Hilton elected NRWA President

IMG_6550(crop)SEATTLE, Wash. – Charles Hilton from South Carolina was elected to serve as President of the National Rural Water Association on Wednesday, October 8th in Seattle, Wash.

Hilton was elected to the board of the South Carolina Rural Water Association in 1991 and to the NRWA board in 1999.

Hilton opened is inaugural speech by addressing the utility system operations specialist, managers, and board members in the audience.

“I look out on this crowd and I see operators and I see managers, I see board members, and the more that I have been involved in this, the more I realize you are the unsung heroes of America,” he said. “Nothing happens back home without you. And because you do your job so well – do it every day, 24-7, every week, every year – you are the unsung heroes. Economic growth does not come, you community cannot live without what you do each day. So I salute each one of you and say ‘thank you’ for what you do for rural America, for your towns and townships and communities back home.”

Hilton took time to thank those that have helped and supported his service on the NRWA board. Some of those included his wife Bobbie and his daughter Rachel, whose wedding was was only two days away. He also thank the board at the Breezy Hill Water & Sewer Co. who have supported his work with rural water, even though it took him out of the office. He also gave special mention to his assistant, Jeff Lowe, who manages the utility in Hilton’s absence.

“If I were not for this man, his integrity and his competence, and me knowing that he has my back, I would not be here tonight,” Hilton said.

Hilton also detailed the challenges he foresees for rural water.

“Secretary Vilsack of USDA said in December of 2012: ‘rural America is becoming less and less relevant.’ What did he mean?” Hilton asked. “We feed America we provide most of the military we provide most of the good things about the country, so what did that mean. It means that as more and more of the population shifts to the suburbs and exurbs around our towns, there are less and less of us that are speaking up.”

Hilton explained that the association had risen to meet challenges before, and that the secret to the association’s strength was in it’s local members.

“This organization is so strong because we are a grassroots movement,” he said. “What is that? That means people back home in the community get involved and get something done in this country. It’s not this board of directors or all the staff, it’s you back home.”

Hilton will serve a two-year term and will lead the association with the assistance of the NRWA Executive Board.

The NRWA Executive Board for 2015 will include:

President – Charles Hilton (SC)

Senior Vice President – Steve Fletcher (IL)

Vice President – Steve Wear (AR)

Secretary – David Baird (DE)

Treasurer – Kent Watson (TX)

At Large:

John O’Connell (NY)

Dusty Parker (OH)

Glen Womack (LA)

Immediate Past President Doug Anderton (GA)

Anderton named NRWA Man of the Year


SEATTLE, Wash. – Outgoing National Rural Water Association President Doug Anderton was named NRWA Man of the Year during the annual Tribute to Excellence awards ceremony on Monday, October 6th in Seattle, Wash.

“It’s not every year that we present the Man/Woman of the Year award,” said Awards Committee Chairman Kent Watson, an NRWA board member from Texas. “It is a prestigious award given to individuals who have dedicated their lives and their work to making Rural Water the best it can be.”

The Man of the Year award is presented to an individual or an organization that have gone “above and beyond” the normal scope of activities and support for Rural Water across America based on their loyalty, dedication and outstanding contributions to the Rural Water cause.

Anderton has worked in Rural Water since 1971 and during his career has served as a board member for his state association since 1990, serving on countless committees and as president.  He was elected to the NRWA board in 1999 and was elected president in 2012.

“He is active in his community, his church and his town, serving on local committees, several local boards and authorities,” Watson said. “He is married, has one daughter, a son-in-law and three grandchildren.”

Anderton served as an organizing director for the Citizens Bank & Trust, where he continues to serve on the board and as chair of the Loan and IT committees. He has served as chairman of the Dale County Industrial Development Authority and currently serves as vice-chair. Anderton has served as chairman of the Northwest Georgia Joint Development Authority and as a member of the Optimist Club. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and was named their Man of the Year in 1995.

“I feel blessed to be able to represent Georgia on the NRWA Board of Directors, and I am truely blessed to be voted Man of the Year by me peers,” Anderton said.

Anderton will continue to serve as Georgia’s representative on the NRWA Board of Directors and will serve on the Executive Board as immediate Past President.

WaterPro 2014 photo galleries

Check out all the great photos taken at the 2014 WaterPro Conference – award winners, exhibitors, speakers and attendee photos are shared in these galleries.  Seattle hosted one of NRWA’s most successful Annual Conferences ever!  Plan on attending WaterPro 2015 in Oklahoma City, September 28-30.


