2017 Water News

  • Rodney Allen Retires

    By Wayne Graham, VRWA

    Long time Enosburg Falls Chief Operator Rodney Allen has finally decided to give up his pager and concentrate on the upcoming deer seasons. Rodney spent 38 years making the Enosburg Falls Wastewater Facility one of the best operated and managed plants that I've seen. When I started with Vermont Rural Water Association eleven years ago, his facility was one of the first that I visited and the first that I wrote an article about in Newsleaks. The article detailed a fuel oil spill that entered the Enosburg wastewater plant and was quickly captured by the always prepared Rodney with oil adsorbing booms that he had on hand for such an event. 

    Many years ago Rodney realized the effect that high strength wastes were having on the operation of the facility, working with Paul Olander and Gary Champy, set up an incredible rate and surcharge system that ensures compliance not to mention long term financial sustainability. This model has been used by many communities dealing with high strength wastes. 

    During his career Rodney displayed his willingness to assist other facilities. Area plants were fortunate to be able to borrow a chemical feed pump or receive process control advice from him. If I could not make it quickly to a plant having issues in his area, I could count on Rodney lending a hand. 

    We are running out of 1st generation wastewater operators like Rodney Allen, but luckily he leaves a lot for us to benefit from!

    Enjoy your retirement Rodney and thank you! 

  • NRWA Announces Partnership with DOL on Apprenticeship Program

    [Please note: VRWA collaborating with VT Department of Labor at this time to launch the program here in Vermont in early 2018]

    The National Rural Water Association, the nation’s largest water utility association with more than 31,000 members, today formerly announced a partnership with the United States Department of Labor to launch a nation-wide apprenticeship program.

    The WaterPro Apprenticeship Program, tailored to water and wastewater system operations specialists, is now a nationally-recognized standard with the DOL.

    Twelve NRWA state affiliates jointly made the announcement at training events for water and wastewater operations specialists as they look to register their own programs with NRWA’s national guideline standard. The announcements and events commemorate National Apprenticeship Week 2017, which is recognized November 13-19, and highlight the need for a national water sector apprenticeship initiative.

    “The WaterPro Apprenticeship Program will ensure a well-trained and capable water sector workforce to meet the increasing demands of the water industry,” said NRWA CEO Sam Wade. “Advancements in water treatment and supply technology have increased the skills and training needed to protect public health and the environment. The apprenticeship program will ensure we have the skilled and educated workforce we need well into the future.”

    CoBank, a cooperative bank serving agribusinesses, rural infrastructure providers and Farm Credit associations throughout the United States, will underwrite $250,000 to help establish the program.

    “We are extremely excited for the NRWA and their new WaterPro Apprenticeship Program,” said Chris Shaffner, CoBank’s sector vice president for water and community facilities banking. “Recruiting and retaining highly talented individuals for the future workforce of America’s rural water systems is vital as the industry underpins the agricultural economy and the lives of those living in rural America.”

    It takes more than 380,000 highly skilled water and wastewater personnel to ensure the public supply of safe drinking water and to protect our lakes, streams and groundwater. Advancements in water treatment and supply technology have increased the skills and training required of this workforce. Water professionals are responsible for meeting stringent regulatory standards, replacing aging infrastructure, recruiting and training new operations specialists, and responding to and recovering from disasters.

    In addition to increasing professional demands, utilities will soon be forced to replace many of their most experienced employees. Over the next decade, the water sector is expected to lose between 30 and 50 percent of the workforce to retirement. Many of these employees have worked at the same utility for the majority of their careers, and they will depart with decades of valuable institutional knowledge.

    About NRWA

    The National Rural Water Association is the largest public drinking water and sanitation utility organization representing the interests of more than 31,000 water and wastewater utilities nationwide. NRWA provides training and technical assistance through 49 affiliated State Rural Water Associations dedicated to supporting and promoting the water and wastewater professionals that serve small communities across the United States. NRWA and the State Affiliates provide training on operator certification, financial sustainability, environmental compliance, utility management and governance to over 80,000 water professionals annually in all 50 states. Last year, over 55,000 on-site consultations were delivered by NRWA’s technical experts for water quality, energy efficiency, source water protection, technical assistance and emergency response.

