Utah Rural Water Assists Community Where Valve Forced Them to Manually Fill Tank

SOUTH DUCHESNE, Utah – For the last eight years, a Systems Operations Specialist has been filling the South Duchesne Culinary Water System’s water tank by manually opening the valves twice a day, every day. Assistance from the Rural Water Association of Utah helped correct the problem with a valve that allowed the system to operate normally.

“They had a flow control valve with an altitude valve that was supposed to refill the tank as the level dropped,” explained Jake Wood, a Circuit Rider with RWAU. Circuit Riders are roving water utility experts that provide training and technical assistance to the communities in their area.

Wood explained that under normal operation, the valve would detect the change in pressure inside the tank as the water level dropped. The valve would then open and refill the tank. Since the valve was not operating properly, someone had to manually-operate the valves to refill the tank. Occasionally he would overfill the tank, which would send it into flood stage and discharge the extra water to waste.

“Their tank is a retired beer vat, so without the valves there’s no way to check the water level,” Wood said.

The valve was installed in 2008 and numerous technicians had visited the utility to work on the valve.

Wood isolated the valve and started to disassemble and clean the components.

“A lot of the components were stuck and the lines were clogged with hard water deposits and sediment,” Wood said.

Wood cleaned the flow control valve, altitude valve, pilot control valve and the pressure sensing line and port. Once the valve was cleaned and reassembled, the Circuit Rider started reconnecting the valve to the system.

That was when he started to encounter complications.

“One of the first things that stood out was the system’s operating pressure exceeded the pressure of the pipe,” Wood said. “They had old, 1970s pipe that is rated at about 160 PSI. The static pressure of the system was 165.”

The pressure raised the potential of any adjustments creating a water hammer, a pulse of high pressure that travel through water and can split pipe or damage equipment.

“I was worried we were going to have problems,” Wood said.

The valve itself also created complications.

“These valves typically come from the factory set to certain pressures,” Wood explained. “So many technicians have worked on the valve, I didn’t know how it was set.”

Working carefully, Wood brought the valve online and made the appropriate adjustments for it to fill the tank. He cycled the system through the process to ensure the valve was operating properly.

“You want it to fill once the water level drops about a foot, so you still have necessary pressure for a fire fighting event,” Wood said.

Once the work was complete the system was filling automatically as designed, saving the utility the cost and frustration of having an employee manually fill their tank twice a day.

Water Issues Discussed at 2017 Regional/Water District Issues Forum

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Rural Water Association held the 2017 Regional/Water District Forum April 11-12 in Washington, D.C. The forum is designed to provide a personalized briefing from top-level congressional, agency and industry experts to address the issues facing Rural Water Association Members.

Attendees received briefings on Infrastructure Funding, Appropriations, 1926(b) Protections, Regulations, the next Farm Bill, the Drinking Water Affordability Act and Cybersecurity. They were also able to discuss the topics with presenters and offer feedback in a small group setting.

The Funding Panel included Kent Evans, Director of the USDA Rural Utilities Service Water Programs, Dr. Andrew Sawyers, Director of EPA’s Wastewater Office, and Chris Shaffner, Sector Vice President from CoBank.

Evans highlighted the effectiveness of Rural Development loans and grants. RD loans and grants remain the main funding mechanism for water and wastewater utilities in Rural America. These loans boast exceptionally low delinquency rates and can provide historically-low interest rates.

Dr. Sawyers reviewed the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. The WIFIA program is designed to accelerate investment in water and wastewater infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost, supplemental credit assistance under customized terms to creditworthy water and wastewater projects of national and regional significance. Attendees raised concerns that the $100,000 application fee and minimum project size of $5 million would create obstacles for small communities who want to access the program. Sawyers acknowledged the concerns and appreciated the feedback.

Shaffner provided information about CoBank and its programs. CoBank is a borrower-owned financial cooperative specifically chartered to provide dependable credit to agriculture and infrastructure in
Rural America. Shaffner highlighted the bank’s flexibility in loan structure and their variety of loan products including interim loans, refinance loans, term loans, USDA guarantee loans, and planning and design lines of credit.

