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What are the Responsibilities of your Water Utility’s Board of Directors?

Posted By TRWA Communications , Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Your water or sewer utility is governed by a board of directors.  Do you know who they are and what they do? Here are three things you might not know about who is serving on your water system’s board of directors.

  • They are your neighbors: Water Districts and Water Supply Corporations are typically governed by people whose families drink the water every day.  They are elected by their fellow community members to serve on the water system board of directors.
  • They are volunteers: These board members are volunteers who devote their time and energy to providing a better quality of life for their community by ensuring a clean supply of drinking water and/or sewer services. These individuals realize the importance of these services to the sustainability and public health of their communities.
  • They are ambassadors:  They are the public’s representative to help oversee the water system, and they are also the system’s representative to tell the system’s story to the media and the public.

Now you know a little more about who is governing your water system, but do you know what they actually do? The specifics may change based on the size of the system, but generally, here are eight things your water or sewer system’s board of directors are responsible for:

  1. POLICY: The governing body’s major role is to develop policy, while leaving operations to the water system’s staff. However, in very small systems with part-time or volunteer staff, the board may help operate the system. Policies set by the board are the “how to” of running a utility and cover all aspects of the organization, varying in scope from rates and customer service polices to purchasing/ procurement policies to personnel policies.

  2. UNDERSTANDING REGULATIONS: There are many federal and state regulations and laws that affect your water and/or sewer system and how it does business. It is a responsibility of the water system’s board of directors to keep abreast of them and ensure the system and its business operations are in compliance.

  3. PLANNING: One of the board’s jobs is to look forward and try to best position the system for the future. Managing a water or sewer utility is expensive and extensive, so it is up to the board to determine goals and objectives and major ways to achieve them. This includes securing future water supplies, asset management, financial security, customer relations and recruiting for future board members, just to name a few.  Just like managing our personal finances and assets, water and sewer systems must be constantly planning for short-term and long-term needs.

  4. BUDGETS: The board approves the system’s annual budget and periodically reviews its progress to ensure the system is on track to meet its goals for the year. The budgeting process helps the board focus on the system’s mission, assess if planned expenditures are achieving the desired results, determine operational and capital spending, and highlight key measures of performance.

  5. MANAGEMENT: A water or sewer utility’s board of directors has just one employee—the utility manager. The board recruits, selects, compensates, appraises and (if necessary) terminates the utility manager. The utility manager then manages the rest of the staff and implements the board’s policies.

  6. MONITOR SYSTEM PERFORMANCE: The board of directors is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the water or wastewater utility, but they do monitor the overall performance of the system. This information is gathered through monthly reports, customer feedback, and audits. The board uses this information to gauge the success of their short-range and long-range planning.

  7. MEETINGS: There are two major reasons for a board meeting—discussing and deciding on water system business. It is the board’s responsibility to set and post the agenda, and then conduct business openly, lawfully and ethically.

  8. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: Man-made and natural disasters, along with everyday breakdowns of facilities and equipment, can drastically affect your water or sewer system’s ability to meet the customers’ needs. The board of directors is responsible for ensuring there are emergency plans in place to guide the system’s board and staff on what to do in a crisis.
Essentially, water and sewer utility boards are responsible for ensuring that their system is well staffed, well maintained, meets all state and federal requirements and is prepared to serve the current and future needs of the community. Your local water or wastewater utility stands at the intersection of three major public policy areas: public health, environmental protection and local economic growth; and the board of directors must ensure that the utility successfully meets the demands of all three. 

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Simple Ways to Protect Your Public Water Supply

Posted By Quentin Turner, FMT Assistance Specialist, TRWA , Wednesday, August 14, 2019

As utility customers, most of us don’t realize how often we cause our water system difficulties when we use one of the simplest of devices at our disposal—the dreaded “garden hose.”


The garden hose has probably been responsible for more problems related to water systems than any other single piece of equipment in the world. The garden hose can create so much trouble because it is so user friendly and easy to connect, but it’s also so easy to forget! Regardless of whether it is connected, it looks so innocent just sitting there. However, there are multiple misuses of the garden hose.


