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Developments in ongoing CCN Decertification Litigation

Posted By Trent Hightower, Thursday, December 20, 2018

TRWA members Crystal Clear SUD and Green Valley SUD each received positive rulings from Federal courts in their ongoing CCN decertification cases based on their federal debt under 7 U.S. Code Sec. 1926(b).

In Crystal Clear's case against the Public Utility Commission (PUC), United States Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin recommended that the PUC's final order granting decertification be declared void, and that Texas statutes directing state courts to ignore federal debt in decertification cases be declared void and pre-empted by federal law. We must now wait for U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel's ruling to see whether he adopts the magistrate judge's recommendations.

Meanwhile, Green Valley SUD prevailed in a ruling by U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks. However, Judge Sparks did not declare the same provisions of state law to be pre-empted by federal law as TRWA members would have hoped. Instead, the judge found that the PUC had interfered with GVSUD's exclusive right to serve without considering the issue of the utility's federal indebtedness.


Read more about each of these cases by viewing the documents attached below. 

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The Midterms Impact on Rural Water

Posted By NRWA Communications , Thursday, November 8, 2018

After Election Day counts came through late Tuesday night, Democrats had won control of the House for the first time in eight years, while Republicans expanded their control of the Senate. As of yesterday, Democrats flipped 27 House seats and now control 221 seats, while Republicans have 196 (with 17 races yet to be declared). In the Senate, Republicans hold a 51-46 majority, with Republicans leading in two races yet to be called, Florida and Arizona, and Mississippi will head to runoff later this month.


President Trump will face new challenges when it comes to Congress as the Democrats in the House now have the ability to stifle some of his legislative agenda on immigration while also attempting to subpoena his tax records. Thanks to Republicans picking up additional Senate seats, that chamber will become a “firewall” of sorts against the newly empowered House leadership and agenda.


One place where House Democrats, Senate Republicans and the White House could find common ground, and ultimately a bipartisan agreement, could be on infrastructure spending which is encouraging to Rural Water. “Last night I had a conversation with President Trump about how we could work together, one of the issues that came up was ... building infrastructure for America, and I hope that we can achieve that," potential new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters yesterday highlighting the jobs that could be created in "surface transportation, water systems ... broadband ... schools, housing and the rest.” The key outstanding issue that will be the primary point of contention during the infrastructure debate will be how to pay for it. There are rumblings that an increase in the gas tax or reducing tax cuts for corporations could be ways of doing so.


The new 116th Congress is set to be sworn in January 3rd 2019. Here are how the congressional committees pertinent to Rural Water will likely be impacted:  


House Committees


Agriculture: Incoming chairman Collin Peterson from Minnesota said he doesn’t want to wait until he claims the gavel in January to pass a farm bill—even though that would allow him to write his own legislation. There could be a last minute deal on the Farm Bill this lame duck session of Congress, however an extension of the law is more likely.


Appropriations: Ranking member Nita Lowey from New York is set to be the first woman to lead the powerful appropriations committee. She’s been ranking member since 2013.


Transportation and Infrastructure: Rep. Peter DeFazio from Oregon is currently the ranking member and expected to take the lead of T&I this January. He will be a leader in developing any infrastructure legislation.


Energy and Commerce: Rep. Frank Pallone from New Jersey will most likely become chairman of this committee and will be focusing on environmental regulation and making healthcare more affordable.  


Senate Committees


Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry: The current Committee Chairman Pat Roberts will retain the gavel and chairmanship of this Committee. He was not up for re-election. His counterpart and able partner Senator Stabenow from Michigan won re-election and will likely continue to be the ranking member as they both work to enact a Farm Bill. Senator Heitkamp, a Democrat from ND, lost her reelection bid which opens up a seat on this Committee.


Appropriations: There will be minimal, if any, changes in the Republicans’ lineup of leaders on this powerful committee.  Chairman Richard Shelby from Alabama and the team of subcommittee “cardinals’’ he assembled six months ago are prepared to tackle a full set of FY2020 spending bills early next year after they clear the decks of FY2019 before the end of 2018 during this lame duck session. Neither Shelby nor any of the subcommittee chairs stood for re-election this fall.