    About CoBank

    CoBank is a $124 billion cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. The bank provides loans, leases, export financing and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water and communications providers in all 50 states. The bank also provides wholesale loans and other financial services to affiliated Farm Credit associations serving more than 70,000 farmers, ranchers and other rural borrowers in 23 states around the country. CoBank is a member of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of banks and retail lending associations chartered to support the borrowing needs of U.S. agriculture, rural infrastructure and rural communities. Headquartered outside Denver, Colorado, CoBank serves customers from regional banking centers across the U.S. and also maintains an international representative office in Singapore. For more information about CoBank, visit the bank's web site at www.cobank.com.

  • VRWA Welcomes New Team Member

    We are pleased to announce Diana Butler has joined VRWA on November 7 as a Water System Specialist. Diana will be managing our EPA water program and responsible to assist with ongoing continuing education training VRWA is conducting. In addition she will offer onsite assistance to supplement the services offered by our team members at this time. Her focus will be with the public water systems not in the category of fire district, town, municipal and as an example would include schools, mobile home parks, and condo associations to include many non-transient non-community systems. Diana has a background in surface drinking water operations as well has served in inspection and support role in another state for work tied to public water, wastewater, and stormwater assistance. In addition she is a laboratory operations expert. Diana is excited to join VRWA and looks forward to working with systems moving forward.

  • Funding Opportunity Announcement for Those VT Public Water Systems That Fluoridate

    Linda Greaves at Vermont Department of Health shared this information with VRWA recently and we are posting so you know of this opportunity, including up coming conference call and deadline for RPF submission. See details below. Any questions can be addressed to Linda Greaves at VDH Office of Oral Health at 802-651-1635 email Linda.Greaves@vermont.gov.

    The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), in collaboration with the CDC, is pleased to offer a funding opportunity for community water systems to replace aging water fluoridation equipment or install new equipment for the fluoridation of community water.

    An informational conference call will be held October 24, 2017 at 1:00pm (ET) to learn more about the Request for Proposals (RFP) and to have a chance to ask NACCHO and CDC questions regarding the application and funding opportunity. Please visit the RFP website for call-in information.

    Applications are due by November 30, 2017 by 11:59pm ET. To apply, go to http://bit.ly/2yclv7q.

    Applicants are required to create a MY NACCHO account to access and submit an application. Please review the standard contract language in the Expectations section to find out if this opportunity is a match for your agency/organization.

  • Governor Scott is proclaiming August 20 to 26, 2017 as Vermont Clean Water Week, please get involved!

    VRWA is pleased to announce we have signed on as a sponsoring organization for Vermont Clean Water Week. See this link for details and ongoing updates http://dec.vermont.gov/watershed/cwi/clean-water-week

    To all of VRWA's contacts and particularly systems, please consider involvement to showcase your good work and how important it is for environmental and public health protection. Several examples of how you can get involved are listed here:

    Become a Clean Water Week Sponsor (it's free!)

    Host a local Clean Water Week Event – consider offering a tour of your facility and invite your elected officials (local, state, and federal) to attend

    Prepare a news release showcasing professional advancement, infrastructure improvements, or ongoing activities at your system that benefit the environment, public health protection, or economic basis in your community

    Consider sharing your clean water project or story through traditional or social media using #cleanwaterweekvt during August 20th - 26th

    You can register your event at the following link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/clean-water-week

    VRWA looks forward to all activities associated with Vermont Clean Water Week and appreciates the ongoing good work of all of you in the Vermont water sector.

  • Vermont Clean Water Fund Board seeks your input – due by August 2

    Please take the time to complete the Vermont Clean Water Fund Priorities and Allocations online survey due by August 2 at this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FY19CWF

    The Board will meet in September 2017 and will use the information from this questionnaire to draft its recommendations for the Clean Water Fund for the next state fiscal year - July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 (FY2019). The draft proposed for FY2019 and fact sheet links are shown on the survey information page at the link noted above.

  • VRWA is Pleased to Announce Elizabeth Walker is Coming Back to the Team!

    We are pleased to announce former employee Elizabeth Walker is coming back to our team on May 1. She will be conducting wastewater focused technical assistance and training to complement the existing services conducted by Wayne Graham. Elizabeth was previously with us for just under ten years up until 2007. Most recently Elizabeth served as water / wastewater superintendent for the Town of Randolph where she oversaw a multi-million dollar upgrade to the town's wastewater facility. Elizabeth has an extremely well rounded knowledge base in various wastewater and water subject matter and is an excellent addition to VRWA. We look forward to having her back on board soon and stay tuned for more details in regards to the program she will be overseeing.

  • 2017 Drinking Water Tasting Contest

    Do you have the best tasting drinking water in Vermont? Well, here’s your opportunity to prove it.

