Officials Set to Discuss Infrastructure Funding, Regulations, 1926(b), the Farm Bill and Cyber Security at Regional/Water District Issues Forum

DUNCAN, Okla. – Officials from several agencies are scheduled to discuss Infrastructure Funding, Regulations, 1926(b), the Farm Bill and Cyber Security at the 2017 Regional/Water District Issues Forum to be held April 11-12 in Washington D.C. The full schedule and registration information is available here.

Infrastructure funding discussions are scheduled to include: Kellie Kubena, Acting Assistant Administrator; Kent Evans, Director, Water Programs; and Scott Barringer, Deputy Assistant Administrator from the Rural Utilities Service; Dr. Andrew Sawyers, Director, EPA Office of Wastewater Management; Chris Shaffner, Co-Bank Vice President of Public Private Partnerships; and officials from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Fitz Elder, Senate Appropriations Committee Deputy Staff Director, is scheduled to discuss the Appropriations Outlook.

Kevin Baily, Professional Staff, Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and Keith Heard, former Chief of Staff to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran are scheduled to discuss the next Farm Bill.

Jason Isakovic, Legislative Director for Representative Latta of Ohio is scheduled to discuss the Drinking Water Affordability Act

Cyber Security discussions are scheduled to include: Michael Marlow, Automaton Federation, Managing Director; Eric Goldstein, Department of Homeland Security; Adam Sedgewick, NIST; and Steve Mustard of the Automation Federation.

Several members of the NRWA staff and board will also be available to discuss the shifting political dynamics and the potential impact on the rural water and wastewater systems.

A report on last year’s forum is here.

GIS for Rural & Small Utilities Series

This webinar series will focus on providing the business value of using a Geographic Information System to manage a rural water system. This three-part series includes introduction to GIS fundamentals, data conversion methods, solutions for water, taking it to the field and back, plus resources to get you started.

Part 3: Going Mobile: Taking your GIS into the Field: 2 pm CST May 11 Register Now
Join this webinar to learn about field workflows enabled by mobile apps. Also, get first hand tips from a special guest, Travis Anderson, District Engineer at Le-Ax Water District, on how you can implement a mobile app and pair it with a GNSS receiver to collect highly accurate locations at a very low cost. The mobile apps that will be demonstrated enable field workflows including:

Missed Part 1 or 2? You can watch all of our past webinars on the WaterPro Online Community. Go to WaterPro Community to learn more!


David Totman is the Industry Manager of the Esri Global Water Practice providing thought leadership and market direction. He has been in the water industry for 36 years, and using GIS for 30 of those years in business process optimization, project analytics, and infrastructure management.

Jason Channin is a Senior Solution Engineer for Esri’s Water Practice.  He joined Esri in 2003 as an Inside Sales Representative to support the Esri Denver Region.  He now serves as a Senior Solution Engineer as part of the Esri Water Practice, specializing in Esri solutions for water/wastewater/stormwater management. Channin has more than 17 years of GIS experience.     He earned a B.S. in geography in 2003 from the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO.

Matt Kennedy has worked at Esri for 19 years, beginning as an instructor and then becoming the manager of the Northeast regional training program. Since 2004, Matt has worked as a solutions engineer. As a member of Esri’s Global Water Practice, he helps customers understand how to use the ArcGIS Platform to help manage their water, wastewater, and stormwater systems.

NRWA Advances Profession with Industry Competency Model, Takes Steps Toward Apprenticeships

DUNCAN, Okla. – The National Rural Water Association recently collaborated with the Department of Labor and other water organizations to revise the Water and Wastewater Competency Model, a framework for describing the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in a given industry.

“NRWA representatives participated in a Department of Labor Energy Sector of Excellence in Apprenticeship meeting with partner industries and reviewed their Water and Wastewater Competency Model,” said Matthew Holmes, NRWA Deputy CEO. “They helped develop national guidelines for the workplace competencies and technical instruction necessary to prepare students to be successful, well-rounded professionals. For example, in addition to the attainment of specific industry-wide competencies, the ability to communicate with engineers and regulators was identified as a critical competency for water and wastewater operations specialists.”

The updates to the Model more accurately reflect the needs of small water and wastewater utilities. The new model will also provide a roadmap for developing the NRWA Workforce Advancement Center’s WaterPro Apprenticeship program.

“There’s a tremendous need to get younger people into the industry, particularly for small systems in rural areas,” Holmes said. “In addition to the general exodus of young people from rural areas, our industry is not viewed as a good career option. High school students are not aware of it. The opportunity to acquire a nationally-recognized apprenticeship credential has the potential to heighten that awareness.”