Have you ever left the garden hose in the dog’s watering bowl, a horse trough, AG spray tank, hooked to a one-quart garden sprayer or soap dispenser for washing your car/truck? In the event of a backflow event (the water system has a leak and enough water reverses flow toward the leak to create an area of low pressure), a vacuum can occur and will suck the water, along with whatever is in it, back through the garden hose, into your plumbing, into the water system, then to your neighbor, and so on and so on. Imagine the possibilities.


Now think about the individual that tries to unstop a clogged drain, or heaven forbid, the sewer line with a garden hose. What happens when the system has that same leak a mile down the road? It doesn’t matter if you live on the other side of the road or next door, because it’s usually the same water main feeding everyone. Now my hope and prayer is that the individual trying to clean the sewer line with the garden hose doesn’t decide to take a drink from that hose anytime in the future.

One of the lessons I learned long ago was reinforced in the lines of a Spiderman movie I watched: “With great power comes great responsibility.” We as customers of a water system have some power—we get to vote on the individuals that represent our interests, in most cases. So therefore, we also have a responsibility to help ensure the integrity of our water system.


There are several ways that we as customers can help. Don’t leave the hose in the bucket, trough, tank or pool. Another way is to see if your plumbing contains a simple $5-$10 device known as a “hose bibb vacuum breaker.” If you don’t have those, you can purchase them at most hardware stores. It’s a pretty cheap way to help protect an entire water system. You can also contact your water system and ask them for information or an inspection. All water systems are required to provide a Cross Connection Control Program. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) monitors this when they perform a system inspection and most all water systems have an on-staff or contracted certified Customer Service Inspector to do individual home/business inspections. They may also use a Licensed Plumber. Most water systems would be glad to do an inspection even if they have done one for you in the past. Things change and need to be looked at again and updated.


The garden hose is not the only problem, but it is one of the most common. As a homeowner you may install and maintain your own irrigation system. It’s still important to have a suitable backflow prevention assembly in place and to be sure that it works properly. TCEQ requires you to have a licensed backflow tester check the assembly when it is installed. Always check with your water provider for specific regulations.  Your water system is also trained to deal with contamination issues at hospitals, mortuaries, vet clinics, chemical plants—the list goes on with anything that could cause health problems by passing through the water system. Water system operators are trained to monitor the system, identify potential hazards, and help determine the appropriate means to offset the dangers.


I’ll leave you with one last example. Have you ever heard of “Blue Ice Cubes”? Several things need to happen at the same time to create this issue, but they did on at least one occasion that I’m aware of.  Many years ago, maybe still in some areas, folks were fond of the “Tidy Bowl Man” blue liquid placed in the toilet tank to help clean and disinfect the toilet bowl. There was an unapproved fill valve (ball cock) in place and when the toilet was flushed, a new stream of blue filled the tank. At the same time there was a water leak down the road causing backflow and the refrigerator ice maker valve opened to fill the ice tray. The next day, Blue Ice Cubes! Y’all get the picture. This could have been prevented if the customer had requested the water system’s CSI Inspector or a Plumber do a home inspection because they would have identified the fill valve that needed to be replaced in the toilet to prevent the cross-connection.


All systems should be vigilant in preventing cross-contamination of their water supplies.  TCEQ has put forth this guidance on backflow prevention issues, including examples of common cross-connections, methods for preventing cross-connections, and testing of backflow-prevention assemblies.  This guidance is useful for water systems, but we recommend sharing it with your customers because it breaks down cross-connection and backflow issues in an easy-to-understand manner! 


 Attached Files:
gi-411-09.16.pdf (380.85 KB)

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How Does Bottled Water Measure Up? Five Reasons to Choose tap

Posted By TRWA Communications , Monday, July 29, 2019
Bottled or tap? It seems like a simple question, but do you know the answer? More than $100 billion is spent each year on bottled water around the world, so at that steep price you might assume the bottled version is worth the cost. In most cases you would be wrong. In the U.S., consumers are better served by simply turning on the tap and drinking the water provided by their local water system. Read on for the top five reasons to choose tap over bottled water. 

1. It saves you money: Bottled water costs at least 1,000 times more per gallon than tap water, and 25 percent of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle, sometimes treated further and sometimes not. 

2. It’s better for the environment: Millions of tons of plastic bottles are clogging our landfills and it takes 1.63 liters of water to make every liter of bottled water.

