As an attorney for rural water and sewer companies in Texas, I have experienced first hand the increased regulatory and legal challenges faced by Texas rural water companies and their lawyers. While there is no substitute for having a knowledgeable attorney, there are several nonlegal resources available that are invaluable to Texas rural water companies.
The first of these resources is the Texas Rural Water Association. According to the TRWA website, its mission is:
“To help water and wastewater systems supply Texans with safe and affordable water and wastewater services by providing:
* technical assistance,
* educational and informational programs,
* member support services, and * representation of our members in legislative and regulatory processes.”
In my experience, the technical and legal assistance that TRWA provides to its members is first rate. Some of its technical staff have operated small water companies, and some have spent time working for the government agencies that regulate water companies. They are available by phone and via email, and often are available to come out and meet with a water company’s staff or operator. The legal staff is well-versed in the legal issues facing rural water and sewer companies, and are available by phone or email. I urge all my rural water and sewer company clients to join the TRWA.
The TRWA publishes a number of written resources that provide excellent guidance to rural water company directors, staff and operators. These publications are available on their website under the “Store” tab, and are available to both members as well as to nonmembers (for a somewhat higher price for nonmembers). The TRWA publications include the Water Board Director’s Manual, the TRWA Legal Handbook, the Water Board Guide, and the Operator’s Handbook. TRWA also conducts and publishes annual salary surveys for operators, managers and office staff.
Finally, the TRWA maintains a list on their website (under the “H2O Products” tab) of contract operators, insurance companies, equipment and chemical suppliers, attorneys and other providers of goods and services of particular interest to water companies.
Membership in the Texas Rural Water Association costs a utility $1.05 per meter per year (with a minimum of $350.00 per year and a maximum of $4000.00). My clients inevitably find that they get much more than this amount in the value of technical and legal consultations from TRWA staff each year.
My experience with the staff of the TRWA is that they are all great folks: not only are they personable and knowledgeable, they truly have the interests of Texas rural water and sewer companies at heart.