Environment and Public Works: Republicans lead by Senator Barrasso from Wyoming will continue to control this committee in the 116th Congress and may try to pass a highway bill. This Committee was successful in passing and enacting a massive water infrastructure bill just last month.

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USDA Notice of Funding Available

Posted By TRWA Communications , Wednesday, October 24, 2018
In September, USDA–RD announced that USDA is seeking applications for grants to repair water and wastewater systems damaged by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Over $163 million in supplemental grants is available to qualifying systems, and applications will be accepted until all funds are exhausted. 

To be eligible for funding, the applying water and/or wastewater facility must serve a rural area and be located in one of the federally-declared disaster counties for these hurricanes. In the instance of Hurricane Harvey, this includes the 41 originally declared counties. If you are located in one of the additional 19 counties Governor Abbott later declared as disaster areas for Hurricane Harvey, please visit the FEMA website to determine if that county is eligible for funding. This can be accessed at

Funds must be used for repairs or reimbursement for expenses incurred as a result of damage caused by the hurricanes. This would include water offices, records, office equipment, SCADA, etc., as well as most equipment. Please note that storm drainage or building new storm drainage does not apply with this funding; instead, systems would need to use the regular RD loan/grant program in these cases. 

For details and more information on how to apply, see page 46137 of the September 12 Federal Register. For your convenience, we have this document and other resources linked to this post. 

Questions about the application process may be directed to the USDA Rural Development State Office. The Texas office can be reached at (254) 74-9700.  You can also visit their website at

If you have any questions or need assistance, systems can contact their TRWA Circuit Rider, Wastewater Technician or their local USDA-RD Loan Specialist. 

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Grassroots Involvement During Election Season

Posted By Trent Hightower, Tuesday, September 4, 2018


As we return from Labor Day weekend, election season is kicking into high gear. I recently attended the Texas Agriculture Council's summer meeting, where we were informed that 95 of Texas' 150 House seats and 13 of its 31 Senate seats are involved in contested elections. At the meeting, three candidates for the Texas House spoke about their campaigns, and it gave me some ideas for ways you can get some face-time in front of candidates in your area to spread TRWA's legislative message.


One candidate in particular, Cynthia Flores of Round Rock, mentioned that she holds weekly coffee discussions in the rural portion of her district near Taylor and Coupland focusing on issues that are important to constituents in that area. Water was one topic she called out by name, and for those of you in Central Texas these sessions would be a great way to meet a potential representative in a small, relaxed environment. Other candidates across the state hold similar conversations on a regular basis, so check the websites of your local candidates to find out where and when those are happening!

Candidates are also always looking for volunteers to help them canvas their district or talk to potential voters on the phone. Once you can identify yourself as a volunteer on their campaign you'll have an automatic "in" for an introduction at the candidate's next event. Whether your district is in a competitive race or considered to be relatively "safe" for one candidate, a little help on a campaign goes a long way when it comes to establishing a relationship.

Finally, as always, TRWA wants to hear from you about your efforts to get to know the candidates and office-holders in your area. If you're working on a campaign or attend a townhall or campaign event in your area, let me know so we can share your success with others and help you build on that contact. TRWA appreciates all your help!


My contact information: | 512-472-8591

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TRWA to Partner with TXWARN

Posted By Kelsey Copeland, Wednesday, May 30, 2018

We are excited to announce our new partnership with the Texas Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (TXWARN). TXWARN, a well-established mutual aid network, is free to all utilities in the state of Texas and provides its members with emergency planning, response and recovery assistance and information before, during and after an emergency. In turn, TRWA’s Board plans to dissolve our Rural Water Emergency Assistance Cooperative (RWEAC) and will be coordinating our emergency response efforts with TXWARN. Our members will benefit from being part of this larger network. If your utility is not already a member of this network, we encourage you to begin the sign-up process by clicking here.


In the event of a local emergency or natural disaster, TRWA members can still call our emergency response hotline at 1-866-586-6480 for assistance. We will continue to provide resources and manpower to help you get your utilities back up and running and protect the health and welfare of your communities and customers. Additionally, our generators are available to TRWA members for any local emergency situation. If you find your system in need, contact us to utilize one of our seven generators that are housed across the state.


