Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2016 - 11
FROM THE PRESIDENT
BY CHARLES HILTON,
Sustainability-the seeming byword in our industry now. According to the Cambridge
Dictionaries Online, the definition of sustainable is "able to continue over a period of time." That seems to
be fairly obvious. Then what is the hoopla about if our utilities are sustainable as asked by USDA, EPA and
so many others? We have been here for a hundred years, so surely we will be here a hundred more. You
know-we've always done it that way, so why change now?
But let's take just a moment to think about that. I have looked at early construction costs of pipe in our
system (pipe laid in 1969-1970). Costs were somewhere around $2 per foot. Pipe laid in this system two
years ago averaged $100 per foot. Of course the pipe is larger, the regulations more complex and a myriad
of other things that reflect what we are doing today. I challenge you to look in your current budget; what did
you budget in capital for replacement lines, not their repair and maintenance, but replacement? But, we all
know that pipe will last forever!! We are already replacing pipe that was laid in that 69-70 time period.
Several years ago, I ran an estimated replacement cost of everything in the system and promptly filed it
away because the number was so staggering I didn't know how to deal with it. Fortunately, I came to my
senses and began budgeting some (not 100 percent as I should) capital/depreciation costs. This is what
sustainability is all about-not just meeting the payroll this week, but meeting the payroll 50 years from now.
You must ask yourself the hard question-is my system sustainable under the current budgeting process?
On another note, I was able to attend In-Service Training for all of our State Rural Water Associations'
employees. After meeting and talking with many who were there, it is no wonder why we are known as
the problem solvers for our membership. From our seasoned, veteran executive directors to our newest
employees, the participation and discussions in the various sessions were excellent. What a privilege to be
able to participate with such an august body of people!
On a sad note, we have lost one of our own. On June 18, 2016, Darryl Brown from the great state of
Maine lost a battle with pancreatic cancer. Darryl was president of NRWA in 1992-1994, and was a mentor
to many of us who have served on the Executive Board of NRWA. But more than that, Darryl had become
a personal friend of mine-we had spent many hours over the years on the ski slopes of both his home
state of Maine as well as in Utah. There were four other past presidents of NRWA-Randy Van Dyke (Iowa),
Phil Bastin (lndiana), Bobby Scott (Tennessee) and Doug Anderton (Georgia) as well as myself in attendance
at the services. Our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Penny, as well as his children and grandchildren.
Please keep them in your prayers.
Finally, when you get this, you should have made your plans to be at our annual conference in Orlando.
I hope to see many of you there. At that time, the gavel will pass to the new incoming president of National
Rural Water Association. It is my prayer that you will greet him with the warmth and considerations you
have shown me. I have picked up 150,000 frequent flyer miles since I assumed the role of president and will
probably pick up another 25,000 before Orlando. This industry has given me so many opportunities, and I
hope that perhaps I have given maybe just a small amount back to the people who are truly the backbone of
America. What an honor and privilege to have met and visited with so many of you. You have given me hope
for this great place that we call home.
I wish God's blessing on each of you. ●