RCAC trainer Neil Worthen
RCAC trainer, Neil Worthen, talks about disinfection byproducts at training in Espanola. Photo taken by Mike Boyd, RCAC trainer.

American Water Works Association (AWWA) and Rural Community Assistance Association formed a unique collaboration in May to deliver water distribution system training to operators in rural areas of Colorado, Idaho and New Mexico. The 26 attendees in Montrose, Colorado; 15 in Rexburg, Idaho; and 16 in Espanola, New Mexico; expressed nearly universal appreciation for the opportunity to earn six credit hours for certification without traveling to distant, more populated areas. Similar workshops will be held this year in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii and Utah, in collaboration with the AWWA sections serving those states.

The curriculum, developed jointly by AWWA and Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Inc. (RCAP), included fundamentals of distribution system infrastructure, water quality, flushing, disinfection and disinfection byproducts, coliform sampling, water main breaks and cross connection control. RCAC trainers Mike Boyd, Neil Worthen and Ty Long conducted the training and group exercises, while AWWA section trustees coordinated venues and logistics—refreshments and  lunch delivered to each venue, all at no cost to attendees.

The venues were modern, comfortable and accommodating, but The Española venue was especially notable. Situated on the historic downtown plaza, The Misión y Convento Museum is a replica of the original church built by the Spanish in 1598, based on excavations of the site conducted in the 1940s.  Inside the building, artwork represents four centuries of ancient history of the Española Valley. Freestanding, hand-painted altars, elaborate sculptures, hand-carved benches and communion rails, all constructed in Spanish Colonial design surrounded workshop attendees. Local artists produced the striking examples of woodwork, tinwork, colcha embroidery and paintings.

“I’ve been doing training for 25 years and this is by far the most beautiful venue I have ever conducted a class in,” said lead trainer Neil Worthen.

RCAC extends its sincere thanks to Mike Berry, Bud Spillman, Randy Hays, Rochelle Larsen and Paul Fanning of the AWWA Rocky Mountain Section, and Alana Boyd and Donna Conner of the AWWA Intermountain Section, whose assistance and support helped make these workshops a resounding success.