On this episode of The Maguire Iron Podcast, we discuss the mission, history, and rural water in Kansas with Elmer Ronnebaum, the General Manager of the Kansas Rural Water Association.
The mission of the Kansas Rural Water Association is:
Provide education and leadership necessary to enhance the effectiveness of Kansas’ water and wastewater utilities.
The Kansas Rural Water Association was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1966.
Cities, Rural Water Systems, Others + KRWA = Results that make the difference!
Water is the essential ingredient for every Kansan’s life. And for 54 years, the Kansas Rural Water Association has been dedicated to helping public water systems provide the quality and quantity of water needed by their customers and their communities. Since 1993, KRWA has also been providing technical assistance to wastewater utilities.
Kansas Rural Water Association offers cities, rural water districts, and investor-owned utilities these benefits:
Helping cities and rural water districts
The Kansas Rural Water Association provides the assistance that systems need. When someone calls KRWA, someone answers! Help is on the way ASAP with leak detection, smoking of a sanitary sewer, water or sewer rate studies, or policy questions on regulations. In 1998, the Association began providing services to water utilities on source water and wellhead protection. In 1999, KRWA contracted with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to provide assistance to systems using surface water treatment and to systems with compliance problems. In 2001, KRWA began an initiative to help utilities implement GPS mapping.
In 2001, KRWA began providing assistance to KAN STEP projects. Funded through the Kansas Dept. of Commerce & Housing, KAN STEP projects involved local volunteers to construct the project. KAN STEP provided funding for design/engineering, machine rental, and purchase of materials. KRWA provided assistance with the inspection services and construction. Until the program was terminated by the Kansas Department of Commerce in 2019, local communities constructed 87 water systems, fire stations, community buildings, etc.
Results through training
Busy people need practical, hands-on instruction that solves problems. From 1976 to December 31, 2019, KRWA sponsored or conducted 2,866 training sessions attended by 184,470 operators, managers, board members, and agency representatives. KRWA’s annual conference is one of the largest water and wastewater conferences in mid-America.
Results through technical assistance
When a water or wastewater system has a problem or a question, they need solutions. KRWA’s staffers put on their boots and get in the trenches. KRWA helps with all aspects of water and wastewater utility operation and management, such as:
You name it and KRWA can either do it or refer you to someone who can. The bottom line is to make sure systems understand their options for getting the best possible project at the most reasonable price.
Results through technology
Today’s small systems must work smarter. KRWA brings the latest technology to cities and rural water districts through:
Results through information
Kansas Rural Water Association’s nationally recognized publications provide the news and advice systems need and can use. The Kansas Lifeline, KRWA’s news magazine, and other technical resource bulletins provide timely information for the water and wastewater industry. Other publications (available through the General Store) include:
Results through partnerships
The Kansas Rural Water Association is honored to work with water-related state agencies, notably the Public Water Supply Outreach program sponsored by and partly funded through the Kansas Water Plan. This program emphasizes water loss detection and correction, energy reduction, improved electrical maintenance, and assistance with water quality issues.
In 1996, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, KRWA, and the Kansas Rural Water Finance Authority worked in partnership to ensure that the new Public Water Supply Loan Program would be accessible to small systems. The Rural Water Finance Authority was under contract to provide financial analysis to all SRF applicants and to monitor financial statements of non-rated borrowers and cities in need of reporting assistance from 1997 to July 2017 when KDHE decided to have agency staff provide these services.
Results through legislative action
When KRWA has called for member participation, Kansas’ RWDs and cities have responded. Letters, calls, and faxes to Topeka and Washington have made KRWA a major participant in crucial legislative activities. An affiliate of the National Rural Water Association, KRWA has been heavily involved in issues such as:
Results through insurance and financing
KRWA endorses a Group Safety Plan through EMC Insurance Companies for property and casualty insurance; directors’ and officers’ insurance is also available. Dividends of more than $6,000,000 have been returned to systems from 1994 to 2019. Dividends are paid based on premiums, losses and expenses averaged for a three-year period.
KRWA also endorses the Kansas Rural Water Finance Authority (KRWFA). The Authority, a non-profit corporation created in 1988, has provided more than $100 million in financing to rural water districts and small cities in Kansas. KRWFA also provides assistance to the Kansas Public Water Supply Loan Fund that is administered by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
How KRWA has helped water and wastewater systems: