Florida Rural Water Keeps Everglades City Sewers Operating After Hurricane Irma

EVERGLADES CITY, Fla. – Hurricane Irma left Everglades City, Fla. devastated – there was no power, storm surges left a coat of filthy, grey mud on everything, and the city’s sewer system was dangerously close to overflowing. Emergency assistance from the Florida Rural Water Association helped keep the system working until workers could make repairs.

“I asked the staff to assess Everglades City and provide assistance to any of their emergency response efforts,” said FRWA Executive Director Gary Williams.

FRWA Wastewater Technicians Allen Slater and Jamie Hope went to Everglades City to evaluate the system, bringing FRWA’s new trailer-mounted vacuum excavator. The vacuum trailer is a self-contained unit with a 500-gallon tank, jetter, water tanks and hoses that can be used to excavate and transport wastewater to the treatment plant. Nearby Regional Utilities also sent workers and a generator to assist.

“The city had water, but no power,” explained Lloyd Beaty, a Supervisor with the community of about 400 residents.

The city’s 17 main lift stations were without power, creating a situation where sewers could overflow or backup into homes. Wastewater systems largely rely on gravity to operate, but they often require mechanical assistance to extend service into areas of lower elevation. When these lift stations are without power, they fill to capacity and risk overflowing or backing up into structures.

After a quick assessment, the workers divided into two crews.

“I took the Regional Utilities crew and the generator to the causeway lift station,” Slater said.

After Slater attached the generator, they could begin pumping one side of the city toward the wastewater treatment plant. Hope and the Everglades City staff used the vacuum trailer to pump out lift stations on the other side of town, and transport the wastewater to the wastewater treatment plant.

“We tackled the closest lift station to the facility to ensure quick turnaround times,” Hope said.

The trailer proved to be a valuable piece of equipment. It’s user-friendly design and automatic shutoff allowed crews to quickly pump one station and move to the next.

“It didn’t take long and we were running like clockwork,” Williams said. “I was pleased to hear that my decision to purchase that piece of equipment, was already helping utilities.”

Around 7 p.m. that evening, power started being restored to parts of the city. FRWA returned the next day to ensure the lift stations remained functional.

“They were a big help,” Beaty said of FRWA’s assistance. “They kept the stations pumped out until we were able to make some repairs.”

“It was awesome,” he added. “They kept us flowing.”

Watch Kansas’ Elmer Ronnebaum Testify on 2018 Farm Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Elmer Ronnebaum, general manager of the Kansas Rural Water Association, testified before the Senate Agriculture Committee regarding the 2018 Farm Bill at a hearing on Sept. 28.

NRWA has two recordings of the hearing, one of the full hearing and another edited to only include rural water comments.

Watch Rural Water Highlights:

Watch Full hearing:

NRWA Seeks Feedback to Help Plan Future Conferences

DUNCAN, Okla. – After a successful WaterPro Conference in Reno, Nev., the National Rural Water Association is seeking feedback from anyone who did or did not attend the 2017 WaterPro Conference. This information will be used to help produce the best experience at future conferences.

Click Here to take the Survey.

The 2017 WaterPro Conference was considered a success, drawing the most Full Registrations of any conference since the very successful 2012 conference in Nashville. The 2018 WaterPro Conference will be held Sept. 17-19 in Fort Worth, Texas.

South Dakota Named State Association of the Year at Annual NRWA Awards

RENO, Nev.– The South Dakota Association of Rural Water Systems received the State Association of the Year award at the annual Tribute to Excellence awards ceremony, held on Sept. 18 at the WaterPro Conference in Reno, Nev.

“The most prestigious and most honored award is the State Association of the Year,” said Ed Savage, chair of the NRWA Awards Committee. “It is presented to the state association that projects a team effort in all areas of professional association operations and membership service.  The State Association of the Year has excelled in all categories of the award and this is only accomplished by teamwork, strong leadership and member support.”

