Curtis, Neb. wins 2014 water taste test

2014 GAWTT WinnersWASHINGTON, D. C. – Water from Curtis, Neb. was named the best tasting in the nation at the 2014 Great American Water Taste Test, held on February 12th in Washington, D.C.

Stansbury Park, Utah won the silver medal and Callaway County Public Service District 2 in Fulton, Mo. won the bronze. Shenandoah, Va. and Point Sebago Outdoor Resort from Casco, Maine completed the five finalist.

Each finalist was selected from a preliminary tasting that included entries from every state in the nation. Each state rural water association conducts an annual water taste test, and the winners qualify for entry in the national taste test.

The winners were selected by a panel of four judges, including Jacqueline Ponti-Lazaruk, Assistant Administrator for the RUS Water and Environment Program; John Carter, Farm Service Agency; Jennifer Bell, White House Office of Management and Budget; and Kent Evans, RUS Water and Environment Program.

Each Entry is judged on Clarity, Bouquet and Overall Taste.

In addition wining second in the taste test, Stansbury Park earned a unique honor from Utah Senator Mike Lee. Lee, who hosts Jell-O with the Senator every Wednesday, will use Stansbury Park water to make the snack for the Feb. 12 event.

NRWA Opens 2014 Rural Water Rally

IMG_5875WASHINGTON D.C. – The National Rural Water Association opened the 2014 Rural Water Rally in an opening session that included speeches from Congressman Alan Nunnelee and USDA Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien, held on February 11th in Washington D.C.

Nunnelee, a Republican from Mississippi, remarked about the efforts of the Mississippi Rural Water Association during ice storms and tornados in the state. The congressman also praised rural water for its efforts to communicate and coordinate with government.

“The most important thing we can do is communicate,” Nunnelee said. “If you communicate when you don’t have it, you communicate better when you do have to.”

Nunnelee also expressed confidence that communication would aid rural water moving forward, despite potential budget issues in the future.

“We can get through the tough times in America by working together and communicating,” the congressman said.

O’Brien focused on the economic impact of rural water and the value it provides families in small communities. Rural Development’s goal is to provide economic opportunity and improve quality of life in rural America.

“I think that means making Rural America a great place for young families,” O’Brien said.

The Under Secretary focused on the “bio economy” that includes more than foods and textiles, discussing an entire range of biomass that can be used to create products and energy.

“All these require a clean, reliable water source,” O’Brien said. “You are the foundation for opportunity in rural America.”

NRWA President Doug Anderton concluded the remarks by encouraging the representatives from NRWA’s over 31,000 members to tell their story. Because of the efforts of rural water members in their community, National Rural Water had a successful year, despite sequestration and government shut-down threatening its sources of funding.

“Every day National Rural Water is advocating for rural utilities,” he said. “We’re working to ensure our communities have a clean, reliable source of drinking water. We’re working to ensure the regulations systems must follow are affordable and based on sound science.”

Despite continuing uncertainty with the economy and the federal budget, NRWA has protected its critical Circuit Rider program and expanded its Source Water Protection programs to every state. The association has also successfully worked to have fire hydrants exempted from lead and copper rules, and to protect rural communities in the farm bill. Mike McNulty from West Virginia also testified as part of hearings regarding a chemical spill in West Virginia.

“Rural water has seen up years and down years, and we have come out stronger because of you,” Anderton said. “It is your willingness to serve and to tell your story.”

“None of this would have happened without you.”

Rural water aids Gifford after tornado

GIFFORD, Ill. – A tornado hit Gifford, Ill. on Sunday, Nov. 26th cause considerable damage, including the destruction of at least 20 homes and damage to the town’s water system.

Gifford, a village of 995 people about 10 miles north of Champaign, was hit by the tornado around 1 a.m. and four injuries were reported by Champaign County Sherriff Dan Walsh.

Because of the widespread damage, State Police limited access to the storm-damaged area. Evan Jones, a circuit rider with the Illinois Rural Water Association had to get special permission to enter the area and provide assistance. He met Jess Childress, village superintendent, at the damaged water plant.

“When I pulled up, all that was standing was the aerator and their four sand filters,” Jones explained. “They also had damage to their water tower and it was deemed unsafe to fill until inspected by the manufacturer.”

The tornado also carried away most of the utilities tools and equipment.

Work crews from nearby Paxton and Gibson City arrived and started working to help clear the streets and restore water service. Steve Johnson of EPA was also on site to provide ideas and advice. Jones started working on the village wells, testing them and pulling new wire. After about eight hours of work, the crews were able to start the water flowing.

“It was amazing, since most of the parts were scavenged from what was left of the plant,” Jones said.

The next day the crews returned and started expanding services throughout the town. They stacked hay bales around the make-shift treatment plant, helping insulate the system from the weather. Jones started creating the charts and tables necessary to track the operation of the well pumps and disinfection pumps.

