25 Years, Thousands of Visits and Quality on Tap
The Wyoming Association of Rural Water Systems has been around for more than 25 years, but 2014 will mark our formal 25th anniversary year as an incorporated trade association. Most people have heard of us by our street name, Wyoming Rural Water. Our membership includes all 99 incorporated communities in Wyoming, 126 special districts, 51 individual members and 83 corporate partners. We are an affiliate of the National Rural Water Association and, collectively in all 50 states, our associations have over 31,000 members.
Primarily, we administer technical assistance programs to help water, wastewater and solid waste entities comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Each year a field staff of seven very experienced water industry professionals make about 2,500 on-site visits to councils, boards or utility staff to give assistance on rate structures and forming new districts, assist in loan or grant applications, assist in governance or financial issues, and train operators in the operation and maintenance of their system. Our staff also assists with developing a system of maintenance, helps to take required tests and teach operators the correct testing or sampling methods, assists with specific maintenance problems or helps with leak and line location, trains on record keeping, and assists or trains on reducing cost of power and water losses. We can help find leaks in sewer systems with sewer smoking services or we can provide line camera services as needed.
And we are always around for “any other assistance necessary to meet the needs of our membership and to ensure the protection of Wyoming’s water – our most precious resource.” Our field staff collectively has over 120 years of experience in utility operations, governmental accounting, finance and public administration.
We also provide advocacy assistance on rules, regulations and legislation at both the federal and state levels. We work actively with every state and federal agency in Wyoming. As we say, we only deal in matters that affect water, and so far, everything affects water.
Members of our staff currently sit on numerous boards, task forces and working groups to keep abreast of and up to date on issues affecting Wyoming. We have members on the Governor’s Non Point Source Task Force, the Governor’s Citizens Advisory Committee on Solid Waste, the Small System Task Force, the Wyoming Water Association and numerous work groups organized within several state and federal agencies.
Our Training and Technical Assistance program provides training sessions to almost all of the state’s more than 1,100 licensed water and wastewater operators on an annual basis at either of our training and industry trade shows or in more than 300 on-site sessions. Over 15,000 man hours of training is provided annually to operations specialists and in excess of 2,500 man hours of training to boards and councils.
Wyoming Rural Water also administers a multi-jurisdictional voluntary program for Source Water Protection Planning. This program assists in creating steering committees within a community and surrounding area comprised of most if not all water users. The group then attempts to define all of the potential contaminant issues or sources that could affect their community drinking water supplies. Understanding where a community’s source water comes from is one of the first tasks and usually the first task that surprises everyone in the room as to “where their water comes from.” Sometimes, the ground water “recharge” zone is many miles from the wellhead. Once identified, the group looks at development issues, industrial issues, discharge areas and all types of use issues that could leach and contaminate the recharge zone.
The source water protection program in Wyoming can take into account every state and federal agency, as well as major companies. It is not uncommon in Wyoming for the steering committee to have members and input from the BLM, Bureau of Reclamation, Game and Fish, Oil and Gas, Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), U.S. Geological Survey, conservation districts, Chambers of Commerce, agricultural users, State Parks, Forest Service, County Commissions, City Council and major employers in the area. Industrial site selection, subdivision development strategies, emergency response plans, emergency mediation and mitigation are common outcomes from Source Water Protection Plans.
We also administer a technical assistance program dealing with for profit or some nonprofit public water systems such as guest ranches, campgrounds, mobile home parks, man camps, churches or other entities that are classified by EPA and DEQ as transient/non-community public water systems. These entities are not required to hire certified or licensed operations specialists but must adhere to the Safe Drinking Water Act. This program makes over 420 on site visits per year and numerous outreach speaking and educational events to help these businesses that are so vital to Wyoming’s tourism industry maintain compliance with applicable drinking water standards.
We administer the Best Tasting Drinking Water in Wyoming contest every year during our Spring Training Conference. The winning system is then hosted at the Great American Taste Test held in February each year in Washington, DC. Wyoming has had one top five finish, coming from Afton in 2005, and no entry has finished outside the top 10 in any year. This year’s entry will be from Ten Sleep, which won the state contest over 27 other entries.
Due to membership fees, industry support and some grants, all of our services are provided to the water industry in Wyoming free of charge.
We can be reached through online at warws.com or by calling our office in Glenrock at 307-436-8636. All of our specialists are available by email or cell and contact info is available on the website.