“I was in the industry when both the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act were implemented. I have experienced events that have profound effects on the health and safety of millions of Americans every day now and in the future, while both restoring and protecting our most precious resource, our water,” said Hilton, who is the general manager of the Breezy Hill Water and Sewer Company in South Carolina.

The Safe Drinking Water Act was enacted in 1974 as a means to ensure safe drinking water for the public. While many states had drinking water regulations, the SDWA was the first time the federal government had a way to create enforceable, nation-wide drinking water standards.

“In his signing statement of the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act, President Gerald Ford emphasized the most important precept of the Act for it to be judged successful;,” Hilton said.  “That precept was the idea of a partnership: a partnership beginning here in our nation’s capital, intermeshed with our 50 state governments, and ending in a place called Breezy Hill Water District that I manage – a partnership between the local community, state government, and finally the federal government.”

In many ways, the SDWA act lead to the creation of the National Rural Water Association. After the act, small water systems were faced with national standards that they often lacked the resources to meet, so they started forming associations with the goal of providing the necessary funding, training, and technical assistance to comply with the new regulations.

“The National Rural Water Association represents 30,000 of these small local communities,” Hilton said.  “Some are so small they are both governed and operated by unpaid volunteers.  Some are large enough to have professionals who lead the industry in technical, operational, and managerial skills.  But all 30,000 are committed to one end goal – they exist to protect the health of their respective communities by providing the safest water possible.”

In the 40 years since the law’s creation, the challenges have changed and grown more complex.

“Originally, I had written the remark that for the truly small systems, and even for systems the size of my system, our challenges are enormous,” Hilton said. “But while true, I immediately realized that every water system in our nation is equally challenged, some simply have more resources, but all are faced with the same problems.  Forty years ago preparedness meant having a repair clamp for every size of pipe in your system. Today we still have to have that clamp, but that is the easy part. The difficult problems are facing the Hurricane Katrinas and Superstorm Sandys; facing the fact that climate is changing and that we must prepare for droughts that we are experiencing now or the flooding that will occur elsewhere.”

Hilton took time to highlight the various partnerships that have helped rural water systems. Those include billions of dollars in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and both regulatory and financial assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“President Ford said in 1974, ‘I am pleased to say that we are moving ahead to confront these new problems threatening our drinking water.’  Forty years later we are still moving ahead,” Hilton said. “We have not reached our goal, but because of the individuals in this room, their organizations, and the involvement of our communities, we will overcome every challenge.”

Hilton’s speech was part of a day of events that included presentations from Peter Grevatt, Gina McCarthy, and Victor Kim of the EPA.