“For almost 50 years, this Association has been well-respected for the high-quality training, services, publications and advocacy they provide their members,” Savage said. “With 12 employees and a combined total of 147 years of experience, this association trains hundreds of individuals in all aspects of water/wastewater management through workshops and conferences each year.”

The Rural Water Association of Utah was awarded for Outstanding Achievement in Communications, Publications and Public Relations.

“They have been working on cultivating a positive relationship with the news media outlets in their state which has resulted in excellent television and newspaper coverage on our highlight event of the year—the water taste test,” Savage said. “They have also improved their internal communication channels to make them indispensable tools for their members and the general public.”

The Idaho Rural Water Association won Outstanding Achievement in Legislative Initiatives.

“Idaho made a commitment to provide a strong, unified voice for their members. They work year-round as the advocate for rural system needs,” Savage said. “They invited Congressional Delegation offices to tour member rural water and wastewater systems. This provided the best opportunity for educating our representatives in Congress on the challenges rural water and wastewater systems face.”

Alabama Rural Water Association was awarded Outstanding Achievement in Technical Assistance.

“Technical Assistance became an emergency recently when EPA issued a ‘Health Advisory Notice’ for several systems. When a ‘No water consumption’ alert was issued, over 30,000 customers were without water to drink,” Savage said. “Rural Water organized financial entities, engineers, attorneys, system personnel, regulatory personnel and congressional representatives to discuss the infrastructure needs and cost. The Association then reached out to customers by delivering 15,000 bottles of water.  This significant technical assistance effort helped thousands of people.”

The Texas Rural Water Association was awarded Outstanding Achievement in Training.

“Texas is highly regarded when it comes to training. They offer classroom courses, online courses, regional workshops and conferences throughout the year. Last year, they trained over 6,700 individuals,” Savage said. “They have 26 classroom courses and six online courses that are approved for operator certification credit; and they developed 12 additional online courses that are offered in 21 other states. Online courses have totaled over 2,200 in 2016. Each year their instructors conduct over 100 classes at 30 locations, that reach nearly 1,600 students, as well as a training contract with one of the top 10 largest municipal utilities in the nation.”

The Kentucky Rural Water Association won Outstanding Achievement in Member Services Award.

“Taking care of members is their number one priority, and the strength of the association is directly related to the strength of their members,” Savage said. “Kentucky’s member service efforts focus on building strong relationships and strengthening the water & wastewater industries by providing networking and learning opportunities for members as well as services such as: CCR Hosting, a Finance Corporation, a Compliance Check Program, a Record Keeping Package and Information Technology Assistance and other programs.”

Anthony and Spencer Win Are You Smarter Than a Circuit Rider?

RENO, Nev. – Tom Anthony, Public Works Superintendent from Mattawan, Mich., won first place and Johnny Spencer from Tyrrell County Utilities in North Carolina won second place at the second Are You Smarter Than a Circuit Rider? competition, held Sept. 18 as part of the WaterPro Conference in Reno, Nev.

The 2016 conference debuted the new Are You Smarter Than a Circuit Rider? gameshow, where conference attendees partnered with randomly-drawn Rural Water staff to answer questions about drinking water, wastewater, regulations, utility management and the water industry. The contest drew an energetic crowd that filled the seating area and spilled into standing room around the edges. Are You Smarter Than a Circuit Rider? received a 100% score in WaterPro app, with all respondents indicating that watching the show was time well spent and that they would like to see the event at future conferences.

This year’s competition expanded the number of teams to four, and added a lightening round that pitted teammates against each other to determine the grand prize winner. Anthony won a $7,000 gift card from HD Supply Waterworks for the Michigan Rural Water Association; Spencer won a $3,000 gift card for the North Carolina Rural Water Association.

Mississippi Rural Water Receives Special Recognition for Legislative Success

RENO, Nev.– The Mississippi Rural Water Association received special recognition for legislative success at the annual Tribute to Excellence awards ceremony, held on Sept. 18 at the WaterPro Conference in Reno, Nev.

