There is probably no other environmental area where the adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” has as much meaning as it does with assets such as drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. It is our goal as Technical Assistance Providers to aid communities to better understand technical, managerial, and financial necessities of their utility’s infrastructure. In doing so, we hope the community itself will self-engage and be more proactive in addressing the system’s shortcomings and thus be a sustainable utility into the future.
MAP will be offering a free course: A Team Approach to Board Training – A Sustainable Utility Management Training Course, on July 11th, 2012 at the Sawmill Hotel and Convention Center in Grand Rapids, MN. Training topics include board responsibilities, legal meetings, finance and reporting, owner’s manual, rate adjustments, hiring an engineer, and emergency response plans/vulnerability assessments. Completion of this workshop leaves a public water system with valuable tools about their drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. MAP staff will provide you with the tools and information you need to be the best purveyor of your drinking water and wastewater system.
A few weeks ago MAP staff conducted an energy audit in Windsor, MO. The completed audit will contain recommendations for reducing energy costs in their city offices and water and wastewater utilities. Let’s face it – in this economy, we’re all looking for ways to save money. SmallWaterSupply.org has posted information on their blog about an easy-to-use tool developed by the US EPA to help small-to-medium sized water and wastewater systems conduct a utility bill and equipment analysis to determine their individual baseline energy use and costs. This is a great first step before conducting a full-scale energy audit. You’ll also find a handout you can download that explains Understanding Your Electric Bill, as well as information about an upcoming US EPA webinar that will help you to find out how your system can become more energy-efficient by using this simple tool.
MAP has assisted the Oglala Sioux Lakota Tribe with numerous water, wastewater and solid waste projects. Yesterday, MAP staff visited the Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority, the newly renovated Pine Ridge lagoon system, and the lagoon system at Wounded Knee.
Pine Ridge is located in southwestern South Dakota and is the second largest reservation in the United States in area; approximately 3400 mi2. The reservation has very little economic development and receives a majority of its income from leasing of agricultural land. Currently, the Oglala Sioux Lakota Housing Authority is seeking federal assistance to renovate the Wounded Knee wastewater system. This system’s stabilization ponds were constructed in the late 1960’s and early ‘70’s. The ponds do not discharge wastewater/effluent. The interior liners of the ponds have been compromised and no longer function. As a result, the ponds hold little or no wastewater and allow most of the wastewater to escape to the local groundwater with little or no treatment. As a result the lagoon system has fallen out of EPA compliance. Pine Ridge has 16 wastewater systems. A study in 2007 showed many of these systems are in need of some level of renovation.
Recently, Reader’s Digest posted an article “10 Jobs Americans Can’t Live Without.” Lo and behold, water/wastewater treatment plant and system operators fell second on the list! As an organization that dedicates itself to the well-being of communities, specifically in the water and wastewater fields, this did not come as a surprise. However, it never fails to surprise me how many people take water and wastewater (your toilet flushes and the waste miraculously disappears) for granted.
I’ve had the privilege to work with some water/wastewater operators and technical assistance providers here at MAP, and every one of them is extremely proud to assist the communities they work in, ultimately supplying that community with safe drinking water. A quick overview of what an operator does can be found here.
If you are interested in a rewarding career that offers job security and personal satisfaction, check out Work for Water and SmallWaterSupply.org! These sites will equip you with the necessary information to begin your career in the water and wastewater fields.
Safe Drinking Water Week proclaimed by Gov. Dayton as health department releases annual report of drinking water in Minnesota
Gov. Mark Dayton declared May 6-12 Safe Drinking Water Week in Minnesota as water professionals and the communities they serve join together to recognize the vital role water plays in people’s daily lives. In his proclamation, the governor said, “Protecting our sources of drinking water from contamination or overuse is the first step in ensuring a safe water supply. Minnesotans depend on an adequate supply of safe drinking water for their health, quality of life, and economic viability.” In conjunction with Safe Drinking Water Week, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) released its annual drinking water report. Results of monitoring by MDH engineers and public health sanitarians indicate that drinking water is generally in good shape in Minnesota’s 961 community water supply systems. Click here to read MDH’s News Release in its entirety.
Craig, Missouri is a rural community of approximately 300 residents located in Holt County and a member of the Northwest Regional Council of Governments. In 2000, Craig began the investigation of a new water treatment plant and began the intensive financial planning in 2007; with the late Mayor Mike Whetsel and Project Manager Terry Eaton putting in long hours, the city was able to secure funding through USDA Rural Development.
Clerk Kary Nowling, Mayor Candy Whetzel (wife to late Mayor Mike Whetsel) and Project Manager Terry Eaton (now with JEO Consulting Group) worked with Midwest Assistance Program throughout the application process to move this project to construction in record speed. Engineering was completed by JEO Consulting Group of Nebraska City, Nebraska and the construction is being completed by IrvinBilt (previously PAR Construction).
Rural Development is providing $951,000 in loan and $496,820 in grant to complete the project to provide safe drinking water that will serve Craig, Big Lake conservation and recreation customers, as well as Holt Public Water Supply District 1. Craig is thankful for the support from Senator Roy Blunt, Senator Claire McCaskill, Congressman Sam Graves, Representative Mike Thomson, and Governor Jay Nixon.
From the RCAP Blog: RCAP Executive Director Robert Stewart testified April 25 before the House Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology, and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee of the Agriculture Committee. The subcommittee hosted the first in a series of hearings on the upcoming Farm Bill reauthorization. There were two panels focusing on the programs in the Rural Development Title. Stewart testified on the second panel, along with other witnesses that work in the rural utility field. The hearing was an opportunity to look at the RD programs authorized by the Farm Bill and see how they can be improved to work more effectively for communities.
Click here to read the press release from the Agriculture committee on the hearing.