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Director's Message For Irrigation, PVF and Waterworks

Scott Bardreau Vice President


Morrie Beschloss

In May of this year, the PVF industry lost one of its biggest and most well-known dignitaries when Morrie Beschloss, the “Grandfather of the PVF Industry,” passed away at 94. Having spent most of his life dedicated to advancing and understanding the importance of pipe, valves and fittings in business and life, Morrie was an unwavering voice of PVF for many generations.

Beschloss was born in Berlin, Germany; at the age of 10, he and his family escaped the Holocaust. He, along with his mother and brother, emigrated to the United States in 1939. Landing in Pittsburgh, he grew up among the steel mills and the background of a city that was helping to build the world.

He moved to southern Illinois, a place that would always hold roots for him. While in high school, Beschloss, an avid athlete, played multiple sports. His love of sports extended to his college years at the University of Illinois, where he served as the sports editor of the school’s Daily Illini. His love for writing and storytelling was formed.

After graduation, Beschloss entered the U.S. Army and served as a first lieutenant during the Korean War. He considered making his career in the Army but soon realized that the world of industry was where he wanted to be. Beschloss joined Hammond Valve in 1956 as an assistant sales manager and grew its sales from $2 million to $5 million a year before being named president in 1963 at age 33. He doubled Hammond Valve’s sales over the next four years and sought acquisitions to grow the company. In an article written in the May 2002 issue of The Wholesaler magazine, Publisher Tom Brown comments on Beschloss’s career: “He would help to build Conval (Hammond Valve’s parent company) into one of the valve industry’s largest entities, with revenues of $120 million a year.”

Beschloss held many positions over the years, including running many PVF companies, “he so loved the PVF industry,” says close industry friend and confidant Jim Coulas, owner of Weldbend. His passion included lending his expertise to both educate via industry seminars and workshops and mentoring so many called upon him for guidance in their chosen professions.

During this time, Beschloss continued writing, penning columns, blogs and features on business, economics and world history—many of which were featured daily/weekly for the Palm Springs Desert Sun. His news videos appeared on the local Palm Springs television stations. Beschloss wrote for many industry publications, but he found his forever home with The Wholesaler magazine, where he wrote on worldly topics and how those impacted the PVF industry.

The Wholesaler inducted Beschloss into the PVF Hall of Fame in its inaugural year. He occupied several marketing positions and has served the industry for 40 years in an executive, personnel and consulting capacity.

Beschloss worked closely with the PVF Roundtable in Houston, where he volunteered his time, expertise and passion for PVF to share with the world. He also lent his talents to many industry groups, including the American Supply Association (ASA), where he was a vital resource and leader for its Industrial Piping Division (IPD).


On June 15, Mike Merlesena, national sales manager for DIG Corp., presented via webinar to the IMARK Irrigation members on DIG’s LEIT 4000, X and XRC Ambient Light, Solar Powered Controllers. DIG’s LEIT 4000, LEIT X and LEIT XRC are advanced, water-management irrigation controllers powered by ambient light (solar), delivering a cost-effective alternative to conventional AC-powered systems. The LEIT controllers are designed for commercial, industrial, municipal and environmental sites without needing to connect to the power grid, supporting a clean and green solution for every irrigation installation. The LEIT X and XRC Series Controllers are advanced ambient light powered water management irrigation controllers. The LEIT X and XRC use a time-tested photovoltaic module, which harnesses light energy to generate electricity that is stored and used to power the controller day and night in any kind of weather. DIG LEIT irrigation controllers are available in two models: LEIT X (without radio) or LEIT XRC (with radio remote control capability). The LEIT X and XRC series irrigation controllers have an improved menu base with straightforward programming that allows for a wide range of irrigation programs. Features include four programs with three start times per valve, manual runs with “skip to the next valve” option, rain delays for up to 99 days, budgeting up to 200%, status checks, review history reports, modify program settings, valve grouping, verify solenoid integrity, radio remote connection (XRC) and more. Using the LEIT Link remote control handset in conjunction with a LEIT XRC controller, the user can review status and history reports, modify program settings, temporarily interrupt a running program, do a manual run and test or skip to the next valve mode from a distance of up to 800 feet line of site. The current running program and current valve open information is provided when activated. In the “Check Status” mode the handset can review time, date, budget, sensor activation and solenoid integrity. In Uplink History one can review the hourly usage of each valve by month, or year, including manual run usage. The LEIT Link handset is a two-way radio device that can request or send information and commands to a particular LEIT XRC controller and receive confirmation for the information sent or requested. The 30-minute webinar can be accessed on the IMARK portal (click on the IMARK RESOURCES icon and locate Dig’s presentation under the 2023 Webinars). In addition, please contact Mike Merlesena at or me at for additional information.