NRWA announced the Workforce Advancement Center and the apprenticeship program at a media event last November. The apprenticeship program will initially be tailored to water system operations specialists, wastewater system operations specialists, and water utility system customer service personnel.  In addition, the Advancement Center will develop career pathways into the water sector for high school students, establish industry training certifications, connect workers with employers through a job network, and serve as an online clearinghouse for resources.

“Our goal is to complete the water and wastewater operations specialist guideline standards and training curriculum by summer 2017,” Holmes said. “We hope to begin recruiting ‘earn and learn’ apprenticeship prospects by the end of 2017.”

NRWA Joins #RebuildRural Coalition Advocating for Investment in Rural Infrastructure

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Rural Water Association has joined #RebuildRural, a coalition of over 200 organizations from across the country encouraging President Donald J. Trump to prioritize rebuilding infrastructure in rural America.

“Those of us in rural communities have seen our infrastructure deteriorate, jeopardizing jobs, our agricultural competitiveness and the health of rural families,” the coalition wrote in a letter to the President. “Our deteriorating infrastructure threatens our leadership position.”

NRWA joined the effort as a way to bring greater support to its over 31,000 utility memberships, which supply drinking water and wastewater service in all 50 states. Rural Water has continually advocated for investment in the small water systems that supply clean, affordable drinking water to their communities, and the wastewater facilities that protect the public health and the environment.

Rural America is known to be the primary supplier of our nation’s food and energy stocks, but is also the primary source of the volunteers that serve in the U.S. Military. The rural communities that supply these invaluable resources cannot thrive without clean, reliable water and wastewater services, but their need is great.

“The scope of the investment needed is staggering,” the coalition letter said. “Clearly the federal government must continue to play an important role in providing funding and those federal investments should increase.”

USDA Rural Development has been the Federal Government’s best tool for assisting rural communities. This agency provided financial support to rural communities through loan, loan guarantee and grant programs that provide affordable financing for water and wastewater projects. Any federal investment in rebuilding rural infrastructure should include fully-funding this agency.

The letter then states that federal investment will likely be insufficient, and that creative solutions will be needed to make the necessary progress. The Rural Water industry has always embraced creative solutions and NRWA was founded to maximize the limited resources available to small utilities. Rural Water trains over 80,000 water professionals a year and makes over 55,000 on-site assistance visits, ensuring that every dollar spent by small utilities has the maximum benefit for their communities.

Rural Water stands ready to support these efforts to provide the best water and wastewater service in the world to rural families, rural business and rural communities.

West Virginia Rural Water Assists School for the Deaf and Blind After Water Break

Romney, W.V. – A massive line break in Romney, W.V. cut service to the West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind in Romney, W.V., disrupting classes and forcing the students living on campus to relocate. The school contacted the West Virginia Rural Water Association for assistance.

“I contacted one of our Circuit Riders to provide emergency leak detection,” said WVRWA Executive Director Amy Swann. Circuit Riders are roving water professionals that provide on-site technical assistance to water and wastewater utilities.

Bertis McCarty rearranged his schedule to provide leak detection and other assistance. He met with Patrick McCord, Maintenance Supervisor for the school.

“We located the leak behind the cafeteria under a handicap ramp,” McCarty explained.

The leak was approximately seven feet below the surface and took nearly two days to uncover. Once the leak was repaired, the school and City of Romney started working to restore service. The city even donated some water pipe and fittings so that the school did not have to wait for delivery to begin repairs.

“Rick Davis, supervisor for the City of Romney was an invaluable part of the equation,” McCarty said.

Rural Water’s assistance saved the school roughly $3,000 per month in lost water but the benefits of the assistance went far beyond money saved.

“The costs to the facility and the community would be hard to measure in dollars,” McCarty said. “The students living on campus were displaced for seven days.”

Rural Water’s assistance ensured school could resume classes as quickly as possible.

“Needless to say, it was a very stressful situation for us,” the school’s superintendent, Dr. Martin Keller, Jr., said in a letter. “I wanted to personally thank Amy and Bertis as well as your association for your assistance.”

Aspen Pines, Wyo. Named Nation’s Best Tasting Water

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With a wide smile Mike Hoeft, a Water System Operations Specialist from Aspen Pines Water and Sewer District in Wyoming, walked to the stage and accepted the Gold Medal award for the Nation’s best-tasting water at the Great American Water Taste Test on Feb. 8. The Taste Test is held annually as part of the National Rural Water Association’s Rural Water Rally in Washington, D.C.

“I collected this sample myself,” Hoeft said. “We’ve won several taste tests and every time I was the one who collected the sample.”

Hoeft explained that the water has great taste because it requires no treatment. The water is drawn from a series of deep wells.