    Vermont’s Drinking Water Week Committee welcomes most public water systems to enter the 2017 Water Tasting Contest. The Water Tasting Contest will be held at the Vermont Rural Water Association’s Annual Conference at the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee on May 4, 2017. Your water will be tasted and judged by a panel of your peers. Water systems will remain anonymous to the judges and all conference attendees with the exception of the tasting coordinator. Winners will be announced during conference festivities.

    Applications should be submitted on or before Friday April 28th to allow time for processing; you will receive acknowledgment of receipt of your application. If you do not receive acknowledgement from the Coordinator, you may not participate. Any participating system must have a valid Permit to Operate with no state or federal drinking water violations during the previous calendar year. There are four categories for this contest- Public Community surface water, Public Community groundwater, Non-transient Non-Community and Transient, Non-Community. An overall winner will be chosen from the top finishers. Only one (1) gallon of your water is required, clearly marked with water system name, WSID, type of system (groundwater, surface water, NTNC or TNC), and contact person on each container—failure to provide the required amount of water will result in disqualification. The water system may use a container of their choosing, but glass is strongly recommended. Containers will be returned, however, it will be the owner’s responsibility to collect them. Samples should be drawn no earlier than the day before the contest and will be served at room temperature in plastic cups.

    Winners will be transported and entered into the Great American Water Taste Content, sponsored by National Rural Water Association, locally by Vermont Rural Water Association.

    We will have a designated tasting area where samples can be delivered at the Conference. All samples must be in no later than 9AM on May 4th (the day of the Conference); judging will begin at 9:30AM. Please contact me by email vermontdrinkingwaterweek@gmail.com or phone 802 585 4904 with any questions or if you need additional information.

    Don’t want to contribute but would like to be a taster? Just let me know.

    Sincerely,
    Ashley Lucht, Chair
    Vermont Drinking Water Week Water Tasting Coordinator

    Click here for the contest information and application.

  • Licensing Exam Information

    April 11, 2017

    To:   Currently Licensed Pollution Abatement Facility Operators: We are writing with updated information regarding exam services. As you know, the Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) assumed responsibility for your license as of January 1, 2017. As part of continuing to practice in your profession, you have now completed the application paperwork to transfer your license from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), to OPR.

    By authorities established in Sec.13, 26 V.S.A., Chapter 99, the OPR Director is responsible to administer or approve exams in these following areas:

    Vermont Wastewater Domestic Grade 1Vermont Industrial Metals Grade 1
    Vermont Wastewater Domestic Grade 2Vermont Industrial Metals Grade 2
    Vermont Wastewater Domestic Grade 3Vermont Industrial Metals Grade 4
    Vermont Wastewater Domestic Grade 4Vermont Industrial Paper Grade 1
    Vermont Industrial Dairy Grade 1Vermont Industrial Paper Grade 2
    Vermont Industrial Dairy Grade 2Vermont Industrial Paper Grade 4
    Vermont Industrial Dairy Grade 4Vermont Wastewater Domestic Grade 5

    OPR is in the final stages of making these exams available to you, working to have them open by June, 2017. As indicated in the FAQ information shared by DEC last fall, there will be a fee for these exams. To cover the costs of providing each exam, we currently estimate a charge of $98 to be paid by the individual licensee taking an exam, as determined by testing services standard charges. Both DEC and OPR are also contributing funds to support availability of exam services.

    We expect other aspects of the exam to remain largely the same as in the past, but with improvements to exam frequency/availability and obtaining your results. Final details will be sent out as soon as these contracted services are finalized. Details and updates will also be available on our website.

    If you have questions about your application in general, or exam services specifically, please contact Kara Shangraw at kara.shangraw@sec.state.vt.us or (802) 828-5434. Thank you.

  • VRWA REQUESTS YOUR LETTER OF SUPPORT AT THIS TIME – FY2018 Rural Water Appropriations Targeted

    On March 16 President Trump released his proposed budget for FY2018, aka skinny budget. The White House budget proposal would eliminate the USDA water and wastewater loan and grant program. This alone would take a loan and grant option off the table for public water and wastewater systems. Of as much importance for VRWA, as with all other affiliates, the USDA loan and grant program is the source of funding for our water and wastewater circuit rider programs and farm service agency grassroots source protection program. Make no mistake about it these are instrumental programs run by VRWA team members and as you know helping you and your system on operations and regulatory issues frequently. A loss of these programs would have a direct and immediate negative impact for all of us.