“With an ever-shifting Congress, key leadership positions change as a result of elections or term limits imposed on the committees.  At any given time, one state may have to bear more of a burden and carry others over the finish line,” said Ed Savage, chair of the NRWA Awards Committee. “This State that has key members on the Appropriation and Authorizing Committees and has been successful in advancing NRWA’s legislative goals into a final product or Public Law.”

“The simple fact is that all states are not equal with members in key positions at any given moment. This is not a judgement against those states and their relationships with their Congressional delegation, it is just the reality of how Congress is governed,” Savage said. “


NRWA Opens 2017 WaterPro Conference in Reno

RENO, Nev. – The National Rural Water Association opened the 2017 WaterPro Conference with a morning session on Sept. 18 in Reno, Nev. The opening included speeches from NRWA President Steve Fletcher and NRWA CEO Sam Wade.


Rural Water Associations in Florida and Georgia Assisting Utilities After Irma

DUNCAN, Okla. – Emergency Response teams from the Florida Rural Water Association and Georgia Rural Water Association staged personnel, equipment and supplies outside the heaviest areas of the storm and have begun assisting utilities after Irma’s landfall.

Associations started making detailed plans as the storms approached, assessing potentiality-impacted systems and outlining the generators and equipment that might be necessary to keep them operational. Utilities also have access from WARN networks, Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network, that include mutual-assistance agreements that help utilities share personnel and equipment during emergencies.

IRIS Service Proving Valuable to Systems After Hurricanes

HOUSTON, Texas – The Immediate Response Information System, or IRIS, is proving its value to water and wastewater utilities after hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The IRIS system gives organizations the ability to broadcast information through phone calls, text messages, email and social media.

“The IRIS system sent notifications to thousands of subscribers in Texas and Florida after these unfortunate disasters,” said Ross Gonzales, an executive from TechRadium, the company that developed IRIS. “Utilities were able to send evacuation alerts, boil water notices, office closures, maintenance notices, volunteer requests, donation requests and follow up alerts to thousands of people within minutes.”

Several nonprofits, hospitals and other organizations, including the Florida Governor’s office and the Texas National Guard, utilized IRIS to distribute information. State Rural Water Associations and rural utilities have access to IRIS at a discounted rate through a partnership between TechRadium and the National Rural Water Association.

IRIS uses distributed infrastructure and redundant servers in several states to ensure fast, reliable service, even during disasters. More information about IRIS is available at https://nrwa.org/products-services/iris/



Rural Water Begins Assisting Texas and Louisiana Utilities as Harvey Flood Waters Recede

DUNCAN, Okla. – Staff from the Texas Rural Water Association and the Louisiana Rural Water Association have begun providing assistance to the small water and wastewater utilities affected by Hurricane Harvey. As flood waters recede, these water professionals are beginning to assess systems, provide emergency power generation and provide assistance with repairs.

TRWA has already provided generators for the Mauriceville Special Utility District, the City of Smiley, Cape Carancahua Water Supply Corporation, River Oaks WSC, Nueces County Water Control & Improvement District #4 and the City of Woodsboro. Texas Rural Water is providing hands-on assistance to 27 systems so far and has contacted over 200 more.

They also helped coordinate assistance between members through the Rural Water Emergency Assistance Cooperative.

“We received a lot of offers from non-impacted systems to provide man power and equipment to systems in need,” said TRWA Executive Director Lara Zent.

In one example, Jonah SUD sent personnel and equipment to assist Holiday Beach WSC with locating leaks, repairing lines and closing off meters to damaged structures.

LRWA Circuit Riders are helping locate and repair leaks caused by heavy rain and flooding.

“The systems in Southwest Louisiana have been constantly getting more rain,” said LRWA Executive Director Pat Credeur. “There is some flooding in the low-lying areas of Cameron, Vermillion and Calcasieu Parishes.”

Rural Water will provide updates as more information becomes available.