When USDA Rural Development funds a water system (as it did 800 times last year across the Nation), work doesn’t stop when the system is activated. It has to be maintained. The South Dakota Association of Rural Water Systems annually holds a training event where operators, managers, and board members can gain tangible knowledge ranging from energy audits to infrastructure rehabilitation. Staff from South Dakota USDA Rural Development (RD) contributes to the training to make it an annual success.
Recently, Community Program Director Doug Roehl was a speaker at the training covering the opportunities for funding. Area Directors from across the State networked with the water districts in their area; learning about future needs in infrastructure and the changing needs of water users. On the final day of the event, an awards event was held where USDA RD Community Program Specialist, Pat Hemen, received the “Friend of Rural Water” award. The distinguished Friend of Rural Water title is awarded to agencies, organizations, or individuals who have supported rural water improvements. Hemen was acknowledged for his guidance and technical assistance before and after the funding process. Hemen as well as other staff acted as judges for the annual SD Water Taste Test Award as well.
“Throughout my government career, I have truly enjoyed seeing the life altering, positive impact our programs have made in people’s lives; providing safe and sanitary water,” said Hemen. Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks congratulated Hemen on his award stating, “No one better exemplifies the truly dedicated staff at USDA than Pat. He is not only knowledgeable- he is a pleasure to work with and he loves making a difference and working for our rural communities.”
To find out how your community can benefit Rural Development water and environmental program support, click here.