The Missouri Rural Water Association (MRWA) was named the 2012 Association of the Year Monday, September 24, 2012, before hundreds of water industry specialists from across the nation assembled in Nashville, Tennessee.
The reasons for the selection from its parent organization, the National Rural Water Association, were many. In a field that represents affiliates in every state, the MRWA has proved itself a real leader among its fellow associations.
Identified as significant accomplishments were the following: The MRWA was the first association to conduct an annual conference dedicated to office professionals; it was the first association to publish and distribute an email newsletter to its constituents; it was the first to develop and distribute cellular telephone technology in the form of its “text-caster;” and it was the first association to develop and distribute smart phone technology in the form of apps.
MRWA Executive Director John Hoagland explained how the Association managed to lead the industry so effectively. “We have a very innovative staff who constantly comes up with new ideas in regard to our services and how we offer them to the membership. This coupled with a board who is not afraid to take risks and realizes all ideas just do not work but are easily outweighed by those that do.”
As a member-based, non-profit organization, the MRWA provides technical assistance and training to water and wastewater specialists in Missouri. By adding the Office Professionals’ Seminar in recent years, it has extended its services to those performing administrative and clerical work.
The MRWA has continually improved upon its electronic technology, as well. While it has maintained a constant presence online, it has recently updated the look and ease of use of its website and electronic newsletter blog.
The extended service to Office Professionals and the adaptability of its online information for user ease fits the mission of the Association. Hoagland summed up the most important part of that mission: “Never forgetting who we work for … our membership.”
The text-caster is the Association’s way of communicating quick and timely information to its participating members, which triggers regional alerts to those affected. It conveys warnings about impending weather that could lead to disastrous consequences if ignored; provides brief checklists to ensure adequate preparation for such events; and lists upcoming training offered by the Association.
“An aging workforce …” Hoagland identifies as one of the problems facing the industry today. Add to the mix other complicating factors, such as “… increasing regulations, and decreasing financial resources in the way of grants and low interest loans.”
These issues drive the MRWA toward innovative ways of serving utilities. The smart phone apps harness the latest technology to offer field support to utility workers by providing valuable calculations for dosing chemicals, disinfecting tanks and pipes, determining water volumes in leaks, and numerous other functions.
Of course, the MRWA offers support in ways that aren’t exclusively in-the-field, user-friendly technologies. Hoagland adds that the Association represents “… our membership legislatively and with regulators and provides training and technical assistance to enable our members to do their jobs better.”
Additionally, the MRWA provides a wealth of resources, recruits participation in drug take-back events to protect drinking water sources, sponsors an annual school video contest to encourage the next generation to learn about water-related issues, and fosters healthy rivalry and deserving pride with its annual water taste test.
The 2012 Association of the Year award recognition took place as part of the National Rural Water Association’s Water Pro Conference. The event brings industry experts together for education about infrastructure financing, regulatory updates, technological advances, and treatment applications.