In small and rural communities across the United States, water system operators are stretched thin, covering around-the-clock responsibilities to keep water running safely and reliably despite aging and underfunded infrastructure.

The consequences of a water system falling behind have received the national spotlight, infamously in Flint, Michigan, and most recently in Jackson, Mississippi.

Thousands of under-resourced systems risk a similar fate, and small water systems—defined by the EPA as serving fewer than 10,000 people and making up more than 90% of the nation’s community water systems—are in a particularly precarious position.

Infrastructure, in many places, is crumbling and underfunded, and though there is a fresh infusion of federal money on the table, it’s a challenge to access.

The American Rescue Plan Act and other programs represent a historic investment in the country’s water infrastructure, totaling billions of dollars.

But the total available funding, even after it’s all been doled out, still won’t be enough. It’s estimated that the United States would need to invest nearly $3.3 trillion in water and wastewater infrastructure projects between now and 2039 to keep systems updated.

Over the last two decades, water systems in the 10 states bordering the Mississippi River violated U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations for drinking water more than 438,000 times! That figure includes thousands of instances of heightened levels of harmful chemicals in water each year. Nitrates, trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids, which have all been linked to various cancers and other health hazards, were top contaminants in the EPA’s violation data in 2022. Addressing these issues requires extensive treatments. But in the last two decades, small and large utilities alike have reined in the number of violations.

However, an Ag and Water Desk analysis of EPA Safe Drinking Water Act violation data nationwide found small water systems have been slower to reduce their violations than larger systems. And these violations only represented those reported; there could be many more incidences of unreported issues. In the 10 states along the Mississippi River, both small and large water systems saw increases in violations newly reported during 2022 and to date 2023. For small water systems, that increase was more significant.

Widespread water workforce shortages make accessing infrastructure funding an even bigger task for small water systems’ overworked staff, despite desperate needs. Smaller systems are at an inherent disadvantage. Larger utilities, with more ratepayers and bigger budgets, often have experts on staff to go after competitive funding pots. Without sustained infrastructure funding, communities in turn face a rising water rate. In many rural areas, it’s a bill they can’t afford.

Across the United States, where many communities are built along snaking creeks and rivers and between rolling hills, residents don’t trust the tap. Decades of water district mismanagement, including chronic reports of discolored water and burdensome service shutoffs, eventually culminate in individual states having to takeover to get the country’s water provisions on the right track.

In North Texas, many homeowners are forced to buy about 40 gallons of bottled water from retailers every week because the water is not drinkable. To make matters worse, if given to pets, because of chlorine levels in the water, the pets immediately begin to vomit. Residents in north Texas have been going through two and a half to three years of this with a local water service provider. Leak notices, low water pressure notices and boil water notices are issued on a far too frequent basis. Neighborhoods try to unite online to find anyone who would bring attention to this issue since TCEQ and [Public Utility Commission] keep pointing the finger at each other and not doing anything. Water companies continue to deny the problem, saying all the water quality tests at the tank are fine while residents say they’re not. In fact, last year, north of Dallas, it was so bad that the water utility actually did a line flush for nearly eight hours to try to clear the lines.

At the recent AWWA show I attended in Toronto, concern was expressed about aging water lines in many communities that were leaking up to 90% of the water they were carrying, according to the estimates of many states’ county water operations. This equates to hundreds and hundreds of millions of gallons of water going to waste every month. And to make matters worse, the cost to repair and/or replace the affected waterlines is complicated by the fact that in many rural areas, there are miles of water lines for relatively few homes, compared to larger cities where repairs to relatively short lines impact a much larger population. The cost to repair often burdens a smaller population in the rural areas and smaller communities, often where it can least be afforded. And to make matters worse, many U.S. states have historically relied on taxing local industry to fund water and other infrastructure needs. As these industries struggle to recover from epidemic losses, that funding has dried up, turning the burden over to ratepayers.

Even if systems can access one-time federal infrastructure funding, once it’s spent, they’ll return to current levels of funding. In small communities, that just won’t be enough.