Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2018 - 16

federal environmental regulations. EPA's
decision directs the agency to fund
technical assistance through the Grassroots
Rural and Small Community Water Systems
Assistance Act, enacted in December
2015. It marked an important change
in EPA policy, since full-time, on-site
technicians were eliminated in 2012 when
Congress gave EPA discretion over the
operation of the program. EPA's move drew
praise from NRWA.

Consolidation's many forms
Consolidation in the Rural Water
industry can encompass a wide range
of options, from simple to complex.
It can reflect the formation of a new
water association by several neighboring
systems. It can refer to the merger of a
single rural utility with another or even with
a neighboring municipality.
One consolidation scenario could
involve one water system taking over
all responsibility and costs for operating
another water utility. That could include
providing a whole new water source for
customers in a neighboring community
and building a new distribution system to
deliver the water to that area.
Another example might consist of
one water system providing another
with infrastructure renovation, such as
treatment plant backwash improvements,
water tower maintenance and reducing
distribution system water loss.
Consolidation can also mean partnering
with another water system simply to
provide services. For example, a water
system continues to operate and maintain
its distribution system but contracts with
another utility for regulatory compliance,
billing, meter reading or other services.
Likewise, partnering may only involve
assisting with emergency preparedness.
Among Rural Water systems that have
grown through consolidation is Arkansasbased Conway County Regional Water
Distribution District (CCRWDD). Formed
in 1977, the nonprofit later purchased a
neighboring water system. It also built
out the water infrastructure for the city
of Conway. In 1986, when three nearby
county water systems asked CCRWDD to
supply them with water and services, it did.
"That consolidation of services not
only eased their burden of regulatory
compliance," says CCRWDD operations

16

FIRST QUARTER 2018

manager Steve Wear. "It also was more
cost-effective for them to purchase
water from us than build their own water
treatment facility."
Those consolidation moves increased
CCRWDD's base from 1,100 to 25,000
customers, raising the company's
revenues. "Because we added so many
customers, we haven't had a residential
rate increase since 1986," he says.
Wear believes a Rural Water system
may be ready to consider partnering or
consolidating with another system if it's
having repeated issues with its board of
directors, facilities, water quality or supply.
Such issues can go on for years because
government agencies often "throw money
at the problems of a water system," he
says. "Five years later, the water system
is back asking for more money because
the facility or equipment hasn't been
maintained."

Kentucky's
consolidation lessons
If any state knows about regionalization
in the water industry, it's Kentucky.
"Kentucky has a number of regionalization
efforts that have been successful," says
Gary Larimore, executive director of the
Kentucky Rural Water Association.
Several systems there are
interconnected to purchase wholesale

water as well as for emergencies.
Other systems share common offices,
management and operational personnel
but have separate boards. The state has
six regional water commissions formed to
provide wholesale water to utilities.
"The Logan-Todd County Regional
Water Commission is an excellent
example of strong leadership, public
involvement, good communication
and patience," Larimore says. "This
successful effort took over 10 years from
start to finish."
Kentucky's few forced regionalization
efforts continue to struggle with board,
management and operational issues.
"These were all the issues that the
consolidations and mergers were
supposed to resolve," notes Larimore.
"There continues to be mistrust among
the local elected officials, water system
board members and staff. The system
continues to struggle with regulatory
compliance. The customers of the
systems have lost all confidence in the
abilities of the local water system leaders
to provide them with safe drinking water."
The forced mergers were an attempt
by regulatory agencies and local county
officials to achieve better efficiency
and regulatory compliance, he says.
Unfortunately, the local leaders never
communicated with or convinced the
public that the merger would resolve the
problems. "Public buy-in is essential to
the success of any regionalization effort,"
Larimore says. "In reality, the problems
remained the same. Merging the systems
only merged the problems."
Ultimately, Kentucky has learned that
Rural Water systems need a very good
reason to regionalize. Will the community
or public be better served by the new
system? What are the added benefits
a community will receive from this
new entity?
"We should not be regionalizing simply
because we think it is a good idea," notes
Larimore. "There must be an obvious and
overriding reason or need to consolidate.
Every situation should be viewed
independently, and decisions should be
based on what is best for the customers.
Simply merging or consolidating systems
will not necessarily give you a better
system. It may only give you one large,
bad system." ●



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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