Florida wins Association of the Year; Anderton Man of the Year


SEATTLE, Wash. – The National Rural Water Association held its annual Tribute to Excellence awards ceremony as part of the WaterPro Conference on Monday, October 6th in Seattle, Wash.

The Florida Rural Water Association was named the Association of the Year.

“This Association endeavors to achieve as much as possible with the resources available for their membership which is over 2000,” said Kent Watson, NRWA director from Texas and chair of the awards committee. “Their Board of Directors, membership and a vast number of programs and services has positioned them to be very effective in their association mission for over 35 years.  With a staff of over 25 and a budget of near $3.5 million per year, they offer many services and programs to meet state water industry needs.”

Florida also won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Technical Assistance.

John Padalino was awarded a Friend of Rural Water Award, in recognition to his time with the Rural Utilities Service.

“A Friend of Rural Water for many years, our recipient was sworn in as Administrator of the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service, on June 12, 2013,” Watson said. “Before coming to RUS, he was Chief of Staff for former USDA Rural Development Undersecretary Dallas Tonsager.”

President Doug Anderton was also awarded the prestigious Man of the Year award.

“It’s not every year that we present the Man/Woman of the Year award.  It is a prestigious award given to individuals who have dedicated their lives and their work to making Rural Water the best it can be,” Watson said. “He’s worked in Rural Water since 1971 and during his career has served as a board member for his state association since 1990, serving on countless committees and served as their president, as well.”

The North Carolina Rural Water Association won awards for Outstanding Achievement in Communications, Publications and Public Relations and Outstanding Achievement in Training. The association’s new “Did you know” postcard campaign drew particular interest for its creativity and effectiveness.

“They recently started a postcard campaign that asks the question, “Did You Know Rural Water Provides…” and then insert a different message each month,” Watson explained.

The Rural Water Association of Utah won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Legislative Initiatives. Utah wrote their state’s legal definition of a Public Water System, allowing Private Non Profit systems to be treated more equally in the regulatory process.

“They participated in the writing and passage of the Rural Water Supply Act which facilitates the conversion of water to drinking water in Bureau of Reclamation projects,” Watson said.

The Alabama Rural Water Association won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Member Services.

“Alabama represents 90% of the permitted water and wastewater systems in their State, and there is no scenario in which their member system’s operation or management cannot be improved through the use of a free and always available member services,” Watson said.

Awards are selected from the 49 state associations that submitted applications. Each submission was evaluated and scored by members of the awards committee with the names and locations redacted to ensure anonymity. The members of the awards committee are Phillip Combs, Tennessee; Steve Fletcher, Illinois; Paul Fulgham, Utah; Lance Hoyt, Washington; Dannie McMillan, Colorado; and Henry Meyer, Atlantic States.

NRWA opens 2014 WaterPro Conference

openSEATTLE, Was. – The National Rural Water Association opened its 2014 WaterPro Conference during a ceremony on Monday, Oct. 6th in Seattle, Wash. Over 2,000 water and wastewater professionals from across the nation assembled for the open of the three-day conference.

Speeches this year focused on the beginning of rural water, the effort it takes to build an association, and the people that give associations their power.

“People working together for a common object have a tremendous amount of power,” said NRWA President Doug Anderton.

Anderton, NRWA’s director from Georgia, highlighted National Rural Water’s success in obtaining $40 million for its technical assistance programs, growing state associations, and changing EPA regulations. The association started from eight state associations in 1976 has grown to include associations in every state.

“NRWA now touches every congressional district in the United States,” Anderton said.

The association has grown because of the work of men who built water systems and associations where there was none before. Jim Dunlap in New Mexico, as part of a group of teachers and FFA students, started a water system to serve rural San Juan County. Until that time, the communities were served by shallow wells that were often contaminated by minerals and oil. Elroy Larimore helped start a water system in Horse Cave, Ken., motivated to supply clean water to the community after watching his mother wash clothes in a pond. These men, and many others not mentioned, went on to help establish the state rural water associations that make up the backbone of National Rural Water.

Other pioneers included R.K. Johnson of Oklahoma and Joe Palmer of Georgia. Clark Cronquist of North Dakota was instrumental in revising laws so that utilities would be able to repurchase their own loans, a change that has saved small utilities over a billion dollars.