    We have time to speak up on this issue given Congress is now taking steps to determine final appropriations levels. What is proposed from the White House is just that, a proposal. Your voice needs to be heard now so Congress has the information from the grassroots level that the USDA loan and grant appropriations must be maintained, not zeroed out as outlined by the White House.

    HERE IS WHAT WE ARE ASKING OF YOU AT THIS TIME -

    Forward a letter of support, in whatever form is easiest for you, to Shaun Fielder (Executive Director). We recommend listing in the subject line or introduction, Congress please maintain rural water appropriation funding for FY2018. In the body of your support item, be sure to share some details as to why you feel VRWA services and support, as funded from given appropriations, are so important and valuable for you and your system. A great way to illustrate this is to offer a sentence or two on how VRWA and our team members saved the day and or are regularly out there to help you keep up with the demands of operating a public water or wastewater treatment system. Specifics in regards to how this allows you to keep up with the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act are always useful. If you have any details or estimates on cost savings from the support received that is also useful data. If nothing else make the key point Congress please maintain rural water appropriation funding for FY2018.

    Any support items you are willing to provide can be emailed to vrwa@vtruralwater.org and or mailed to VRWA, attn: Shaun Fielder – Executive Director, 20 Susie Wilson Road, Suite b, Essex Junction, VT 05452. Please don't delay in getting VRWA a support item, this is critical information we need to share with our Congressional delegation. Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders, and Congressman Welch need this information so they can continue advocacy efforts for these program appropriations. Thanks for your consideration and we appreciate the ongoing opportunity to represent your interests on this issue. Any questions can be directed to Shaun Fielder.

    For those interested here is the link to the White House budget proposal @ https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/budget/fy2018/2018_blueprint.pdf

    In addition here is the NRWA statement on USDA proposed cuts @ http://nrwa.org/2017/03/nrwa-statement-on-the-presidents-elimination-of-usda-drinking-water-and-wastewater-infrastructure-funding

  • CWSRF FFY 2017 Draft Intended Use Plan and SFY 2018 Draft Pollution Control Priority List

    Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) staff is distributing for public review and comment the FFY 2017 Draft Intended Use Plan (IUP), which includes the SFY 2018 Water Pollution Control Priority List.  The IUP details the manner in which the program intends to utilize the SRF fund and the Priority List contains a list of municipalities that have submitted applications for potential funding in the upcoming year.  

    There will be an opportunity for a public hearing on April 6, 2017 at the ANR Annex Building, 190 Junction Rd., Berlin, 10 a.m. until noon. Public comments, including additional priority list applications, on this document will be allowed until April 21, 2017. The final IUP and PPL will be released May 5, 2017. 

    Please direct any comments or questions to Tom Brown at (802) 622-4205 or Thomas.brown@vermont.gov.  We look forward to assisting you with your infrastructure improvement needs.

  • VRWA Program Update

    Please be advised that Brent Desranleau (Circuit Rider #1) finished work with VRWA on January 31. Brent wrapped up his assignment on good terms and by his choice and we appreciate his many years of service of course. For those systems who Brent has worked with over the years please note Paul Sestito (VRWA) will be taking over the northern circuit rider role and he will be there to assist you moving forward. With Paul's shift to the circuit rider program in the near future, VRWA will be advertising for a position to assist public water systems such as schools, condo associations and related types of systems as well conducting classroom training in cooperation with our training team. Please keep an eye out for more information on the VRWA position opportunity coming out soon. Any questions can be directed to Shaun Fielder (Executive Director).

  • VRWA Reminder - Protection of Computer Network Systems is an Ongoing Security Measure (January 3, 2017)

    By this time you likely have heard the state and national news reports referencing a malware incident tied to Burlington Electric Department (BED) that occurred late last week. Following an alert provided by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to various sectors, BED took steps to scan all their computers to determine if a malware signature was present. During the scan process BED did discover malware on one laptop and acted quickly to isolate the computer. In addition they provided a statement on their company website with related details and in particular noted grid operations were not impacted at any time. Investigations indicate the malware is tied to recent Russian hacking campaign known as Grizzly Steppe.

    This incident as well as the quick and responsive actions of the Burlington Electric Department are a reminder for all sectors that protection of computer network systems is an ongoing security measure. To learn more about cybersecurity and steps to better secure your networks, visit the Department of Homeland Security, United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team website at this link https://www.us-cert.gov/home-and-business


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