Jones and Don Craig, deputy director of the Illinois Rural Water Association, then began locating service lines for crews to disconnect. Severe damage to homes and business had created several leaks that had to be isolated so that the system could maintain water pressure.

“That was one of the biggest challenges, with all the debris lying around,” Jones said.

After the second day, most of the water service had been restored to Gifford, but major repairs were still needed before the utility could be returned to normal operation.

NRWA opens 2013 H2O-XPO

2013 XPO OpeningLOUISVILLE, Ky. – The National Rural Water Association opened the 2013 H2O-XPO in a session on Oct. 1st in the Galt House Ballroom.

NRWA President Doug Anderton of Georgia began the opening by thanking staff of government agencies that were not able to attend the conference because of the recent government shutdown. His remarks include thanks for RUS Administrator John Padalino, Assistant Administrator Jackie Ponti-Jazaruk, Director of the EPS Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water Dr. Peter Grevatt, Department of Energy Senior Advisor for Clean Energy and Rural Development LeAnn M. Oliver.

“We would have lost 11 Circuit Riders last year without Jackie,” Anderton said. Circuit Riders are roving water professionals that provide technical assistance and training to systems in every state.

“Do you like delivering your CCR electronically?” Anderson asked the crowd of several thousand water and wastewater professionals. “Dr. Grevatt assisted with those efforts.”

One of rural water’s efforts the past year was the ability to deliver mandated Consumer Confidence Reports electronically. Previous those reports were required to be mailed to every customer a water system served. The change is expected to save utilities millions of dollars in cost annually.

This was only one effort were rural water had success during 2013. NRWA has also expanded its source water protection program to every state for the first time. This year’s advancements are considered a special achievement, since they were made in a challenging political and economic environment.

“We’ve had a lot of success in D.C. when a lot of others have not,” Anderton said.

A great deal of that success had been attributed to the individual efforts of water professionals that work tirelessly in the effort to supply their communities with clean drinking water, and who are willing to tell their story.

“Our success is because of each and every one of you,” Anderton said.

Anderton also thanked NRWA’s sponsors CoBank, USABlueBook, HD Supply, CST Storage Aquastore and Ford Meter Box. Their sponsorship supports NRWA activities year-round.

The combined opening session and awards ceremony capped the first day of the conference, which started that morning.

NRWA hosts 2013 awards; Minnesota Association of the Year


2013 Assn of the YearLOUISVILLE, Ky. – Staff from the Minnesota Rural Water Association jumped up and exchanged high-fives as their association was named “Association of the Year” during the 2013 Tribute to Excellence awards ceremony held October 1st as part of the H2O-XPO in Louisville, Ky.

MRWA was honored for years of consistent service, including retaining 17 staff members with a combined 225 years of service. Minnesota also won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Communications, Publications and Public Relations, recognized for its monthly newsletter and quarterly magazine. The association also recently started a notification system that can contact thousands through phone lines, e-mails and text messages.

The Florida Rural Water Association won two awards. FRWA was honored with the Outstanding Achievement in Legislative Initiatives for its effort in the campaign to have Consumer Confidence Reports delivered electronically, and actions that led to more affordable state nutrient reduction plans. Florida was also awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Technical Assistance award.

The Kentucky Rural Water Association was awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Member Services Award in honor of the range of benefits they offer to their member systems. KRWA offers a range of services, including a Finance Corporation, Recordkeeping, CCR Hosting, and Insurance programs.

The Wisconsin Rural Water Association was awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Training Award. Wisconsin Rural Water has conducted over 250 classes at 100 different locations to over 5,000 system operations specialists.

These winners were selected from 49 state associations across the nation. The National Rural Water Association Awards Committee reviews each submission with the names redacted, then scores each item to select a winner. Kent Watson of Texas chairs the committee of Phillip Combs of Tennessee, Steve Fletcher of Illinois, Paul Fulgham of Utah and Henry Meyer of Atlantic States.

Little Falls, NY wins Environment Award

2013 Enviromental AwardLOUISVILLE, Ky. – Little Falls, New York was awarded the Environmental Achievement award at this year’s Tribute to Excellence awards ceremony held on Oct. 1st as part of the H2O-XPO in Louisville, Ky.

The National Rural Water Association awards individuals or utilities that have gone beyond the normal requirements of their job to be better stewards of the environment.

The City of Little Falls, with a population of 4,800 along the Mohawk River, created a plan for Bio-solids reuse. Combating extreme cold, ice formation, snail invasions and the cost of using over 90,000 gallons of fuel to dispose of bio-solids, the city turned to an ecological approach in an abandoned coal mine reclamation project. This land application is now responsible for a sustainable, hay production initiative.

