Rochester water chief attends Washington conference

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Rochester Chief Water System Operator and New Hampshire Water Works Association President Ian Rohrbacher met with lawmakers, including Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, during a trip to Washington, D.C. (Courtesy Photo)

ROCHESTER -- Ian Rohrbacher, chief operator of the city's water treatment plant, attended the American Water Works Association's (AWWA) Water Matters! meeting in Washington, D.C., last month.

Rohrbacher, who also serves as president of the New Hampshire Water Works Association (NHWWA), represented all of New Hampshire's drinking water providers at the AWWA's annual meeting, where he had a chance to discuss water-related issues with New Hampshire's representatives in Congress as well as water works professionals from around the country.

"The AWWA Fly-In was a great chance for Ian to represent Rochester and the entire state of New Hampshire's water systems," City Manager Daniel Fitzpatrick said. "It enabled him to learn and share national best practices while advocating for an issue that's critical to to all of us, and emphasize the importance of investment and collaboration to maintain our water infrastructure to our lawmakers."

Rohrbacher said he enjoyed the opportunity to meet and learn from his peers in the water industry, as well as with New Hampshire's elected officials to discuss vital investment in the state's nearly 130-year-old water mains.

He cited the contamination of the water in Flint, Mich., as a cautionary tale about the importance of keeping up with system maintenance, adding that he hopes the message he and other water works professionals delivered to lawmakers leads to a more proactive approach to water system maintenance.

"I had engaging, productive meetings with our delegation, and I took away a sense that our elected leaders are very concerned for the maintenance and condition of our water infrastructure, and they are supportive of the needs of water works operators," Rohrbacher said of his meetings with Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Anne Kuster and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan. "I am very proud to have been able to share our message with our representatives in Congress. Together, through regulation and financial support, we can ensure the efficiency and safety of our water systems for years to come."

Rohrbacher was one of 145 AWWA members to attend the conference from around the nation. The Fly-In took place on March 22 and 23, and allowed members an opportunity to directly engage elected leaders and encourage them to support legislation aimed at improving water systems and drinking water supplies

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