Read more about our partnership with TXWARN in our upcoming issue of Quench! If you have any questions, you may call us at 512-472-8591.

Tags:  #txwater  emergency assistance  rural texas  rural water  RWEAC  Texas water  TRWA 

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Summary of 2018 Primary Runoff Election

Posted By Jennifer Brown Emerson, Thursday, April 19, 2018

The primary elections took place on March 6th.  For many elected offices, the primary election is where the big and final decision is made.  There were numerous races (over thirty) where a single candidate did not receive a majority of the vote, therefore requiring a runoff election.  The runoff election in Texas will be held on May 22nd. There is a runoff election for the Democrat nominee for Governor, seventeen runoff elections in Texas Congressional races, one runoff in the Texas Senate and fourteen run-off elections in the Texas House. 

Texas Governor

Greg Abbott easily won his primary election.  Lupe Valdez (former Sheriff of Dallas County) and Andrew White (son of former Governor Mark White) are in a runoff for the Democrat nominee.  Valdez received a greater percentage of the vote in the primary but the contest between the two is a likely toss-up.  The winner of the runoff will face Governor Abbott in the general election in November and barring any major issues, he will easily win reelection in November.

US Congress

There were an unusual number of retirements from Congress this year which created opportunity for many who have wanted to run for Congress.  Those members that chose to not run for re-election include Ted Poe, Sam Johnson, Jeb Hensarling, Joe Barton, Lamar Smith, Blake Farenthold and Gene Green.  There are seventeen runoff elections in Congressional districts.  Those are as follows:

US House District 2 (seat being vacated by Ted Poe –R – Humble) – This is a Republican district and features Dan Crenshaw versus Kevin Roberts (former State Rep) in the run off.

US House District 3 – (seat being vacated by Sam Johnson R – Flower Mound) – This is a Republican district but there is a run off in the Democrat primary to see who will face Van Taylor (former Texas Senator who easily won his primary) in the general election.  The Democrat contenders are Lorie Burch versus Sam Johnson (pure coincidence on the name).

US House Distrct 5 (seat being vacated by Jeb Hensarling R – Dallas) – This runoff election features Lance Gooden (former State Rep) versus Bunni Pounds (a Republican fundraiser).


US House District 6 (seat being vacated by Joe Barton – R – Ennis) – There are runoffs in the Democrat and Republican primaries in this district. However, this is a mostly Republican district.  The Democrat contenders are Jana Sanchez and Ruby Woolridge and the Republican contenders are Jake Ellzey and Ron Wright.

US House District 7 (seat currently held by John Culberson – R – Houston) – This is a marginally Republican district and one that Democrats hope to win someday if not this cycle.  The Democrat primary pits Lizzie Fletcher versus Laura Moser and the winner will face incumbent Congressman John Culberson in November.  The Democrat primary made headlines as the National Democrat party came out against Laura Moser as they thought she was too liberal to have a chance to win this seat.

US House District 10 (seat currently held by Mike McCaul – R – Austin) The Democrat primary has Mike Siegel versus Tawanna Walter – Cadien and the winner of this contest will face incumbent Congressman Michael McCaul.  This is a solidly Republican district.

US House District 21 (seat being vacated by Lamar Smith – R – San Antonio)  This seat probably saw the largest numbers of contenders, over 18 on the ballot in the Republican primary.  There is a run off in both party primaries. The Democrat primary pits Joseph Kosper and Mary Smith Wilson.  The Republican primary has Matt McCall and Chip Roy vying for the nomination. 

US House District 22 (seat currently held by Pete Olson – R – Sugar Land).  This is a Republican district but there is a runoff in the Democrat primary to see who will face incumbent Congressman Pete Olson.  The primary contest has Sri Kulkarni and Letitia Plummer vying for the spot.

US House District 23 (seat currently held by Will Hurd – R – San Antonio).  This is a marginal district and the Democrat primary has Gina Jones and Rick Trevino fighting for the chance to face incumbent Congressman Will Hurd.


US House District 25 (seat currently held by Roger Williams – R – Weatherford).  This is a solid Republican district.  The Democrat primary pits Julie Oliver and Chris Perri against each other in an effort to face incumbent Congressman Roger Williams in November.