3. It’s safer than bottled water: Tap water is typically safer than bottled water because it is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), whereas bottled water is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Tap water must be disinfected, filtered to remove pathogens and tested for cryptosporidium and giardia viruses. Bottled water does not have to be. Although both are tested for bacteria and most synthetic organic chemicals, tap water’s purity and safety are assessed more frequently. 

4. It assures quality: All tap water suppliers must provide annual quality reports to their customers. Regulation of bottled water in most states does not require assurances to customers of either purity or safety. 

5. It’s healthier: Chemicals in plastic bottles can leach over time into the water, especially when the water has been stored in the bottle over a period of time. 

These are just some of the many reasons to choose the tap over cracking the cap of a bottled water. Learn more about this topic at the following links:
Natural Resource Defense Council:
National Geographic: 
Money Crashers: 
Environmental Working Group: 

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Best Practices for Consumers: Staying Secure Online

Posted By TRWA Commmunications, Monday, July 8, 2019

As more people and businesses use online services, they become more vulnerable to cyber criminals and hackers. Water utilities abide by certain practices to best protect the utility and its customers’ information, but there are additional measures consumers can take to minimize your risk.

Credit Card Processing

Although a water system’s billing processes are Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant, incorporating a few practices into your daily routine can help keep your cards and account numbers safe. For example, keep a record of your account numbers, their expiration dates and the phone number to report fraud for each company in a secure place.

Do your best to only use established businesses that you can contact easily if there’s an issue. Look for sites with “https:” in their web addresses — as the “s” stands for secured. Even if you’re on a secured site, don’t share your information unless you have to and you know how it will be used.

Furthermore, don’t share your account information to anyone via phone or email unless you’ve made the call to a company you know to be reputable. Avoid sharing this information via email unless you have encrypted it in a reliable way.

Identifying Spam and Scams: Gone Phishing

Phishing is a type of online scam where you receive an email that appears to be from a legitimate company or individual, but instead is a scam intended to solicit sensitive information from you in one way or another. This is usually done by providing a link to what appears to be a reputable website but is really a façade and the information you provide instead ends up in the wrong hands. More sophisticated scams include using the names of recognizable colleagues who are likely not to be in the office, requests to update account information or fraudulent links to share documents or information. To protect yourself from phishing scams, here are a few things you can do:

  • Review the email address – Is it actually coming from a credible address, or is the display just piggybacking on a trustworthy organization or individual? If the email is not addressed to you specifically, pay closer attention to the text and context of the email. Sometimes the reply path email address is different than the sending email address, which is another great indicator that the email is fraudulent.
  • Confirm credibility – Before making any purchases or agreements, confirm details through a second communication channel (phone, text or in-person confirmation). Often, repeated grammatical errors and resistance to further or different communication indicate foul play. If sentences or word placement do not make sense, or the wrong words are capitalized throughout the body of the email, stop skimming and pay closer attention.

Best Practices for Cyber Users

Here are a few general tips to help ensure your sensitive information stays out of the wrong hands:

  • Identify your most sensitive accounts, such as your bank account, and be intentional about elevating their security.
  • Use “$tr0ng3R” passwords and update them regularly. There are several smartphone apps that you can use to securely store your passwords.
  • Equip yourself for success by layering your protection: A password is the first line of defense against cybercriminals. When possible, use multifactor authentication (security systems that require more than one method of authentication from independent categories of credentials to verify the user's identity for a login or other transaction) for an added layer of protection.
  • Keep your operating system, browser and other critical software up to date with the latest security patches to minimize vulnerabilities.
  • Be cautious of what you share and engage with on public Wi-Fi; limit the amount of personal information you share online or elsewhere.
  • Monitor your accounts regularly, respond to fraud alerts and report unauthorized transactions promptly.
  • Avoid clicking website pop up ads or bad links. Before clicking on anything stop, think and check if it is expected, valid and trusted. If you accidentally engage with a fraudulent website, use the task manager to kill the process. If you are unable to do this, hard restart your device.


All consumers should stay alert and reduce their likelihood of an attack by proceeding with caution – there’s no magic solution to avoiding breaches of cybersecurity, but the more safeguards you take, the better.