KRWA names Rob Johnson “Friend of Rural Water”

D30_5621WICHITA, Kan. — Robert Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Water Association, was named “Friend of Kansas Rural Water” at the Association’s 2013 conference held at the Century II Convention Center in Wichita in late March.  In presenting the award, Kansas Rural Water General Manager Elmer Ronnebaum commentated that it is difficult to describe “Rob” because of the many places and faces he has dealt with. “He’s been responsible for training, for administration, for supporting the fledging National Rural Water Association soon after it was established. He has continued service since 1978 to the present in helping guide and build the most responsible voice for rural water in America,” he said.

“Rob is best described as a negotiator, a debater and a mentor. He has guided the advocacy for rural America – and as a result, he has helped communities and rural water rural water districts across Kansas in many ways, many that cannot be fully appreciated,” KRWA President Dennis Schwartz says.

Rob is a graduate of what was Central State University, which is now the University of Central Oklahoma; he earned a graduate degree from the University of Arkansas. He taught for five years at Southeast Missouri State University before joining NRWA in 1978. In 1985 Rob was named Chief Executive Officer for NRWA.

Kansas Rural Water Association thanks Robert Johnson for his leadership and perseverance in helping all of the 49 state rural water affiliates and the 31,000 members of the NRWA. NRWA’s offices are located in Duncan, Oklahoma with legislative offices at 101 Constitution Ave. in Washington. Rob and his wife Barbara live in tiny Loco, Oklahoma.

MsRWA bridging the gap between rural Miss communities and USDA

msusdaGREENWOOD, Miss. — On April 4, 2013 Mississippi Rural Water Association Executive Director Kirby Mayfield, Wastewater Technician Larry Bratton, Circuit Rider Tom Abernathy along with Trina George, state director for USDA Rural Development in Mississippi, and a host of USDA staff and partners attended “A day with USDA:  Accessing Opportunities in Rural America” at Leflore County Civic Center in Greenwood, Miss. The event presented by Congressman Bennie Thompson in conjunction with Alcorn State University Extension Service .  This is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “StrikeForce” initiative.

Congressman Thompson welcomed attendees and partners to the event.  He assured the attendees the USDA will do more to partner with local and state governments and community organizations on projects that promote economic development and job creation.  This one day event is a way to increase partnerships in financially challenged Mississippi communities.

Also in attendance was Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development, Judy Canales, as she travels the US promoting revitalizing rural America.  Ms. Canales also worked with the USDA during the Clinton administration as well.  Mr. Mayfield took the opportunity to speak with her regarding the MsRWA’s role in assisting municipal and rural utilities in Mississippi.

MS Rural Water Association is a sounding board for many mayors, managers, aldermen, board of directors, and operators across MS.  As our Circuit Riders, Wastewater Technicians, FSA Source Water Technician and Training Technicians travel across MS, they heard mayors, managers and other community leaders voice their opinion on issues facing their communities and utility systems.  They see the USDA loan and grant program, as well as the training and technical assistance provided by the MsRWA as a vital tool.  With the MsRWA’s assistance it allows them the help needed to provide the communities they serve with safe, clean, and affordable drinking water and wastewater.

Mississippi Rural Water holds conference, honors Senator Cochran

cochranJACKSON, Miss. — The 2013 Mississippi Rural Water Annual Technical Conference was held March 25th thru the 28th. It was held at the Mississippi Trade Mart Building in Jackson, Miss. This conference, the largest of its kind in the state and one of the largest conference’s in MsRWA history, was attended by approximately 950 attendees. Along with the large exhibit hall which consisted of 140 exhibitors, the conference also had water and waste water training along with Board Management training.On Wednesday, March 27th, the annual catfish luncheon was held. Special guests attending the lunch were many of the State Legislators, Public Service Commissioner Lynn Posey, staff members from the PSC, MS Department of Health, Rural Development, Department of Environmental Quality, staff members from several Senate and Congressional Offices, and many others.

However, the guest of honor went to longtime Senator Thad Cochran. Serving on the Appropriations and Agriculture Appropriation Committee’s as Chairman and as Ranking Member.  Senator Cochran has always been a true supporter of Ms Rural Water Association and National Rural Water Association’s efforts.  He is always at the forefront insuring appropriations funding for water and wastewater is a top priority. He has always supported the training and technical assistance programs provided by the National Rural Water Association and its State Associations.  He is always an advocate for what we do and realizes the importance of the commodity we provide. He was also instrumental in getting the Source Water Protection Program started at the national level as well.

During the luncheon, Mississippi Rural Water Association along with a unanimous consent of the MsRWA Board of Director’s, staff and members awarded Senator Cochran and made him an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Mississippi Rural Water Association. The Association also dedicated the 2013 MsRWA Conference in his name.