US House District 27 (seat being vacated by Blake Farenthold – R – Corpus Christi).  There are run off elections in both the Democrat and Republican primary for this seat which is a fairly solid Republican district.  The Democrat primary challengers are Raul Barrera and Eric Holguin while the Republican primary has Bech Bruun and Michael Cloud facing each other.  Bruun was the top vote getter in the primary but word is that this is going to be a very close runoff election.

US House District 29 (seat being vacated by Gene Green – D – Houston). This is a solid Democrat district.  Sylvia Garcia (former State Senator) won the Democrat primary outright in March.  In November, she will face the winner of the Republican primary contenders who are Phillip Aronoff and Carmer Montiel. 

US House District 31 (seat currently held by John Carter – R – Round Rock).  The Democrat primary contenders are Mary Jennings Hegar and Christine Mann.  The winner of that runoff will face incumbent Congressman John Carter in a Republican district.

US House District 32 (seat currently held by Pete Sessions – R – Dallas).  This is a marginally Republican district according to pollsters.  The Democrat primary runoff contenders are Collin Allred and Lillian Salerno.  The winner of that contest will face incumbent Congressman Pete Sessions in November.

Texas Senate

There is one runoff election for a seat in the Texas Senate.  The runoff is in Senate District 17 which is currently held by Republican Joan Huffman.  The runoff is in the Democrat primary and features Rita Lucido and Fran Watson.  This is a solid Republican district so Senator Huffman is very likely to keep her seat.

Texas House

There are fourteen primary runoff elections in the Texas House.  Seven of those fourteen are in districts where the incumbent decided to retire and not seek re-election.  Those are Lance Gooden, Byron Cook, Leighton Schubert, Jason Isaac, Larry Phillips, Helen Giddings and Joe Straus. The primary runoff elections in the House are as follows:

TX HD4 (seat vacated by Lance Gooden- R – Kaufman).  There was a crowded field in the solid Republican district.  The top two vote getters were Stuart Spitzer (who beat Lance Gooden in 2014 and was defeated by Gooden in 2016) and Keith Bell (a local businessman and former President of the School Board). This will be a close race to watch.

TX HD 8 (seat vacated by Bryon Cook – R – Corsicana). This solid Republican district features Cody Harris (farm and ranch real estate and management) and Thomas McNutt (VP at Collin Street Bakery) against each other in the primary.  McNutt ran against Cook last election cycle. Cody Harris was the top vote getter in the primary.

TX HD 13 (seat vacated by Leighton Schubert –R – Caldwell).  The Republican primary pits Ben Leman (Grimes Co. Judge) and Jill Wolfskill (energy industry) against each other in this solid Republican district.

TX HD 37 – This seat is currently held by Rep. Rene Oliveira (D – Brownsville) .  He faced a tough primary and was just shy of getting the required 50% in the primary.  He faces Alex Dominguez (attorney and Cameron Co. Commissioner) in the Democrat primary.  This will be a tough primary battle.

TX HD 45 (seat vacated by Jason Isaac – R – Dripping Springs).  This is a solid Republican district.  Ken Strange (Wimberley – School Board member) won the Republican primary outright. He will face the winner of the Democrat primary which features Rebecca Bell Metereau (professor at Texas State) and Erin Zweiner.

TX HD 46 (seat currently held by Dawnna Dukes – D – Austin).  Rep. Dukes faced several challengers in the primary and was not one of the top two vote getters.  Sheryl Cole (attorney and former City Council member) and Jose Vela (immigration attorney) face off in May to be the Democrat candidate in this House District which is a Democrat district.

TX HD 47 (seat currently held by Rep. Paul Workman – R – Austin).  Rep. Paul Workman currently represents this district which is the only Republican House district in Austin.  It is a marginal Republican district.  Rep. Workman won his primary and will face either Elaina Fowler (environmental remediation business) or Vikki Goodwin (realtor) in November.

TX HD 54 (seat currently held by Rep. Scott Cosper – R – Killeen).  Rep. Cosper faced a tough primary battle and several opponents in the primary.  While he was the top vote getter, he did not get over the 50% mark and will face Brad Buckley (veterinarian) in the May primary run off.  