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10 Things That Impact Your Water Rate

Posted By TRWA Communications , Monday, June 24, 2019

When it comes to our water utility service, most people are simply concerned with three things: is it on, is it safe and how much is it costing me? Your water utility takes care of the first two items behind the scenes, but the third item is what you see in the mail every month. You may wonder—why does my water cost what it does?


There are many factors that play into the service, quality and quantity of drinking water you receive from your local utility, and they all impact the rate you pay for it. 


Here are 10 things you may not realize impact your water rate:


1) Regulations:  The water and wastewater industry is heavily regulated for the sake of safety.  Your water utiitymust comply with hundreds of regulations that require a lot of time, equipment and expertise, all of which cost money.

2) Capital Improvements:  The concept of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t apply here.  Proper planning to meet growth demands, complying with capacity requirements and replacing aging infrastructure is a best management practice and saves money in the long run. 

3) Electricity:  It takes power to run the pumps and operate the treatment processes to provide the quality and pressure required.   

4) Water Supply:  It is costly to drill wells, obtain regulatory approvals and permits or purchase water from a wholesale provider.

5) Facilities:  A basic groundwater system with one well needs a pumping well, pressure and/or storage tank(s), chemicals and injection equipment, and a building and site to place everything.  These can run over a million dollars.  For utilities that have multiple well sites and/or pump and treat surface water have invested many millions to provide safe water to its customers.

6) Treatment: Treatment of water varies depending on the geographical location in the state, as well as the type and location of water being treated.  Regardless, every water utility must treat to the acceptable levels provided in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Act and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s regulations. 

7) Personnel:  Utilities employ general managers, operators and administrative staff. Water and Wastewater operators are specialized professionals trained to safeguard the public they serve.  To attract and retain excellent staff, utilities must pay competitive wages.

8) Technology: Technological advancements have been made to provide accurate, real-time data for water utilities in areas such as water conservation, water quality monitoring and smart meter technology for better service to customers.  It has also allowed the opportunity for many systems to accept credit cards, do business through websites and have online bill pay.

9)  Future Water Supply:  Texas averages around 350,000 new residents each year.  Identifying options and making the necessary steps toward obtaining and securing water for continual service to current and new customers plays a big part in how rates are set.   

10)  Communication: Your utility is a phone call away.  Whether in the office or after hours, communication has allowed for faster response times to resolve outages and issues in the system.   

Though necessary for everyday life, the price you pay for water is likely a small percentage of what you pay for many of the other modern conveniences we have available to us. So, the next time you look at your water bill, think of all the things that go into bringing safe, flowing drinking water into your home or business each and every day. The price you pay for your water service is an investment in a strong, safe and sustainable water system that is necessary for the future sustainability of your community.


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What is the Farm Bureau's Beef with Rural Water Utilities?

Posted By Trent Hightower, TRWA Assistant General Counsel and Morgan Johnson, Associate at McGinnis Lochridge , Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Texas Farm Bureau recently published an article in its monthly magazine entitled “The Public Wants Landowners’ Water,” in which it characterizes legislation promoted by the Texas Rural Water Association as “an unconstitutional water grab.”  This is simply not true.  The legislation, House Bill 2249 by Rep. Eddie Lucio, III, strikes a balance between the rights of landowners within a water utility’s service area and the obligation of utilities to provide adequate water supply to meet the demand of their landowner customers.

Groundwater conservation districts, or “GCDs,” are responsible for managing production from aquifers within their geographic boundaries by requiring permits for the production.  The law currently allows, but does not require, GCDs to take into account a utility’s service area when deciding how much water the utility is authorized to produce.  This makes sense considering the unique functions and legal obligations of water utilities.  A water utility is not your typical applicant for groundwater – utilities do not ordinarily own large amounts of acreage, and they are seeking water to serve all of their customers, including residences, businesses, and agricultural users.  Utilities produce water not for themselves, but on behalf of hundreds or perhaps thousands of their customers.  While the utility’s customers are free to drill a well on their own property, doing so is often cost-prohibitive.  Therefore, customers look to the water utility to provide the water since the utility is able to take advantage of economies of scale to produce the necessary water for its customers at a lower cost. 