Attendees were interested in President Trump’s plans for infrastructure. While all the panelists were aware of the general efforts, they had few details. All the panelists agreed that current discussions included public private partnerships and tax incentives. The specific measures that make the program and the timeline are still “up in the air.”

Fitz Elder, Deputy Staff Director of the Senate Appropriations Committee, came to inform the attendees about the current Appropriations Outlook. Current funding will expire on April 28, but Elder was optimistic there would be a funding bill by the end of the month. The largest sticking point is funding for a border wall. Elder expects numerous funding battles for 2018 appropriations. He said that the USDA Water and Wastewater Loan and Grant Program would probably not be zeroed out, but that it was important for rural systems to continue to contact their legislators.

Jim Herring, Attorney at Law from the Herring, Long and Crews firm based in Canton, Mississippi gave a detailed presentation about the history of 1926(b) protection. This protection established the rule that no municipality or other public body may curtail the water or sewer services or a rural water association indebted to USDA/Rural Development. The presentation included a packet entitled “The Odyssey” which included over 100 pages of case law, maps, and court rulings on the law.

Dr. Peter Grevatt, EPA’s Director of Ground Water and Drinking Water started his presentation by detailing his visits to small community water systems and stating that he was impressed with Rural Water’s work. This year the EPA will consider new rules regarding unregulated contaminant monitoring, perchlorate and lead and copper. The conversation immediately to the Lead and Copper Rule. Dr. Grevatt admitted that the rule is expensive and burdensome but pointed out that the catastrophe in Flint made it important to get right.

Darin Guries, Professional Staff member for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and Mr. Keith Heard, former Chief of Staff to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) provided some insight into the Farm Bill process and encouraged Rural Water to remain engaged throughout the process.

Jason Isakovic, Legislative Director, for Representative Latta (R-OH) introduced attendees to HR 1653- The Drinking Water Affordability Act. The bill provides flexibility under Drinking Water State Revolving Funds and federal authorities to help large, small, and disadvantaged public water systems improve their infrastructure and ensure safer drinking water and better protection of public health.

Michael Marlow and Steve Mustard of the Automation Federation, Eric Goldstein from DHS and Adam Sedgewick from NIST finished the agenda by discussing the state of cybersecurity policy in the federal government and how cyber vulnerabilities and threats can truly impact a system. NRWA and the Automation Federation have partnered to assess cybersecurity awareness in water and wastewater systems and develop training to increase preparedness.  Both organizations are collecting information via an online survey available Here.

NRWA President Steve Fletcher concluded the Forum by thanking the participants for their active discussion and participation.  Fletcher stated that in his view, it has never been more important for Rural Water members to get involved and tell their story.

Rural Water Uses Pipe-Freezing Tech to Assist Nebraska Town

AXTELL, Neb. – When Mike Stanzel arrived to assist the Village of Axtell with a leak, he never expected that after scheduling around a high school basketball tournament and closing 13 valves the leak was no closer to repair. Ultimately, the repair required the excavation of a service line and the use of a line freezing kit to repair the leak.

“There is no such thing as a simple leak,” said Stanzel, a Circuit Rider for the Nebraska Rural Water Association. “Axtell had a small leak turn into a nightmare.”

Jason Stoddard, the Water Superintendent for Axtell, was notified of a leak in an old machine shop. When he arrived, he found the first in what would be a series of problems.

“The water service line had no curb stop,” Stoddard said, referring to a valve near the street that allows water service to be cut off in emergencies. “I don’t know why it was built that way, but it has probably been like that for 70 years.”

The Superintendent contacted the Nebraska Rural Water Association for assistance. Stanzel was in the area with his tools. Rural Water Circuit Riders are roving water industry experts that provide training and technical assistance to rural communities.

“I got there in the afternoon and we looked at the system map,” Stanzel said. “We closed four valves. We had to use a jackhammer to uncover two of them because they had been covered with asphalt.”

They next tried using a freezing kit to stop the water flow enough to repair the leak. The freezing kit pumps carbon dioxide through a special sleeve to create an ice plug that stops the water flow so leaks can be repaired without having to shut off all service or drain the entire system. Unfortunately, the leak was flowing too much to create an ice plug.