TX HD 62 (seat vacated by Larry Phillips – R – Sherman).  This was another primary with a crowded field and the top two vote getters in the Republican primary in this majority Republican district were Brent Lawson (electrical engineer) and Reggie Smith (attorney).

TX HD 64 (seat currently held by Rep. Lynn Stuckey – R – Sanger).  This is a Republican district with Rep. Stuckey serving as the incumbent.  He will face a Democrat in the November general election and that will be either Andrew Morris (technical writer in defense industry) or Mat Pruneda (financial analyst).

TX HD 107 (seat currently held by Rep. Victoria Neave – D – Dallas). This is a toss-up district.  Rep. Neave will face the winner of the Republican primary runoff in November.  The two Republican candidates are Deana Maria Metzger (attorney) and Joe Ruzicka (retired Navy). 

HD TX 109 (seat vacated by Helen Giddings – D – DeSoto).  This is a Democrat district and the primary runoff features Deshaundra Jones (DeSoto City Council) versus Carl Sherman (Former DeSoto Mayor).

HD TX 121 (seat vacated by Joe Straus – R – San Antonio).  This primary field became crowded after Speaker Straus announced he would not seek re-election.  The top two vote getters in the Republican primary are Steve Allison (attorney) and Matt Beebe (cybersecurity business).

HD TX 133 (seat currently held by Rep. Jim Murphy – R – Houston).  This is a solid Republican district with Rep. Jim Murphy currently representing this district.  He will face a Democrat opponent in November and that will either be Sandra Moore or Martin Schexnayder.

*It is worth noting that in the general election in November, the party who holds the Presidency goes first on the ballot.  Thus, all Republican candidates will have an edge. 

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What Does a Superior Rating Mean for Your Water System?

Posted By Kelsey Copeland, Friday, December 1, 2017

A public water system (PWS) is a system that provides water via piping or other constructed conveyances for human consumption to at least 15 service connections or serves at least 25 people for at least 60 days each year. As of June 28th, 2017 the State of Texas regulates 6,952 PWSs, providing drinking water to 27,456,677 customers.


Unlike many other states, Texas uses outside contractors (rather than the system itself) to assess the state of these systems. This objectivity helps guarantee correct reporting; in fact, failure to report violations is common in some states because it is difficult to report on things that haven’t yet been tested.


The Texas Health and Safety Code under Chapter 341.0353 provides the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) with the authority to evaluate public drinking water supplies at least once each year and as often during the year as conditions demand. The information gathered during the evaluation is then used to assign a rating to the water system of “Approved” or “Superior.” But what does this “superior status” mean to the consumer?


Adequate Oversight — To be recognized as a superior system, a minimum of two licensed operators (additional operators for larger systems) are required. This ensures the system is adequately staffed, which ultimately leads to increased oversight and a smaller margin for error.


Safe and Reliable Water — The most important factor for a consumer is safe, reliable water. TCEQ administers the Public Drinking Water program under primacy authority from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In this context, a superior system has met standards that prove the system can consistently provide quality drinking water.


Under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the EPA sets national limits on contaminant levels in drinking water to ensure the water is safe for human consumption. When awarded this status, a system has gone 24 months without microbiological violations.


To attain the superior status, TCEQ requires compliance with EPA drinking water standards for two types of contaminants. In this industry, the phrase “potable and palatable” is often used to describe these standards. While potable refers to the safety aspects, palatable references things like taste and appearance.


  • Primary standards are set to protect consumer health by setting maximum levels on contaminants such as arsenic, fluoride, nitrate, lead, copper or chemicals used for water disinfection. A superior status is awarded only when microbiological sampling ensures water is potable and free of pathogens.
  • Secondary standards are set at levels that, in most cases, aesthetically alter the water: this could include taste, odor or discoloration.

Effective Planning and Preparedness — As communities evolve, it is important for systems to maintain sustainability. To this effect, certain requirements are set forth to ensure a superior system can adequately provide for consumers, even in the event of an unforeseen situation.


For example, a superior system is required to have at least two wells, two raw water pumps or a combination of these to provide average daily consumption even with the largest well or pump out of service. Consumers depend on reliable sources, and this requirement helps ensure safe water despite inflation or unexpected circumstances regarding the wells, pumps or water.


