The National Rural Water Association’s 2016 WaterPro Conference in Orlando, Fla. has been rated as one of the association’s most successful conferences.
“I felt like it was the best venue and had the best content for attendees since I have been attending!”
This year’s conference drew over 2,000 water professionals from across the nation, and drew high praise on post conference surveys.
Steve Fletcher of Illinois was elected as the President of the National Rural Water Association during meetings held at the WaterPro Conference in Orlando, Fla. Fletcher was inaugurated during a luncheon on Sept. 14.
Fletcher will lead an executive board that includes Senior Vice President Steve Wear of Arkansas, Vice-President David Baird of Delaware, Secretary Kent Watson of Texas, Treasurer John O’Connell, III of New York, Immediate Past President Charles Hilton of South Carolina, and board members Phillip Combs of Tennessee, Wilmer Melton, III of North Carolina and Glen Womack of Louisiana.
“My original board of directors encouraged me to participate in water organizations to promote our system. I believe that this is the pinnacle of that effort for myself and the Washington County Water Company.”
Fletcher has been the Manager and Operator for the Washington County Water Company since November of 1981. The WCWC is a not for profit rural water system that serves 5,800 customers in seven counties across southern Illinois.
Fletcher has been a member of the Illinois Rural Water Association since 1986 and was elected as the state director to the NRWA board in 1999. He was elected to the NRWA executive board in 2008.
The 2016 conference debuted the new Are You Smarter Than a Circuit Rider? gameshow, where conference attendees partnered with randomly-drawn Rural Water staff to answer questions about drinking water, wastewater, regulations, utility management and the water industry. HD Supply Waterworks sponsored over $14,000 in prizes for the gameshow. The winning Circuit Rider earned $7,000 for their State Association and the winning attendee won a $7,000 credit with HD supply Waterworks for their utility.
The contest drew an energetic crowd that filled the seating area and spilled into standing room around the edges. Are You Smarter Than a Circuit Rider? received a 100% score in WaterPro app, with all respondents indicating that watching the show was time well spent and that they would like to see the event at future conferences.
“It was a great idea!” A viewer responded. “I loved that it was right after lunch, it kept the energy up through the conference.”
Hilton Named NRWA’s Man of the Year
Charles Hilton was named the National Rural Water Association’s Man of the Year during the annual Tribute to Excellence awards ceremony, held on Sept. 13 at the WaterPro Conference in Orlando, Fla.
“The Man of the Year award is presented to an individual or an organization that have gone “above and beyond” the normal scope of activities and support for Rural Water across America based on their loyalty, dedication and outstanding contributions to the Rural Water cause.”
Hilton has served as president of the NRWA board since 2014. He began his career in Rural Water in 1974 and has been the general manager of the Breezy Hill Water & Sewer Co. in South Carolina for 27 years. Hilton has served on the board of the South Carolina Rural Water Association in numerous positions, including as president.
Schwartz Wins Cronquist Lifetime Achievement Award
Dennis Schwartz was awarded the Clark Cronquist Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Tribute to Excellence awards ceremony, held Sept. 13 during the WaterPro Conference in Orlando, Fla.
“There are people in our midst who have worked tirelessly, almost their entire lives, to benefit rural and small systems.We are thankful to each and everyone of you for your work and support of Rural Water.”
Schwartz is retiring from Rural Water after a long and distinguished career.
Schwartz was the General Manager of Shawnee County Rural Water District #8, for 37 years. He served on the Kansas Rural Water Association Board of Directors for 37 years, holding several offices including serving as president several times. Dennis has served on the Board of Directors of NRWA for 39 years, serving as president from 2000-2002. He has served on the Water Industry Coordinating Council, National Drinking Water Advisory Council and the Kansas River Basin Advisory Committee, to name just a few. He is an accomplished photographer and resides in Topeka with his lovely wife, Sharon.
The Clark Cronquist Lifetime Achievement Award was named after one of NRWA’s original board members, who served over 30 years on the NRWA board.
City of Vassar and Centerville City win Environmental, Energy Efficiency Awards
Two cities earned recognition during the annual Tribute to Excellence awards ceremony, held on Sept. 12 during the WaterPro Conference in Orlando, Fla. The City of Vassar, Mich. Won the Environmental Achievement Award and Centerville City, Utah won the Energy Efficiency Award.
“Utilities members have always been the true environmentalists and the 1st line of defense to protect our environment.”
In addition to implementing some unique educational activities, Vassar established a line item in their budget so that they have money each year to use toward environmental protection efforts.
“Vassar established a Wellhead Protection Committee to assist the city with WHPP Information in their Consumer Confidence Report, providing educational giveaways for school children, groundwater models for schools, water and wasterwater plant tours and drinking water placemat design contests.”
The purpose of the Energy Efficiency Award is to recognize a water or wastewater system, on a national level, who has demonstrated exemplary initiatives, projects, or education on the critical role of the utility in Energy Efficiency to the public.
“Centerville City is changing the way things are done! They recognized the potential and need for energy conservation and saving on their system and went to work to make the change necessary. By implementing 15 energy efficiency and water saving strategies, they have realized a savings of over $262,000 per year in energy, water and power costs.”
Both cities are members of their state rural water association.
Texas Wins State Association of the Year at Awards Ceremony
The Texas Rural Water Association received the State Association of the Year award at the annual Tribute to Excellence awards ceremony, held on Sept. 13 at the WaterPro Conference in Orlando, Fla.
“The most prestigious and most honored award is the State Association of the Year. It is presented to the state association that projects a team effort in all areas of professional association operations and membership service. The State Association of the Year has excelled in all categories of the award and this is only accomplished by teamwork, strong leadership and member support.”
Texas Rural Water Association has an active membership of 750 utilities providing water and wastewater to over 2.5 million customers throughout the state.
“Last year, this association trained over 5,100 individuals in all aspects of water and wastewater management through classroom and online courses, regional workshops and conferences.”