Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 14

Consolidation caution
Consolidation, however, has its
downside and brings other concerns.
Some industry leaders have been calling
for caution when it's touted as the
answer to the Rural Water industry's
challenges. Among them is Matt Holmes,
deputy CEO of the National Rural Water
Association (NRWA), the nation's largest
community-based drinking water utility
organization. NRWA's 49 affiliated State
Rural Water Associations represent over
31,000 utility-system members across
the country.

"We understand there will be
consolidation in the Rural Water industry,"
Holmes acknowledges. "It can make
sense to partner with a neighboring
system. But it's essential that communities
agree that it's for the good of the
residents, that's it's not a top-down push.
It should be a local decision.
"Water is about control," he adds. "It's
about the economic vitality of a community
and the public health of its citizens. It's
important for people to have a say in how
it's handled. They have to understand that
checks and balances must be put into

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14

FIRST QUARTER 2018

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03/04/17 7:03 PM

place so that their water resource continues
to be managed in the best interests of
the community."
Holmes is also concerned about
repeated assertions that smaller water
systems need to consolidate because
they can't meet regulatory requirements.
"There's no compelling data that smaller
systems have a larger number of violations,"
he says. "People say smaller systems
represent the majority of violations, but
that's because they represent some 90
percent of the nation's water systems. They
are the majority of systems."
Steve Fletcher, manager of Illinoisbased Washington County Water Company,
also contradicts claims that smaller water
companies can't continue to operate
themselves today and so must depend on
a union with another system. Washington
County Water serves 5,600 customers and
three towns.
"Just because a system is small doesn't
mean it can't take care of its own business,"
says Fletcher, who is also president of
NRWA. "There are avenues for small towns
to get help."
NRWA, he notes, has proposed a
provision for the 2018 Farm Bill that
provides financial incentives to communities
that lack the capacity to provide services
to their immediate residents. "This would
allow contiguous neighbors and utilities
outside the underserved area to receive a
direct subsidized loan to provide service to
that community," Fletcher says.
He further believes small towns derive
their identity in part from local businesses.
For many communities, the local water
utility belongs to the constellation of
businesses that help form a town's
character. Its role is all the more valued
because it provides one of life's most
essential resources. When a consolidation
swallows up a local business pillar, it robs a
community of some of its individuality.
"Many towns don't want to lose their
identity," Fletcher says. "Many have already
lost their local school and other businesses.
They don't want to lose anything else."
NRWA's Holmes also emphasizes that
Rural Water systems often underestimate
consolidation's cost and complexity. For
example, water utilities must be aware of
the hurdles of moving water over broader
areas. "Water is extremely heavy and costly
to move," Holmes says. That intensifies the


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018

From the President
When Rural Water Systems Combine
Peer-to-Peer Networking
Cheboygan, Michigan Adopts Level Service Goals for Water Department
NRWA President Steve Fletcher: Rural Water’s “Man for All Seasons”
Rural Water Rally 2018
State Rural Water Association Profile
A Day in the Life of a Circuit Rider
Regulatory Update
Up the Creek: The Ongoing Story of Our Life
Index to Advertisers/ Advertisers.com
From the CEO
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - Intro
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - bellyband1
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - bellyband2
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - cover1
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - cover2
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 3
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 4
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 5
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 6
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 7
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 8
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 9
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 10
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - From the President
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - When Rural Water Systems Combine
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 13
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 14
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 15
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 16
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 17
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - Peer-to-Peer Networking
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 19
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 20
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 21
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 22
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 23
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 24
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 25
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - Cheboygan, Michigan Adopts Level Service Goals for Water Department
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 27
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - NRWA President Steve Fletcher: Rural Water’s “Man for All Seasons”
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 29
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 30
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 31
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - Rural Water Rally 2018
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 33
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 34
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 35
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - State Rural Water Association Profile
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 37
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - A Day in the Life of a Circuit Rider
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 39
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 40
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - Regulatory Update
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 42
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - Up the Creek: The Ongoing Story of Our Life
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - Index to Advertisers/ Advertisers.com
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 45
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - From the CEO
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - cover3
Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - cover4
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