To further implement preparedness, TCEQ also includes a capacity requirement for the system based on its service area. Capacity is crucial because it enables the system to a) reach consumers and b) reach them efficiently. This distinction is made because systems with low capacities often have low water pressure, and low pressure can increase the likelihood of outside infiltration.


Good Housekeeping — Lastly, TCEQ includes standards that help enforce optimal operations. It may be comforting to know that a superior system must comply with operating practices that include but are not limited to: documenting, reporting, flushing, etc. This gives added assurance that procedures are being executed.


The water system is also required to be well-maintained and present a pleasing appearance to the public. While the general appearance of the facility does not affect the water quality, these requirements hold the system to a higher standard. The underlying principle includes other aspects associated with superiority in clean water; tidiness and transparency is not a quality exclusive to the product.


The Texas Rural Water Association works hard every day to protect rural Texas’ drinking water. We have resources and expert staff that help rural and small systems with a wide-range of issues, including compliance and legal challenges. We are passionately engaged in representing the interests of rural water at both the state and federal legislative levels. We are here to help ensure rural Texans have access to efficient service and clean, quality drinking water. We represent over 750 small and rural utilities that serve communities that enjoy #qualityontap and #drinklocalwater.

Tags:  contamination  drink local water  EPA  groundwater  rural water  superior status  Texas water  TRWA  water quality 

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Texting While Driving Banned Statewide

Posted By Allison Kaminsky, Friday, September 29, 2017

As of  September 1st, texting while driving within the state of Texas is punishable by a fine of $25-99 for first-time offenders, and $100-200 for repeat offenders (though no points will be assigned). The new law also states that if an accident caused by texting and driving results in the death or serious bodily injury of another person, they can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000 and confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year (in addition to any other charges/punishments).

It’s important to note that this new law only addresses “reading, writing, or sending electronic messages” via a “wireless communication device.” It is still legal for motorists in most cities to use their phone for GPS navigation, music apps, dialing phone numbers, etc., but drivers may still get pulled over if an officer suspects them of texting.

While the law includes a provision to preempt local texting-and-driving ordinances which already existed in over 100 cities, it does not address stricter cell phone bans (i.e., hands-free laws) put in place by at least 45 other Texas cities such as Austin, San Antonio, Denton and El Paso. Attempts made during the special session to roll back any city ordinances that ban mobile phone use beyond texting while driving were supported by Governor Abbott, but did not come to fruition. Cities are still free to pass (and enforce) hands-free laws within their city limits.


This new law adds to some existing laws that prohibit all drivers under 18 and school bus drivers from texting or making telephone calls while driving—even with a hands-free device. Texas also forbids use of phones in school zones. In 2010 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration finalized rules to restrict texting and the use of hand-held mobile phones by truck and bus drivers while operating a commercial motor vehicle.   

Tags:  #txlege  rural texas  rural water  Texas legislature  Texas water  TRWA  water operators 

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TRWA Provides Emergency Assistance to Systems Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

Posted By Allison Kaminsky, Friday, September 15, 2017

On Thursday, August 24, TRWA activated its Rural Water Emergency Assistance Cooperative (RWEAC) in anticipation of Hurricane Harvey making landfall on the Texas gulf coast.


RWEAC is TRWA’s emergency assistance program created to help small and rural water/wastewater systems in Texas in the event of a natural or manmade disaster or other emergency situations. RWEAC is available to help bridge the gap when personnel, equipment and other materials are needed to help protect the health and welfare of Texas communities and customers.


Governor Abbott initially identified 30 counties to be in a state of disaster. Our emergency response team reached out to all TRWA member utilities in those counties—totaling 73 systems— to provide information about RWEAC and to anticipate needs as the storm approached. We also reached out to our larger RWEAC and TRWA member network to let them know we were mobilizing and to find out who was available to help and in what way.


Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 Hurricane with winds of 130 mph near Rockport, Texas late Friday night. Over the next several days, Harvey moved very slowly, dropping 40-52 inches of rainfall in southeast Texas, causing catastrophic flooding.


