A small Montana community facing three daunting challenges – aging water and wastewater systems, a retiring water workforce, and a population with many low-income households – is turning to Community Engineering Corps (CECorps) to find solutions.
Stevensville – Montana’s first permanent settlement — dates back to the mid-1800s, when it was established as a mission and trading post. While the population of this small, rural town is on the rise, the wages of nearly 20 percent of its 2,000 residents are below poverty levels.
“Due to its limited financial resources and the pending retirement of its senior staff, the department faced the prospect of losing valuable institutional knowledge critical to the daily functioning of the town’s water systems,” said Stephen Barr, AWWA’s manager of community engineering programs.
Luckily, Kurt Vause, a 33-year member of AWWA and chair of the Water Utility Council, had a personal connection with the department and brought the project to CECorps. “It matched the core values of CECorps and AWWA by addressing water network information systems, databases, and relevant training for incoming public works staff,” Barr said.