Recognizing the unique nature of water utilities, many GCDs across Texas take a utility’s service area into account when issuing the utility’s groundwater permits.  For those GCDs, nothing would change if House Bill 2249 becomes law.  This bill would require all other GCDs that regulate by acreage and/or tract size and do not consider service area to consider the utility’s service area.  The bill does this while still ensuring that this requirement does not interfere in any way with a landowner’s right to obtain a permit or drill a well.  Without recognizing a utility’s service area, the acreage-based approach to permitting has devastating effects on rural communities.  With only a small amount of land owned by the utility for its well site, utilities in this type of permitting scheme are required to obtain additional land or water rights at a high cost that is then passed on to consumers.  Worse, when a GCD ties production to an applicant’s contiguous acreage, utilities can find themselves unable to fully utilize their wells if adjacent landowners are unwilling to sell their land or lease their water rights. 

To balance the interests of utilities, their customers, and landowners within their service area, House Bill 2249 includes several safeguards to ensure that water utilities are not over-permitted and that landowner rights are protected.  First, GCDs cannot consider any of the utility’s service area that does not overlie the aquifer.  Additionally, the utility would not receive credit for any acreage within its service area that is already subject to another permit, and the utility’s permit will be reduced annually to subtract acreage assigned to a landowner permit issued after the utility’s permit.  Under the bill, utilities are prohibited from interfering with or protesting landowners’ requests to obtain their own permits.


House Bill 2249 is a reasonable compromise to the complex issue of allocating a managed resource among competing interests while keeping water rates reasonable for rural communities and ensuring that landowners’ property rights are not restricted.  House Bill 2249 does not create an unconstitutional taking as the Farm Bureau asserts.  It does not take or constrain the landowner’s right to drill a well, use the water or encumber the water.  It only allows the utility to use the water to serve these same landowners.  Landowner rights are recognized and are superior to the utilities’ authorization to use the water.  Requiring these utilities to acquire groundwater rights from its landowner customers will unnecessarily result in huge rate increases.


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Your Smart Watering Guide

Posted By TRWA Communications , Monday, January 28, 2019

With today’s common watering practices, up to 50 percent of the water applied to lawns and gardens is not absorbed by the plants. It is lost through evaporation, runoff, or being pushed beyond the root zone because it is applied too quickly or in excess of the plants’ needs. The goal of efficient irrigation is to reduce these losses by applying only as much water as is needed to keep your plants healthy, whether you have a water-smart or a conventional landscape.


To promote the strong root growth that supports a plant during drought, water deeply and water only when the plant needs it. For clay soils, it is recommended to water less deeply, and in multiple cycles. Irrigating with consideration to soil type, the condition of your plants, the season, and weather conditions— rather than on a fixed schedule—significantly improves your watering efficiency and results in healthier plants. Grouping plants according to similar water needs also makes watering easier and more efficient.


Lawns, gardens, and landscapes can be irrigated manually or with an automatic irrigation system. Manual watering with a handheld hose tends to be the most water efficient method. According to the American Water Works Association (AWWA) Research Foundation’s Residential End Uses of Water study, households that manually water with a hose typically use 33 percent less water outdoors than the average household. The study also showed that households with in-ground sprinkler systems used 35 percent more water; those with automatic timers used 47 percent more water; and those with drip irrigation systems used 16 percent more water than households without these types of systems. These results show that in-ground sprinkler and drip irrigation systems must be operated properly to be water-efficient.


Watering Mistakes

Much of the water applied to lawns and gardens never gets absorbed by the plants. Common ways that water is wasted include:

  • Runoff: Applying water too rapidly causes runoff, because grass and plants can only absorb so much water at a time. When runoff occurs, soil, fertilizers, and pesticides can be carried to nearby streams.
  • Evaporation: Watering in the middle of the day or using a sprinkler that sprays a fine mist causes much of the water you apply to be lost through evaporation. Plants don’t have enough time to absorb the water before it is evaporated by the sun.
  • Underwatering: Watering too little is wasteful because it does little to alleviate any drought stress that the plants may have.
  • Overwatering: Applying too much or too often causes the greatest waste of water. In addition to overwatering the plant, excessive irrigation can leach nutrients deep into the soil away from plant roots, which increases the chances of runoff pollution.

