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Rural Water launches professional recognition initiative - August 1, 2012

(NEWTON, Iowa) – The Iowa Rural Water Association, in cooperation with the National Rural Water Association, launched a nation-wide professional recognition initiative on August 1, 2012. The initiative will advocate the value of professional careers in the water and wastewater industry, and advanced the quality of those careers.

“The quality of the American water industry has advanced so far that it is often taken for granted,” said Gregory Huff, CEO. “Too often the efforts of those that ensure quality water at the tap go unnoticed.”

According to Readers Digest Magazine, there are approximately 108,330 system personnel who operate water and wastewater systems.  In the article, these positions are listed as number two in the “Top 10 Jobs Americans Cannot Live Without.” Individuals in these positions have tremendous responsibilities, including water quality testing, regulatory compliance and handling of dangerous chemicals. Despite these heavy responsibilities and liabilities, the professionals in these positions often go unrecognized.

“This initiative was created to improve the recognition of these critical water-related jobs, and position the water industry to cope with the impending workforce shortage expected from increasing number of retirements,” Huff said.

The first step of the initiative is a terminology change, referring to water and wastewater positions as “System Operations Specialists.” The National Rural Water Association and its state rural water affiliations, together representing over 28,000 rural and small communities, will begin using the new terminology verbally and in all printed material after August 1.

“Titles project the skills, knowledge and expertise embedded in the industry and these System Operations Specialists should be recognized for the critical positions they hold in our communities,” Huff said.

The launch of the initiative includes a proclamation to recognize the value of water and wastewater professionals and indicate the new terminology.

“This initiative is just a small step to gain deserved recognition for system operational personnel, who impact our daily lives in what they do,” Huff said. “The (attached) proclamation is the vehicle that will launch this effort.  Its success will be measured by system personnel, associations, and agencies ingraining it into their vocabulary.”


IRWA enjoys highlighting current industry leaders who work hard for Iowa communities to provide clean and safe drinking water.  The men and women in this field are true “hometown heroes”.  Submit your “Hometown Heroes” photos to [email protected].