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Rural Water Association of Utah Conference: All about Relationships

By Michael Grange

In a state where approximately 75 percent of the community water systems serve less than 3,300 people and 50 percent serve less than 500 people, relationships are everything. The annual Rural Water Association of Utah conference provides Division of Drinking Water (DDW) staff with a unique opportunity to build relationships by working one-on-one with small-system operators on compliance requirements, reporting, funding, and plan review, among other issues. Over 1,900 people attended this year’s conference in St. George, Utah, and DDW staff were on hand for the conference to offer training classes and presentations as well as individual consultations.

These drinking water system operators, many of whom work part-time and on a volunteer basis, strive to ensure that the water they deliver meets state and federal requirements for clean drinking water. This responsibility requires training, certification, knowledge of ever-changing drinking-water rules, monitoring, reporting, and planning. It can be a daunting task, and DDW, in partnership with Rural Water Association of Utah (RWAU), is there to provide year-round support to these small-system operators.

DDW offered workshops for conference attendees on a wide variety of topics, including:

  •  DDW and EPA rule changes
  • On-line availability of DDW reports
  • Water use data collection and reporting
  • Engineering plan reviews
  • Energy efficiency
  • Financial assistance for engineering and construction
  • Cross-connections and backflow prevention

DDW staff was available to help operators prepare their annual Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs) which provide consumers with information on the quality of their drinking water. These reports are often distributed in customer’s water bills but can also be made available on-line.

In addition, DDW staff offered consultations on

  • Compliance issues
  • IPS reports/significant deficiencies/Corrective Action Plans
  • Monitoring and Reporting
  • Source protection plans
  • Disinfection by-products rule

All drinking water system operators are required to be certified to ensure the quality, safety, and adequacy of the water provided to the community. Drinking Water System operator training and certification classes and examinations are an important part of the Conference. Training sessions are held Monday through Thursday and the exam is given on Friday.

DDW was very busy during this week-long conference. Here is a small sample of what staff was able to accomplish during the conference:

  • Delivered 22 presentations
  • Conducted operator certification classes
  • Administered 97 drinking water operator certification exams
  • Prepared 135 CCRs and 155 other reports
  • Conducted numerous engineering and compliance consultations
  • Met with water systems to discuss financial assistance options

Most importantly, we met system operators we may not see in-person on a regular basis and talked one-on-one with them. Building and maintaining good working relationships with water system operators is critical to DDW’s programs, and we appreciate the opportunity to provide this personalized assistance again during this year’s conference.

Want to know more about your drinking water? Check out your Consumer Confidence Report for an overview of the water quality from your drinking water system. Discover what steps you need to take if your water service is interrupted during an emergency. Find out the rating DDW gave your water system. For specific questions, feel free to contact our office at (801) 536-4200.

28March2016-Michael-new-logo-150x150I joined DDW in October 2006 and became Section Manager in October 2011. As the Construction Assistance Section Manager, I oversee the financial assistance programs offered by the Division. I earned degrees in Chemical Engineering and Business Administration from the University of Utah. My work experience includes 14 years in the private sector as a laboratory technician, process engineer, and consulting engineer focusing on water and waste water treatment and environmental assessment and remediation.

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