“You can’t freeze running water,” Stanzel said.

They consulted the system map again. The next valves they would need to close would also cut service to the high school while they were hosting a basketball tournament.

“We decided to come back the next day when school was out,” Stanzel said.

When they returned the next day, they attempted to slow the leak by closing more values up the street.

“We found some more valves, but none of them shut it off,” Stoddard said.

They closed off nine more valves, but it was not an easy process.

Many of the valves were inoperable, misaligned or buried,” Stanzel said. “It was obvious we needed a different plan.”

They located the service line and excavated enough to expose the line.

“We had to pull out the sidewalk and dig down to the line,” Stoddard said.

Once the line was exposed, they used a line crimp to slow the flow so that the freezing kit could create an ice plug. With the flow stopped they could repair the leak and install a curb stop.

“This town is extremely fortunate to have the various equipment necessary to make these kinds of repairs: jack hammers, concrete saw, backhoe and a dump truck,” Stanzel said.

Axtell was also fortunate to have the support of Nebraska Rural Water.

“Mike was a big help,” Stoddard said. “Everything he did helped out and he came up with ideas that I wouldn’t have had. It wouldn’t have gone as smooth without Mike.”

Registration Open for the 2017 WaterPro Conference, Sept. 18-20 in Reno, Nev.

DUNCAN, Okla. – The National Rural Water Association opened registration for the 2017 WaterPro Conference, scheduled for Sept. 18-20 in Reno, Nev. Those planning to attend the conference can register at waterproconference.org/register/attendee/

The conference room block is now also open to accept reservations. Housing information can be found at waterproconference.org/travel/hotel/

WaterPro is the annual conference of the National Rural Water Association and is designed to bring together water and wastewater utility systems – large and small, municipal and rural – for sessions in operations, management, boardsmanship and governance.

Watch Dennis Sternberg of Arkansas Rural Water Testify to Senate Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Dennis Sternberg, Executive Director of the Arkansas Rural Water Association, testified on March 28 to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife on S. 518. S. 518 is described as: “a bill to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to provide for technical assistance for small treatment works.”

NRWA has two recordings of Sternberg’s testimony: one trimmed to only include remarks about Rural Water and a recording of the full hearing.


Watch Rural Water Highlights below:

Watch the full hearing below:

Hearings Show Nominated Secretary of Ag, Senators Support Rural Water

WASHINGTON, D. C. – Statements during the Senate Agriculture Committee’s March 23 confirmation hearings for George “Sonny” Perdue revealed support for Rural Water from both Perdue, nominated to be Secretary of Agriculture, and Senators on the committee.

The National Rural Water Association has two recordings of the hearing: a version trimmed to only the comments regarding Rural Water and the live stream of the entire hearing.

View Rural Water Highlights Below:

View the Full Hearing Below:

Borough Seeks Help from Rural Water After Equipment Failure Floods Water Plant

CARLISLE, Pa. – When an equipment failure flooded the Carlisle water plant, the borough sought help from the Pennsylvania Rural Water Association.

“Over 1.6 million gallons of water came down from the reservoir and filled the basement of the water plant destroying all the electrical components,” explained Dave Muzzy, a PRWA Circuit Rider.

A power loss created a mechanical failure that left a check valve open. That valve drained millions of gallons from one of the utility’s finished water tanks into the basement.

The borough used about 3 million gallons of water a day – demand that had to be replaced until the water plant could be repaired. Carlisle had interconnections with three different municipalities that, together, could replace about 2.25 million gallons per day.

“We ran a 2,000-foot line over ground to another water system that could supply an additional 750,000 gallons per day,” Muzzy said.

Muzzy and employees from Carlisle and surrounding communities ran a six-inch hose from fire hydrant to fire hydrant to establish a connection with Pennsylvania American Water. Many of the employees assisting Carlisle came in from vacations they took for the beginning of hunting season. The community also received emergency turbidity meters from the state primacy agency and spare parts from nearby communities.

“When it comes down to it, these communities are there for each other,” Muzzy explained. “Everyone really came together.”

