VRWA Conference and Technical Exposition

July 13-15, 2020


Announcing VRWA 2020 Annual Awards

The year 2020 has brought about many new and unprecedented experiences for all.  During the upheaval of the worldwide pandemic, we recognize even more the great work that is done by those in the water and wastewater industry.  Not everyone realizes the work and training that is needed to keep our water safe for consumption, so we thank you for all you do to keep us safe and healthy now and in the future.   Even though our 2020 Annual Conference and Technical Exposition was cancelled due to health concerns and restrictions from COVID-19, VRWA recognizes the hard work of Virginia’s water and wastewater workers.   Thank you and congratulations!

(Excerpts taken from nomination letters.)


Lori Coffey

Lori Coffey is the recipient of VRWA’s 2020 Office Worker of the Year. Lori began working at the Town of Woodstock in 2013. Over those years, she has progressed from a part-time Administrative Assistant to a full-time Accreditation Manager. Under her direction the town’s utilities and public works department achieved national accreditation from the American Public Works Association in June 2019, becoming the ninth in the state and 154th nationwide. She regularly assists the chief operators of the water and wastewater treatment plants along with the town’s municipal office. Lori has helped the utilities department become a more efficient and well-run organization.

Joey Haddock

The 2020 VRWA System Operator Specialist for Water is Joey Haddock from the Town of Luray. Throughout his 15 years of serving the Town of Luray, Joey has shown many exemplary characteristics both as a water operator, plant superintendent, mentor, and leader. He has a great ability to resolve conflicts and handle difficult situations with patience and tact. He exemplifies the virtue of good citizenship and workmanship. Joey has worked tirelessly in keeping the water plant in continuous compliance with public health standards. He has made significant modifications to make treatment more efficient and effective. He also works with operators and town staff to train them. Joey often performs special acts not directly related to the water plant which demonstrates dedication to the public beyond his normal operating responsibilities.

Dustin Fisher

In 2020, VRWA awards the System Operator Specialist for Wastewater to Dustin Fisher from the City of Waynesboro. Although Dustin has been with Waynesboro’s Wastewater Treatment Plant for only four years, he has risen from an entry-level technician to chief operator during that time. He has done well in uniting staff and bringing about constructive change in morale and work performances due to his belief in the power of teamwork and his positive attitude. Dustin works tirelessly to safeguard the citizens of Waynesboro and the environment.

City of Waynesboro

VRWA’s Water System of the Year goes to the City of Waynesboro Water Treatment Plant. This plant went online April 2009 and has continuously supplied safe, clean, and potable water. In 2010 it won the award for Best Public Building Design and in 2016 won Best Tasting Water. In 2019 the water treatment plant had no Notice of Violations, no coliform bacteria detected, turbidity levels averaging 0.014 ntu, and lead and copper test in the +90th percentile both below action levels. In recent years, the quality and reputation of the drinking water in Waynesboro has enticed major businesses to locate to the city, including a brewery and flavored water bottling company. Not only has the plant produced great water, but the staff actively participates in public education and outreach programs.

Doug Blakley

We think VRWA is one of Virginia’s best kept secrets. Turns out that Doug Blakley from Lee County Service Authority is another of Virginia’s best kept secrets. And, he is also this year’s winner of VRWA’s Maintenance Technician of the year award. Doug began his career in the water industry at the age of 18. Over the years he has acquired a wealth of knowledge in various aspects of the water and wastewater field. He has a well-known ability to detect leaks. He has consistently improved Lee County’s water accountability yearly and has drastically reduced I & I in the wastewater collection system. More often than not, he is the technician right in the middle of any repair or technical issues regardless of time or weather with Lee County PSA or other local utilities in need of help.

Frank Spitzer

Frank Spitzer from the Town of Round Hill is this year’s winner of the VRWA Lab Technician of the Year. Although Frank has worked for the Town of Round Hill for a few years, he has taken over the role of daily testing. From those tests, he offers suggestions for treatment changes and keeps the supervisor aware of any subtle change. Without Frank, this much needed information would be lacking, as it had been prior to his employment at the Town of Round Hill. He has become a great asset to the Town of Round Hill in operations, lab testing, and troubleshooting of the plant and equipment.