Our RWEAC first responder team, consisting of seven TRWA staff members, began traveling to our first staging site at Nueces County WCID #3 on Monday, August 28, and spent their first several days in the Corpus Christi area visiting systems, making assessments and providing assistance. They then headed up the coast to our next staging site at Quail Creek SUD in Victoria to continue response efforts in the area, as well as to the north and east of Houston.


“Through the efforts of many people, we were able to get situated close enough that we could begin our onsite initial assessments and start coordinating efforts,” said Jason Knobloch, TRWA Environmental Services Director, who acted as the initial incident commander and disaster area manager. “Thankfully, due to lessons learned and proper preparation, the first few days consisted more of calls from people and systems wanting to help than from systems in need. When a need did get reported, it was a rewarding feeling to confidently assure them that they were not alone and we were working with them to resolve their problem. I’m grateful to work with such a committed group of people and member systems that are eager and willing to help wherever they can.”


By the beginning of week two, the Governor expanded the number of affected counties to 50, and our emergency response team continued to reach out to member systems in the area. To date, we have contacted over 200 systems in these areas to check on their status, identify those who need help and learn what type of help they may need, whether it be in the form of generators, manpower, equipment, supplies, etc. We have also been working in close communication with TX-Warn, another “systems helping systems” network, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to learn of affected utilities that may need assistance. 


TRWA owns and maintains seven generators as part of RWEAC, funded in part through a United States Department of Agriculture – Rural Development grant and through the TRWA disaster relief fund. TRWA has already helped a handful of systems with these generators, including Maruiceville SUD, the City of Smiley, Cape Carancahua WSC, River Oaks WSC, Nueces County WCID #4 and the City of Woodsboro.


Additionally, our larger network of TRWA members and RWEAC participants answered our call and offered equipment, supplies and manpower to help relief efforts. TRWA has been busy coordinating volunteers and resources from these systems. So far, 27 systems have received hands-on assistance from our first responders and RWEAC volunteers.


“When we put out the call for assistance, we received an outpour of support, not only from our RWEAC network, but from other organizations, such as the National Rural Water Association, other state rural water associations, USDA—RD, and CoBank. Knowing that we have our larger industry behind us has been so meaningful and heartwarming as we respond to this catastrophe. It really epitomizes what it means to be part of the rural water family,” said Lara Zent, TRWA Executive Director and General Counsel. 


For example, Holiday Beach WSC in Fulton requested assistance with finding and fixing leaks caused by power poles lifting and breaking water lines. TRWA identified RWEAC member Jonah SUD as having the appropriate resources available to help. Jonah SUD graciously sent manpower, machinery and materials to help them repair lines and to shut off meters running to damaged homes. Once they completed their assistance efforts, Jonah SUD then went on to help out other systems who needed additional manpower, including Orangefield WSC and Mauriceville SUD. Staff from Walker County SUD traveled to relieve the Jonah SUD volunteers on Thursday, September 7, and continue efforts to help Mauriceville SUD get their distribution system back on line.


Another RWEAC volunteer who has gone above and beyond is Allen Knight from North Collin SUD, who has worked with our TRWA first responders at a number of systems, including Mauriceville SUD, South Newton WSC and the City of Bevil Oaks.


“We just can’t say enough about all who helped throughout this event. The operators and utility staff who aren’t just employees, but live in the affected communities, worked tirelessly to restore safe water and sewer service even though they too were personally impacted,” said Celia Eaves, TRWA Professional Development and Training Director, who served as incident commander and disaster area manager after the first week of response efforts. “There was a willingness from other utilities to dedicate staff and resources to help their neighbors even though they’re over 300 miles away. It’s taking a collective effort to recover, and it couldn’t have been possible without the hard work and dedication to our industry that all these individuals have demonstrated.”


Harvey’s catastrophic impacts will be felt for months to come. As of the writing of this article, many communities east of Houston are still under water, so our team is waiting for the water to recede before traveling to that area and assessing the damage. Our first responders are still out in the field and doing all they can to help these communities get the safe quality drinking water they deserve.


Thank you to everyone who has reached out to offer resources in response to Hurricane Harvey. Remember, any water/wastewater utility in Texas can request emergency assistance from RWEAC by calling 1-866-586-6480, a toll free hotline that is staffed 24/7. It is free to become a member of RWEAC—systems can complete their application and mutual aid agreement online at


If you would like more information on RWEAC or how to participate in the cooperative, visit our website or you may email us at You may also donate to our disaster relief fund by visiting Together, we can help get these devastated areas back on the road to recovery.