Moroe, Utah won the Silver Award and Franklin, Ken. earned the Bronze. The five finalists also included Steele, N.D. and Consolidated Baseyards Public Water System 258 from Wailuku, Hawaii, which won the first ever taste test hosted by the Hawaii Rural Water Association.

The five finalists were selected from a field of 39 water samples submitted from across the nation. Each state rural water association holds their own taste test and winners are eligible to compete in the national competition. Finalists are selected in a preliminary round, with the finals judged by a panel of expert guest judges. This year’s panel included U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Deputy Staff Director Fitzhugh Elder, IV; Joe Gilson, a member of the Donald J. Trump administration working in the USDA; USDA Water and Environmental Programs Senior Engineer Nicole Schindler; USDA Water and Environmental Programs Community Programs Specialist Lisa Chesnel; and USDA Rural Development Archaeologist Basia Howard.

Judges rated each water sample based on its clarity, bouquet and taste.

Video recordings and photo galleries of the Taste Test are available below.

NRWA Opens 2017 Rural Water Rally in Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Despite on-going change and deep uncertainty surrounding the nation’s capital, the National Rural Water Association opened its 2017 Rural Water Rally on Feb. 7 with optimism about the success of their programs and eagerness to build new relationships moving forward.

The speakers at the Rally opening included NRWA President Steve Fletcher of Illinois, the NRWA Legislative Chair Kent Watson from Texas, Deputy Staff Director for the US Senate Committee on Appropriations Fitzhugh Elder IV, and Former Chief of Staff for Senator Thad Cochran Keith Heard.

“Thank you all for being here,” Fletcher said. “It’s a great time to be in D.C. – I think that’s said every time we’re here. There’s a new administration, there’s new opportunities, new challenges but I we can meet those and be successful this year.”

The NRWA President emphasized that change was underway, and that whether individuals agreed with that change or not, those changes were happening.

“Rural Water now needs to go with the flow, adapt to the change, accommodate the change, embrace the change, in order to continue our work across America,” he said.

Fletcher encouraged all in the water industry to remain active and productive, and to engage with their elected officials.

“With the changes in D.C., we have our best opportunity in many years to affect the future of our water and wastewater systems,” Fletcher said. “These efforts have the chance to benefit our members for years and years to come.”

Elder and Heard discussed the details of the current budget process and the prospects of continuing resolution. Elder expressed how much the Rally felt like home, since he was formally part of NRWA’s D.C staff. Heard, formerly of Senator Cochran’s office recently joined NRWA.

After the opening session, the Rally attendees left for meetings with their elected representatives. These meeting will continue through Feb. 8 and will be followed up with meetings with legislators’ and their staff throughout the year.

NRWA Announces New Association Logo

DUNCAN, Okla. – The National Rural Water Association has chosen a new logo to represent the association. New logos are also planned for Water University, the WaterPro Community and WaterPro Conference.

NRWA officials will announce the new logos at the Rural Water Rally to be held Feb. 6-8 in Washington, D.C. The new logos will be updated onto the website and other media throughout the week.

The association chose to update the logo based on NRWA’s membership growth and program development since the previous logo. In the years since the previous logo was approved, NRWA has expanded to include a State Affiliate in all 50 states, launched Water University, the WaterPro Community, the WaterPro Conference and the Workforce Development Center’s apprenticeship program.

NRWA has also expanded the offering in its Products and Services Portfolio. This portfolio was designed to offer unique options specifically-designed to benefit water utilities. These products and services include the Rural Water Loan Fund; Insurance for line breaks and data breaches; customer contact services; website design and hosting; lifestyle health plans; and mobile forms and work orders.

Forming Responsible Management Entities: 2p.m. CST March 2

Forming Responsible Management Entities: 2p.m. CST March 2 Register Now

The session will discuss the applicability of Responsible Management Entities and the different types of entities whether Governmental or Volunteer. The discussion will center around forming the Entities, the Entities focus, roles, and responsibilities. As many as 26 million homeowners living in subdivisions, mobile home parks or small communities use septic systems without a centralized sewer treatment plant. RME’s range from home owner associations that use regular pumping schedules to systems using low pressure lines to move grey water to a centralized drain-field.

About the Presenter:

William “Rusty” Reeves began his career with La Rural Water Association in September 1997 in the Louisiana Compliance Initiative Program. He previously worked as General Manager/System Operator for West Allen Parish Water District for eight years and holds a Class IV Certification in Water Production, Treatment and Distribution as well as Class I Certification in Wastewater Collection and Treatment. Reeves received his CIT (Certified Instructional Technologist Training) in Mississippi in 2004, and upgraded to a CET (Certified Environmental Trainer) in 2005 through the National Environmental Safety & Health Training Association.