Good Watering Techniques

The key to watering lawns is to apply water infrequently, yet thoroughly. This creates a deep, well-rooted lawn that efficiently uses the water that is stored in the soil. To know when to water your lawn, simply observe the grass. Wilting and discoloration are signs of water stress. At the first sign of wilting, you have 24 to 48 hours before damage occurs.


To water properly, apply 1 inch of water to the lawn as rapidly as possible without runoff. An easy way to measure your application of water is to place a 6-ounce tuna can on your lawn. When the can is full, you have applied enough water. If you start to notice runoff before the can is full, turn off the water. Then, wait for approximately one hour to allow the grass to absorb the water, turn the water on again, and wait for the tuna can to fill.


Water early in the morning, before 10 a.m. Avoid watering from mid-morning to late afternoon, when you can lose one-third of your water to evaporation. Also avoid watering in the evening, because lawns and plants that are left wet overnight are more prone to disease.


Different areas of your yard may have different watering requirements. Some plants and trees may require less water than grass does. You can reduce the sprinkler run time for these areas. A licensed irrigator can advise you on irrigation application rates for your geographic area, topography, soil conditions, and other factors.


For “hose-end” sprinklers, make sure the sprinkler heads are adjusted to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways or other hard surfaces. A hose-end sprinkler head should spray large droplets of water instead of a fog of fine mist, which may be affected by wind drift. Set a timer, so that you remember to turn off the hose-end sprinkler.

All this in mind, please remember to always comply with your water system’s water use restrictions.



When it comes to a home's irrigation system, a little maintenance goes a long way. Permanent sprinkler systems require regular maintenance and adjustments. This can be done by you, a licensed irrigator, or licensed master plumber.

  • Check your settings at least quarterly to make sure that water is being applied properly and make adjustments as needed. It is important to ensure you are providing adequate water but are not overwatering. Depending on where you live, you may need to winterize your system in the late fall to prevent freezing of system components.
  • Check your sprinkler heads regularly. Remove any dirt or debris that may be clogging the nozzle and make sure that water is flowing at the proper pressure.
  • Examine points where the sprinkler heads connect to pipes or hoses. If water pools in your landscape or you have large wet areas, you could have a leak in your system. A leak about as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen (or 1/32nd of an inch) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month, so if you find a leak, repair it promptly! 

Smart Watering Technology

With automatic systems, overwatering is most common during the fall when summer irrigation schedules have not been adjusted to the cooler temperatures. Irrigation system schedules should always be adjusted down in the fall to prevent overwatering in the colder months.

Using water-efficient technologies can make a big difference in keeping your residential or light commercial irrigation system running efficiently without a lot of effort on your part. 

  •  WaterSense Labeled Irrigation Controllers – To make automatic irrigation systems more efficient, consider upgrading your standard clock timer to a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller. These irrigation controllers are a type of "smart" irrigation control technology that uses local weather data to determine when and how much to water. With proper installation, programming, and adjustments, these smart controllers can help consumers save water, time, and money when compared to use of a conventional controller.
  • WaterSense Labeled Spray Sprinkler Bodies – WaterSense labeled spray sprinkler bodies, which feature integral pressure regulation, can help decrease the outdoor water waste associated with irrigation systems that receive water under higher pressure.
  • Microirrigation – Microirrigation can reduce the likelihood of overwatering a landscape by delivering water directly to where it is needed most, the root zone of plants, preventing runoff and reducing evaporation.
  • Soil Moisture Sensors – Soil moisture-based control technologies water plants based on their needs by measuring the amount of moisture in the soil and tailoring the irrigation schedule accordingly. This will prevent waste by ensuring that the sprinkler does not turn on during and immediately after rainfall or when soil moisture levels are above pre-programmed levels.
  • Rainfall Shutoff Devices – Rainfall shutoff devices turn off your system in rainy weather and help compensate for natural rainfall. This inexpensive device can be retrofitted to almost any system.
  • Rain Sensors – Rain sensors can help decrease water wasted in the landscape by turning off the irrigation system when it is raining.


EPA WaterSense, Landscaping Tips:

EPA WaterSense, Watering Tips:

Landscape Irrigation, A “Take Care of Texas” Guide. Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Take Care of Texas:

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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. 

Download File (PDF)

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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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