The 2014 WaterPro Conference marks Sam Wade’s first year as the NRWA CEO. His remarks focused on his own beginnings in the water industry and a way of looking into the future.

“I was desperate for a job,” he said.

He looked for work for several days, before a gas station attendant told him of an opening in city maintenance. After meeting with the town council in the local café, despite having limited qualifications, he got his first job working in water.

“Systems of today are much different than in those days,” Wade said. “I couldn’t get a job today with so few qualifications. And the systems of tomorrow will be much different than those of today.”

Those changes have been important to improving the health and the economic strength of rural American and the nation as a whole.

“What’s good for rural water is good for rural America, and what’s good for rural America is good for our entire nation,” Wade said.

The opening session began with an invocation from Steve Wear, NRWA director from Arkansas. Nick Jackson, circuit rider and member of the South Dakota National Guard, posted the colors for the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem.

Lance Hoyt, NRWA director from Washington, welcomed guests to Seattle for the Conference.

The conference will run through Oct. 8 and include an exhibit hall and over 30 hours of educational sessions.

NRWA board honors Brayton


SEATTLE, Wash. – The National Rural Water Association Board of Directors recognized Paul Brayton, NRWA director from Florida, during their annual meeting Oct. 5th, 2014. Brayton has served on the NRWA Board since 1996, and is stepping down to pursue other interests.

Welcome to the new NRWA website!


We have redesigned our site to be more informative, user-friendly and functional.  I believe the new NRWA.org is a major step forward for the Association, and an important resource to connect water and wastewater professionals, utility system decision makers, State Associations, industry providers, regulators, and funding agency personnel.  Rural Water is a unique organization, filled with dedicated people who are passionate about their responsibilities.  State Associations are the nation’s leaders in providing training and technical assistance to help their members provide safe drinking water and protect America’s water resources.  I hope this site will give newcomers a glimpse of what the Association is all about, and will provide longtime friends with the information they need to continue to raise the bar as leaders across the nation.

This project is the first part of a larger plan to recreate our entire online presence.  The next step is already well underway – the WaterPro Online Community.  For now, clicking the link at the top right of this webpage will take you to a temporary site where you can sign up for email updates.  In spring of 2015, it will be a gateway to an interactive online resource for everyone interested in water.  The WaterPro Community will be a powerful networking tool, filled with dynamic content, where you can directly take part in our grassroots efforts to promote and protect our nation’s most important resource.

We invite you to take a look around the new site. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, we welcome your feedback.  This is YOUR Association – and we appreciate what each of you do every day to protect public health and the environment. Thank you!

OU to host Oklahoma Water Symposium

OU Water CenterNORMAN– Many people don’t worry about turning on a faucet for a glass of clean water, so it may be hard to imagine that clean water is a luxury for about one-sixth of the world’s population. In fact, the Water Technologies for Emerging Regions Center at the University of Oklahoma indicates that one child dies every 15 seconds because of a lack of clean water and adequate sanitation.

To help address this challenge, some of the world’s leading experts in water sustainability and sanitation will gather on Friday, Sept. 26 at the 2014 Oklahoma Water Symposium to discuss the latest research and share their experiences in bringing water and sanitation to remote areas of emerging regions. The symposium, hosted by the WaTER Center and coordinated through the College of Engineering’s School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science, will be from 9 a.m. to noon in the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation Auditorium, Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication on the OU Norman campus. The symposium is free and open to the public. The symposium will also be streamed online at http://gaylord3.ou.edu/water.

The panel will be comprised of six distinguished experts in a variety of water-related fields:

• Emmanouil Anagnostou, professor of civil and environmental engineering, Northeast Utilities Endowed Chair and director of the environmental engineering program at the University of Connecticut
• Braimah Apambire, director of the Center for International Water and Sustainability at the Desert Research Institute
• Rafael Callejas, executive director of the Millennium Water Alliance
• Jenna Davis, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Higgins-Magid Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University
• Pawan Labhasetwar, senior principal scientist and head of the Water Technology and Management Division at the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute in Nagpur, India
• Jan Willem Rosenboom, senior program officer in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Strategy at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

During the panel discussion, the OU WaTER Center will announce the recipient of the fourth OU International Water Prize. The prize recognizes and honors an individual or group that has made significant contributions in the field of water supply and sanitation, particularly for small villages and communities in rural or remote regions of the world. The 2012 winner was community development activist Ada Oko-Williams from Nigeria, Africa.