Mike Fields

Mike Fields has been awarded the 2020 Friend of Rural Water. Mike has long been a part of the waterworks (since 1983), which gave him the opportunity to participate in the very first VRWA conference in Natural Bridge. He has been a great behind-the-scenes help at many VRWA conferences by supporting VRWA staff by doing registration, running errands, making coffee, driving the golf cart and many other activities. He has also participated in many of VRWA’s classes in order to receive his CPE’s over the years. He truly cared about his workplace trying to keep it clean and safe.

Tommy Roberts

Another great Friend of Rural Water is Tommy Roberts, who has also been awarded Friend of Rural Water. Many in the water profession will say, “Yeah, I know Tommy. He’s a great guy.” Tommy has always been an active member of VRWA for over 35 years and has had a great relationship with VRWA staff. As part of that time, Tommy served as a VRWA Board Member. He is mild, honest, tender-hearted, fair, dependable, and a friend. He is truly a “Friend of Rural Water” as he put his life and dedication into the industry. Happy Retirement!

Danny Thompson

Last, but not least an award goes to our regular awards presenter – Danny Thompson from the Town of Kenbridge has received the award of Friend of Rural Water. Danny has been a member of the VRWA awards committee giving recognition to others for over 20 year. Throughout his years he has played small and large roles as a part of the VRWA family. He was always willing to help out anyway he could. He has never let us down and always stepped up to the plate.








A Message to our Members and Conference Attendees

The Board of Directors of Virginia Rural Water Association has decided to cancel the 2020 VRWA Annual Conference and Exhibition scheduled for July 13-15 in Roanoke at the Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center. This was a difficult decision in these unprecedented times dealing with the effects of COVID-19. The decision to cancel centered on protecting our members’ physical and economic health.

The uncertainties surrounding the logistics of hosting an annual conference with attendance of over 600 people in our exhibit hall, general sessions, and at meal functions led the board to make the decision to cancel. As of now, gatherings are greatly limited in Virginia and we do not know when those restrictions might be lifted.

Thank you for your membership and understanding during these times. Please know that we always try to make decisions in the best interests of our members and their people! If you paid for conference registration, we will be reimbursing your credit card or sending you a check over the next few weeks.  Or if you prefer to donate your payment to VRWA, please let us know as soon as possible at email@vrwa.org or 540-261-7178.  

If you registered under the VRWA block at Hotel Roanoke, your money will automatically be reimbursed; there is no need to call them.  If you registered at another hotel, please contact them concerning your reservation.

Also during the board meeting held June 2nd, a motion was made and passed to extend the current term of those Board Members whose terms expire in 2020 until VRWA's next conference in April 2021.  Todd Kilduff (At-Large), Mark Estes (Region V), Nathan Carroll (At-Large), and Tom Delbridge (Corporate) will have their terms extended until April 2021.  

Since many of you depend upon our conference for your CPEs, we will be reaching out to those presenters who had been scheduled for our conference to determine if they will be able to present over the next few months via webinars or other class settings.  Please check out our class schedule and watch for future emails concerning upcoming classes.

Although our conference has been cancelled, we still greatly appreciate everyone's efforts now and in the past.  We will be announcing winners of VRWA's annual awards in the near future.  

We would also like to give a special thank you to all of our corporate sponsors who supported VRWA's Conference preparations - Southern Corrosion, Munilink, Tencarva, Heyward, B&B Consultants, Dorsett, Hydrostructures, ESS, The Lane Group, Delta Systems, CLA-VAL, Timmons, Garrison Enterprises, Potesta & Associates, Dewberry, and Bowman Consulting Group.  All sponsorships will be applied to our next annual conference. Once again thank you!

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me or anyone else at the VRWA office at 540-261-7178 or mritchie@vrwa.org.  Check out our website at https://www.vrwa.org/EventsTraining/Conference/Conference2020.aspx for complete details.  VRWA is here for you.

Mike Ritchie, VRWA Executive Director 

Hotel Information


If you registered at Hotel Roanoke under the VRWA block, do not call Hotel Roanoke.  They will reimburse your monies automatically.

If you registered at any other hotel, please contact them concerning your reservation.


Conference Overflow Hotels

Hampton Inn & Suites


Holiday Inn Tanglewood - Roanoke


Hyatt Place Roanoke