The utility still needed water to regenerate the system.

“Everything had to be disinfected as if we were starting from scratch,” Muzzy said.

Local milk carriers hauled 200,000 gallons of water over 40 miles to refill the water plant’s filters and disinfect the system.

“I don’t know about other states, but in Pennsylvania using milk trucks to haul water is a last resort,” Muzzy explained. “We got permission from the state to use the milk trucks and they hauled all the water we needed in less than two days.”

After about 50 hours of repairs, the system was producing water again, but the work was far from finished.  The utility had actuators and other electric components baked to remove the water and restore them to temporary service.

“The flood-damaged parts are starting to fail, but replacements have been arriving,” Muzzy said.

After replacement parts are installed, the utility will be operating near its full capacity again. After three months of repairs and replacements, seven of the utility’s eight filters are back in operation.

NRWA statement on the President’s elimination of USDA drinking water and wastewater infrastructure funding

The President’s budget eliminates the USDA water and waste loan and grant program, which has been the lifeline for rural water and small communities across Rural America. Instead, the Administration is placing its confidence with the EPA State Revolving Loan Funds. This demonstrates how blind the Administration is to its rural constituency and the lack of knowledge of what is most effective in funding the majority of the nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure.

There are approximately 52,000 community water supplies in the nation, of which 92% serve less than 10,000 population.  In 2016, USDA Rural Utilities Service dedicated their funding exclusively to Rural America – 85% of projects were for small communities, with populations of 5,000 or less.  The USDA Water and Environmental Program is a vital lifeline for rural residents funding the water infrastructure we rely on today.

We support the President’s call for increased investments to address aging and dilapidated infrastructure. However, this proposal guts the USDA infrastructure budget which has funded rural infrastructure for the past 70 years. USDA has the only water infrastructure programs specifically targeted to rural populations.

Private financing is not the solution and does not provide affordable terms for rural communities. Rural areas include lower-income, working class families with higher populations of retired residents and veterans on fixed incomes. This budget will not work for these rural Americans.

Shifting the federal portion of available financing to the EPA is unworkable, when data documents approximately 75% of SRF funding goes to systems serving over 10,000 population.

If the President is serious about assisting small and rural communities with infrastructure funding, he should utilize the USDA water programs that have a proven record in effectively and efficiently serving Rural America.

The National Rural Water Association is the largest water utility organization in the nation, with over 31,000 members. NRWA members provide safe and affordable water and wastewater services to over 34 million Americans in rural areas.

See NRWA President Steve Fletcher’s Testimony to the CEEC Subcommittee

DUNCAN, Okla. – Steve Fletcher, President of the National Rural Water Association, testified to the Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit Subcommittee on March 9, 2017 on the Farm Bill and Rural Development Programs. NRWA has two recordings of President Fletcher’s testimony: a version edited to include only his testimony and related comments and the full livestream of the hearing.

See Fletcher’s remarks below:

See full hearing below:

Utility Turns to California Rural Water to Inform New Board and Manager

GREENVILLE, Calf. –  When the Indian Valley Community Services District found itself with a brand new five-member board and a new general manager, the small water and wastewater utility turned to the California Rural Water Association for assistance.

“None of the new board members had previously served on a water utility board,” explained Angela Wendele, a CRWA Circuit Rider. “They were looking for guidance to make their governance more effective and meaningful.”

She described the Sustainable Utility Management Workshop for Small and Rural Systems in detail to Chris Gallagher, the new Indian Valley general manager. Sustainable Utility Management supports rural water and wastewater systems in their mission to become more successful and resilient service providers. The program is built around ten key management areas that can help utility managers address many ongoing challenges.

After hearing the details of the program, the board scheduled a special workshop on Sustainable Utility Management.

“It was evident that this group of people were in attendance to learn as much as they could to better serve their community,” Wendele said.

After the workshop, the board requested additional material and arranged for a follow-up four weeks later.

“The material was well received,” Wendele said. “The board members all said the training and material provided were important to the community.”

Rural Water will continue to offer support and training to Indian Valley as needed to continue their progress.

A webinar covering Sustainable Utility Management is available inside the WaterPro Community.