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Rural Grants Available

The Laura Jane Musser Fund wants to encourage collaborative and participatory efforts among citizens in rural communities that will help to strengthen their towns and regions in a number of civic areas including, but not limited to, economic development, business preservation, arts and humanities, public space improvements, and education.  Their Rural Initiative Program has funds available to communities in Colorado, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wyoming.  Deadline to apply is November 7, 2012, and funding decisions will be announced in February, 2013.  To learn more, please visit their website:  http://bit.ly/pviUTm.  

Minnesota’s Infrastructure – in trouble??

An article by Jeremy Dennison recently published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune brings to light the fact that “Most sewer and sanitation systems last between 30 and 50 years.  Many of Minnesota’s are as old or older, and they could fail at any point.”  The work that MAP does in Minnesota communities, as well as our eight other states, deals directly with helping to fix this very issue.  Why wait for these systems to fail?  Let’s act now.  Click here to read the article in its entirety, and if you’re a small community in need of assistance, visit the MAP website to see how we can help.

Math Tools for Small Systems

Mathematical calculations can be one of the most challenging, but also most important, tasks performed by a water or wastewater operator. With Internet-enabled computers available in an increasing number of facilities, operators can lean on calculation tools to double-check their math.  A recent SmallWaterSupply.org blog post features a list of math tools for small systems that was put together by the Missouri Rural Water Association.  In addition to some interactive tools, it also features applications for your Smartphone.  Check it out here!

Energy Use Assessment Tool Available from the US EPA

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.

Using Technology to Deliver Financial Assistance Remotely

With today’s financial constraints, driving to our community projects, some of which can be hundreds of miles away, isn’t always feasible.  So, thanks to ever-evolving technology and a motivated City Clerk, Bonnie Bishop of Randalia, IA, we were able to connect via webinar to review Randalia’s annual financial reports that are due to USDA Rural Development for the city’s existing wastewater loan. I simply uploaded the reports into LiveMeeting, invited Bonnie, and we were able to review the reports as if we were sitting there together.  Thanks to technology we saved time and money, and Randalia is now current on their USDA Rural Development reports.  How are you using technology to benefit your organization?

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