THE NATIONAL Rural Water Association (NRWA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to training, supporting, and promoting the water and wastewater professionals that serve small and rural communities across the country.
NRWA provides training and technical assistance through 49 state affiliated State Rural Water Associations that currently have more than 31,000 utility system members. Rural Water training and technical assistance covers every aspect of operating, managing and financing water and wastewater utilities through multiple federally funded programs. NRWA programs generally focus on assisting small and rural communities that serve less than 10,000 people. However, State Associations work in different ways with all sized systems, with many large cities demonstrating their support for Rural Water as members.
The NRWA Circuit Rider Program is made up of 49 state Rural Water Associations (CT/RI are combined as one) and Puerto Rico, totaling 147 Circuit Riders in the U.S. These Circuit Riders provide hands-on training and technical assistance to small, rural water systems on an everyday basis, 24/7. Personal, professional assistance is at the heart of the Circuit Rider program. On-site help is delivered when and where a rural community needs it.
“Circuit Riders have provided technical assistance more than 700,000 times to help rural systems and communities since 2009,” said Rita Clary, NRWA Circuit Rider Program Manager.
The purpose of the Wastewater Program is to protect that nation’s multibillion- dollar investment in rural and small municipal water/wastewater systems by providing on-site technical assistance, which ensures cost-effective operations and adequate income for both operations and debt service within each state. There are 65 dedicated and talented Wastewater Technicians throughout the country working through their State Rural Water Association. The primary goal of these technicians is to assist small, rural and economically challenged communities to enhance and maintain the financial stability of their wastewater systems through technical assistance and/or training.
The Apprenticeship Program provides standards and guidelines to State Associations so they can build their own program to hire and train apprentices in their state. Through these programs, apprentices can earn while they learn and emerge with a secure career as a water or wastewater operations specialist. With a declining workforce, this program has proved essential to provide future water and wastewater operators.
The NRWA Source Water Protection Program is built around small water utilities, local businesses, agriculture, government, and other groups working together to develop and implement strategies to protect their drinking water sources. This cooperative program has made significant progress in reducing point source pollution from industrial, agricultural, municipal, and even household sources. The program has also made progress in the challenging area of nonpoint source pollution.
NRWA’s Energy Efficiency Technical Assistance Program is designed to promote energy efficient practices in small water and wastewater systems. Funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service, the program performs energy assessments, recommends energy efficient practices and technologies, and provides support following recommendations. Technical support includes assisting with presentations to governing boards, accessing financing, training, and developing documentation.
The USDA loan and grant program helps very small, financially distressed rural communities extend and improve water and waste treatment facilities that serve local households and businesses. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements, business development, housing, community services such as schools, public safety and health care, and high-speed internet access in rural areas. It can be used to finance drinking water, storm water drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.
The Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance Assistance Program is designed to strengthen the technical capacity in small water systems, ultimately resulting in the reduction of the number of systems out of compliance with health-based standards. The Training Specialists provide technical assistance in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act to small public water system personnel by working directly with them on-site at their system. Training Specialists use NRWA’s nationwide pool of expertise to provide diagnostic and troubleshooting assistance for operational and compliancerelated problems.
The National Rural Water Association also creates multiple public relations and outreach campaigns to promote a positive image of the water and wastewater industry to the public. Americans often take for granted that they have the highest quality, most affordable water, piped directly to their homes and businesses. This level of quality is accomplished because of dedicated professionals that take pride in their hard work, education, and service to the community. They also provide resources and information on current issues in the industry to our State Associations like the COVID-19 pandemic, PFAS, and Disaster Response during natural disasters.
Clean drinking water and safe wastewater treatment are vital to the health and safety of Americans. With the support of the State Associations, NRWA strives to protect the quality of life in America, while supporting the grassroots efforts required to help rural communities thrive. For more information, please visit www.nrwa.org.