Entries for the 'RWAs' Category

22

Since SmallWaterSupply.org launched in 2010 we have seen more and more training offered via free and for-a-fee webinars. These topical training events generally last an hour or two and are a very efficient way to deliver information. 

This week the National Rural Water Association, in conjunction with their Water University online training program, announced Water Pro to Go. Water Pro is the association's annual technical conference for education in operations, management, boardsmanship and governance. This new "to Go" option will offer conference attendees a way to view concurrent session materials. 

Perhaps more significantly, Water Pro to Go will allow those who cannot travel to the event to experience much of a full conference for free from the comfort of their desk chair. The online version of the conference will feature live streaming, recording sessions, live chats and a discussion forum. 

Will you attend? Is online conference attendence the wave of the future... or can Internet-based networking ever measure up to the real deal?

Please leave a comment on this post sharing your thoughts. 

Posted in: RWAs, Training/CEUs
13

A few months ago we blogged about several calculation tools that can make your work easier. Since then the Missouri Rural Water Association has released two more apps for Apple and Android phones. We also discovered this proactive organization has a suite of online calculators. 

Here are the details of the helpful tools (relevant to small systems everywhere) developed by this organization:

Smartphone Applications

We will update this post when these new apps reach the iTunes store.
 

Interactive Water Tools

Have you used any of these tools? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.

 

Posted in: Helpful Tips, RWAs
14

The list of selected awardees from the Environmental Protection Agency's recent $15 million RFA for Training and Technical Assistance for Small Systems has been announced. According to the Agency's website, "this initiative supports EPA’s continuing efforts to promote sustainability and public health protection for communities served by small systems."

  • SDWA Compliance - Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and National Rural Water Association (NRWA)
  • Capacity Development - New Mexico Environmental Finance Center (NMEFC) 
  • Wastewater/Private Wells - Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP)
  • Technical Assistance to Tribes - Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP)

Documents and events from each of these organizations are indexed in our database. USDA Rural Development also operates a Technical Assistance and Training grant program that supports outreach to small water and wastewater systems. 

 

27
I was at the Alabama Rural Water Association Conference a few weeks ago and there was a really interesting talk by a lawyer for an Alabama utility.  The utility is being sued by a few of their customers for poor water quality even though their water meets all health standards.  If a water supply provides water that meets all of the health standards and their operation meets all of the regulatory requirements, should their customers be able to sue them if they percieve there are water quality problems? Thats a tricky question for sure.
 
Safe Harbor
A safe harbor law basically protects someone from civil suit if they are meeting all of the legal and professional requirements for the services they provide.  For instance, a prosecutor in a district attorney's office has immunity from civil action, even if they help put an innocent man in jail.  For a water system, this type of law would mean that your customers cannot sue you for percieved water quality problems if you are meeting all of the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act and your state regulations.  Alabama currently does not have such a law.
 
What's Happening In Alabama
Because of the lawsuit currently going on in Alabama, there is a push to pass a "safe harbor" law as an amendment to the Alabama SDWA. It's going through their state legislature now and appears to have alot of support.  In the ongoing lawsuit, 10 homeowners that are spread throughout a 53 home subdivision, claim their water has oil and grease in it.  Testing by the utility and extensive testing by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management show there are only normal, background levels in the water (a trip blank even had similar levels in it).  I don't want to get into the details, but 3000 customers use water from the same main, and some of the allegations (like their water catches fire), are hard to understand if the water is meeting all of the SDWA standards. 
 
What It Means
I'm not a judge or jury, but I do believe that if a utility is meeting its legal obligations and works with their customers fairly and openly, there should be some reasonable expectation that the utility met its obligation and has their customers best interests at heart. As the speaker said, without this legislation, any customer could sue any utility and that could lead to a jury setting water standards in that state, "regulation by litigation" is the term he used.  Can water systems afford litigation because of unhappy customers? 
 
How about you?  Does your state have "Safe Harbor" legislation attached to its SDWA rules?  Do you think it's a good idea?

 

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