Penneyt Farms Town StaffPENNEY FARMS – The Florida Rural Water Association selected the Town of Penney Farms as the 2020 winner of the Small Public Water System of the Year Award.

“Basically, you have to be in good standing with the department of environmental protection; make sure you don’t have any deficiencies and are in good standing with them,” said Ben Lewis, Program Manager for the Florida Rural Water Association. “You are a member of the Florida Rural Water Association. That’s the two main criteriums. And that you are under population 3,300 for that small system award.”

About two months before the award is given, all Florida Rural Association members are notified that they can submit their applications for recognition.

Penney Farms applied for – and eventually won – the Small Public Water System of the Year Award.

“Utilizing Florida Rural Water. We have an asset management plan,” said Anita Cooper, Penney Farms Town Clerk, of some of the different components in place for the town, which led to the receipt of the award. “All of our items regarding our water lines, sewer lines; all of our utilities are now on a program called Diamond Map, which is a web-based program that you can click on, and it’ll show you where everything is.

“Every time we do a repair, we can put that information into that system. It brings up work order systems, education, and training for different parts of the water system.”

Cooper says that using all of FRW’s services and recommendations were vital in getting to a compliance point that led to becoming the award winner.

Penney Farms has about 250 customers. The water and sewer system are generally outdated, but the town has continued to work on it.

Lewis estimates that for this year, seven small water systems applied for the award. Penney Farms stood out from its competitors by the initiatives it took. It began using the Diamond Maps software, which streamlined their processes and kept better records of the work being done on their water system.

“The award is a direct snapshot of how well the public has a good staff, how well the money has been spent wisely, so it’s a benefit not only to the staff to be recognized but a benefit to the members of the town of Penney Farms to know that their system is being well maintained and their money is being spent correctly and wisely to do that,” said Lewis.

“I think we’ve used every resource they [FRW] have,” said Cooper. “From cost analysis to rate studies. We did water samples; we have really good water here.”

Most residents of the town are not yet aware that the award was won. Cooper said it will soon be on the town website.