NRWA launching energy efficiency program

DUNCAN, Okla. – The National Rural Water Association will begin a new energy efficiency program designed to promote energy efficient practices in small water and wastewater systems.

“Energy efficiency in utilities is an important part of ensuring that rural communities are sustainable,” said NRWA CEO Sam Wade. “”Small water and wastewater systems can benefit significantly from upgrading equipment and changing operational practices.””

Funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agricultures Rural Utilities Service, the program will perform energy assessments, recommend energy-efficient practices and technologies, and provide support in achieving those recommendations. Technical support will include assisting with presentations to governing boards, accessing financing, training, and developing documentation.

The State Rural Water Associations in seven states, Colorado, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Texas, will conduct the program, completing 40 assessments in each state for a total of 280 total assessments. The assessments will be conducted by staff from the State Rural Water Associations with certifications in commercial energy auditing and experience in delivering training and technical assistance to water utilities. The NRWA is the nations largest utility membership association and, with its State Affiliates, trains over 100,000 water professionals every year.

“”Rural Water Association staff members are highly experienced in operating and managing water and wastewater systems, with an average of 23 years of hands-on expertise,” said NRWA Program Manager Brendan Murphy. “State rural water staff have established working relationships with the utility systems in the state, allowing them to prioritize and assists the systems that would benefit the greatest from lower energy costs.”

Because energy is one of the largest costs for water utilities, the program is expected to have substantial impact on operating costs, financial sustainability, and product affordability. The program will set a goal of at least 10% improvement in energy efficiency and will prioritize assessments toward utilities that serve populations living in poverty.

“Lower energy costs will allow these utility systems to focus their funds and efforts toward improving infrastructure and investing in a safer and healthier future for rural America,” Murphy said.

The program will begin July 1st and operate for one year.

USDA provides funding opportunities

Water and wastewater facilities are vital to the health, safety and economic success of rural communities. During fiscal year fiscal year 2012, the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development infrastructure investment has improved rural economies through delivery of vital utility services, creating jobs and building stronger communities that are better able to grow and attract new business.

During fiscal year 2012, RUS invested over $1.4 billion in 845 water and wastewater projects in rural areas nationwide. Not only is reliable access to clean water necessary for rural communities to grow and prosper, but the design and construction of rural utility systems brings jobs and economic growth.

Continuing the commitment made in 2011 to focus on funding the smallest, most economically-challenged communities, Rural Development invested $221 million in persistent poverty counties in 21 states during fiscal year 2012 to improve health, safety and economic viability in these areas. Over $38.5 million funded technical assistance and training activities. This investment in water and wastewater expertise provides rural communities with the skills and knowledge for sustainable systems.

Rural Development’s Water and Environmental Program is the only federal program exclusively dedicated to serving the needs of small rural areas. The absence of clean water is not just an obstacle to growth and economic development, but a threat to the very survival of rural communities. By addressing these challenges, rural water systems play a key role in growth and prosperity of their communities.

Program assistance is provided in many ways, including direct or guaranteed loans, grants, technical assistance, research and educational materials. Please check the links below for more information.

1. Direct Loans and Grants – To develop water and waste disposal systems in rural areas and towns with a population not in excess of 10,000. The funds are available to public bodies, non-profit corporations and Indian tribes.

2. Guaranteed Loans – To provide a loan guarantee for the construction or improvement of water and waste disposal projects serving the financially needy communities in rural areas. This purpose is achieved through bolstering the existing private credit structure through the guarantee of quality loans which will provide lasting benefits. The water and waste disposal guarantee loans are to serve a population not in excess of 10,000 in rural areas.

3. Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants – To assist rural communities that have experienced a significant decline in quantity or quality of drinking water due to an emergency, or in which such decline is considered imminent, to obtain or maintain adequate quantities of water that meets the standards set by the Safe Drinking Water Act. This emergency is considered an occurrence of an incident such as, but not limited to, a drought, earthquake, flood, tornado, hurricane, disease outbreak or chemical spill, leakage or seepage.

4. Pre-development Planning Grants – Predevelopment planning grants may be available, if needed, to assist in paying costs associated with developing a complete application for a proposed project. 5. Loans for Very Small Projects – To assist communities with water and wastewater systems. Qualified private non-profit organizations will receive RFP grant funds to establish a lending program for eligible entities. This grant program is to serve a rural area with a population not in excess of 10,000.