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Tags:  #txwater  emergency assistance  hurricane harvey  rural texas  rural water  RWEAC  Texas water  TRWA  water quality 

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The Top 10 Bills You Need to Know About if You’re in the Texas Water Business

Posted By Allison Kaminsky, Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Texas 85th Regular Legislative Session came to a close on Memorial Day, and just under 18 percent of the 7,051 bills and resolutions that were filed were signed into law. With much fanfare on issues such as immigration and privacy, it would have been easy to overlook other important issues under consideration before the legislature. That’s why the Texas Rural Water Association Legislative Team tracked 638 bills and resolutions across 30 different categories that could pose challenges or offer opportunities for those of us in the water business. Here are the top 10 bills that passed, which will become effective on September 1, 2017 unless otherwise noted.


10. HB 1083 by Perez and Rodriguez amends the Water Code to allow the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to authorize an investor-owned utility (IOU) to establish a class of rates for elderly people at a lower rate than other classes, and allows for utilities to establish a fund to receive donations to recover the costs of providing these reduced rates. The new law prohibits recovery of costs through charges to other customers.

9. HB 1508 by Giddings and West amends the Occupations Code to require entities that provide educational programs that prepare an individual for issuance of an occupational license (which applies to TRWA) to notify each applicant of their potential ineligibility to obtain the license if they have certain criminal convictions.

8. HB 2647 by Stephenson and Taylor amends the Public Funds Investment Act to make interest-bearing banking deposits that are guaranteed or insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund authorized investments under the Act, with certain exceptions. This law became effective June 15, 2017.

7. SB 499 by West and Wray amends the Property Code to add the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act. The new law will impact who has the right to property after the owner’s passing, which may impact, for example, who would be entitled to membership in a water supply corporation (WSC).

6. HB 3047 by Dale and Schwertner amends the Open Meetings Act to specify that a member of a governmental body who participates in a meeting by videoconference call shall be considered absent from any portion of the meeting during which audio or video communication with the member is lost or disconnected.

5. SB 564 by Campbell and Capriglione amends Section 551.089 of the Open Meetings Act to allow a governmental entity to discuss in closed session matters regarding security of information resources technology, security personnel, critical infrastructure, and security devices; expanding on an existing provision in Section 55.076.

4. SB 1289 by Creighton and Paddie adds a new provision to the Government Code also referred to as the “Buy America” law. It requires political subdivisions, including water districts, to use U.S. produced steel and iron products in projects financed, refinanced or partially funded by money from a state governmental entity such as the TWDB, but provides some exceptions.

3. HB 1648 by Price and Seliger requires the TWDB to require a retail public utility that provides potable water service to 3,300 or more connections to designate a person as the water conservation coordinator responsible for implementing the water conservation plan and to notify the TWDB Executive Administrator of this person.

2. HB 1573 by Price and Creighton requires the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) to establish rules requiring water loss audits to be completed by a person trained to conduct water loss auditing. The bill requires the TWDB to make training on water loss auditing available without charge from the TWDB's website. The TWDB may provide training in person or by video or a functionally similar and widely available medium.

1. SB 79 by Nelson and Capriglione expands the Public Information Act to allow additional entities, including WSCs, to refer a requestor to an exact internet location or uniform resource locator (URL) address on a website as a method of producing information requested under the Act. The law requires the governmental body to provide the information in another format if the requestor prefers a manner other than access through the internet.


The Texas Rural Water Association works hard every day to protect rural Texas’ drinking water. We have resources and expert staff that help rural and small systems with a wide-range of issues, including compliance and legal challenges. We are passionately engaged in representing the interests of rural water at both the state and federal legislative levels. We are here to help ensure rural Texans have access to efficient service and clean, quality drinking water. We represent over 750 small and rural utilities that serve communities that enjoy #qualityontap and #drinklocalwater.

Tags:  #txlege  #txwater  drink local water  legislature  quality on tap  rural texas  rural water  Texas legislature  Texas water  TRWA  water quality 

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