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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 www.trwa.org/rweac.

 

If you would like more information on RWEAC or how to participate in the cooperative, visit our website or you may email us at rweac@trwa.org. You may also donate to our disaster relief fund by visiting www.trwa.org/donations. 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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NRWA Meets with EPA Administrator Pruitt

Posted By Allison Kaminsky, Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, May 9, 2017

On Friday May 5, National Rural Water Association (NRWA) Officers and staff met with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in Tulsa, Okla. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce the association to the Administrator and offer the association’s expertise and experience as a resource in regulatory affairs as they relate to rural and small community water and wastewater systems.

 

The discussions centered on regulatory fixes as identified by NRWA membership to include consecutive system issues, TMDLs and others. The Administrator stressed that the agency was in the review process of regulatory issues and encouraged the association to formerly submit comments. The attendees encouraged the agency to view rural and small systems as protectors of public health and the environment as opposed to a regulatory burden.

 

“I was very pleased that Administrator Pruitt agreed that there should be a cost benefit analysis performed on proposed regulations before they are enacted,” said NRWA Board Secretary Kent Watson, who also serves as Board Director for the Texas Rural Water Association and manages Wickson Creek Special Utility District in Bryan, Texas. 

 

“The meeting was very informative and the open discussion was very meaningful,” said NRWA President Steve Fletcher, who manages Washington County Water Company. “Hopefully this meeting is the start of a collaborative process that results in more affordability consideration in the regulatory review and processes.”

 

Senior Vice President Steve Wear, Manager of Conway County Regional Water in Arkansas; Vice President David Baird, District Coordinator, Sussex Conservation District in Delaware; Treasurer John O’Connell, Deputy Chief Operator, City of Cortland, New York; NRWA CEO Sam Wade; and NRWA Deputy CEO Matt Holmes also attended the meeting. 

Tags:  drink local water  EPA  quality on tap  rural water  water quality 

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White House Proposed Budget Cuts Endanger Rural Water & Wastewater Programs

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 20, 2017

On Thursday, the White House’s fiscal 2018 budget blueprint contained a 21 percent cut to USDA’s discretionary spending. This proposed budget would eliminate the USDA water and wastewater loan and grant program, as well as the water circuit rider program, wastewater training and technical assistance program, and energy efficiency assessment program. These programs have been the lifeline for rural water and small communities in Texas and across Rural America.

Instead, the Administration is placing its confidence with the EPA State Revolving Loan Funds. Approximately 75 percent of State Revolving Loan funding goes to systems serving over 10,000 population. Additionally, in Texas, these funds are primarily allocated to systems with compliance issues, so the larger community of rural water systems would not be able to rely solely on these funds for support.

 

There are approximately 52,000 community water supplies in the nation, of which 92 percent serve less than 10,000 population. In 2016, USDA Rural Utilities Service dedicated their funding exclusively to Rural America — 85 percent of projects were for small communities, with populations of 5,000 or less. The USDA Water and Environmental Program is a vital lifeline for rural residents funding the water infrastructure we rely on today.

 

We urge systems who have utilized any of these programs to get involved. If you have received or plan to receive funding from the USDA for infrastructure projects, benefit from your visits with your circuit rider, or rely on the expertise of our wastewater technicians, then please reach out to your congressional representatives. Tell them that investing in these USDA programs will forward the President’s mission to address the nation’s aging infrastructure in rural communities. Let them know that these programs have been effective for 70 years, that your system relies on them for financial and technical support, and that eliminating them would be detrimental for rural America. Visit http://whoismyrepresentative.com if you need help identifying your representative.

 

Established in 1969, the Texas Rural Water Association is a statewide nonprofit association dedicated to the improvement of water quality and supply in rural Texas. With an active membership consisting of nearly 750 nonprofit water supply corporations, special utility districts, municipal utility districts, small-town water departments, investor-owned utilities and individual members, TRWA members provide water and wastewater service to over 2.5 million customers throughout the state. The Association supports these members by providing them with on-site technical assistance, education and informational programs and representation in legislative and regulatory processes at both the state and federal level.  

Tags:  drink local water  funding  legislature  quality on tap  rural texas  rural water  Texas water  TRWA  USDA  water quality 

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TRWA Office Gets New Mural

Posted By Allison Kaminsky, Monday, February 27, 2017

Austin artist J Muzacz really knocked it out of the park with this beautiful mural he painted in our front staircase. He married our ideas of Texas rural water with his unique artistic vision and came up with this stained glass scene that will inspire our staff and visitors when they enter our office. The next time you're in Austin, please come by to experience it in person!

Thank you to J Muzacz for his hard work, and to SprATX for setting us up with an artist who was a perfect fit for our Association!

Tags:  art  mural  rural texas  rural water  Texas water  TRWA 

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Most People Don’t Know These 10 Things about Being a Water Utility Operator

Posted By Allison Kaminsky, Thursday, February 23, 2017

You may not realize it, but water utility operators play an important role in our society. Every day, certified water operators are ensuring we have safe drinking water by maintaining equipment and processes to monitor and affect water as it moves through the treatment and distribution cycles. The following are 10 things most people don’t know about the occupation that helps ensure our public health, making such a large impact on our lives on a daily basis.

  1. Drinking water operator certification is managed on a state-by-state basis. In Texas, licensing requirements are managed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Operators can be licensed in a variety of areas, including water, wastewater, distribution and reuse.
  2. Texas has required all public water systems to have a licensed operator since the 1950s, though the EPA did not require licensed operators for public water systems until 2001.
  3. Public water system operators must have at least a high school diploma or a GED, as well have required training courses and experience to test for their license. They then must renew their license every three years, requiring continuing education hours to do so.
  4. There are several levels of licensure for being a water operator. As an operator advances from a “D” to an “A” license level, their expertise expands, including a strong working knowledge of math and chemistry necessary to ensure proper chemical dosages.
  5. One major task of water operators is to disinfect our drinking water and maintain a disinfection residual, usually a form of chlorine, in the distribution system. A residual is a low level of the disinfectant that remains in the water after its initial application to protect against waterborne contaminants.
  6. To ensure the water is properly safeguarded, the water operator conducts daily tests to measure the disinfectant residual in the water distribution system.
  7. Water operators must flush all dead-end mains, and also must flush water distribution lines when they receive customer complaints. Once flushing starts, the operator cannot stop flushing until the water is clear and the desired chlorine residual is reached.
  8. Fire hydrants and flush valves are designed to catch “trash” in the water and provide a place to remove this “trash” from the distribution system. This is why fire hydrants and flush valves usually flow “dirty” water when they are first opened.
  9. On a monthly basis, water operators are required to take bacteriological samples from the water distribution system and have these samples tested by a state-approved laboratory.
  10. Operators are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to make repairs and respond to emergencies on the water system.

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. TRWA provides classroom and online training courses to help Texas water and wastewater operators get the training they need. 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  education  quality on tap  rural water  Texas water  water operators  water quality 

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