EPA to award $12.7M in grants to small U.S. drinking water, wastewater systems

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WASHINGTON, DC, April 3, 2014 -- Grants totalling $12.7 million provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will soon be awarded to small drinking and wastewater systems -- those serving fewer than 10,000 people -- and to private well owners. The grantees will provide training and technical assistance to improve small system operations and management practices, promote system sustainability and support EPA's mission to protect public health and the environment.

"Small systems comprise the vast majority of our nation's public water systems, and it is a priority for EPA to help them to meet drinking water quality standards and provide clean water to communities," said Nancy Stoner, acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Water. "This funding and technical assistance supports EPA's continuing efforts to promote sustainability and public health protection for communities served by small systems."

The awards will include:

  • $4.5 million each to the National Rural Water Association and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership to help small public water systems across the country to achieve and maintain compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)
  • $2 million to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to improve the financial and managerial capabilities of small public water systems across the country
  • $1.4 million to the National Rural Water Association to improve operational performance at small publicly-owned wastewater systems and decentralized wastewater systems, thereby improving public health and water quality
  • $300,000 to the Rural Community Assistance Partnership to inform private drinking water well owners about protecting their drinking water supply and improving water quality

More than 97 percent of the nation's 157,000 public water systems serve fewer than 10,000 people, and more than 80 percent of these systems serve fewer than 500 people. Many small systems face unique challenges in providing reliable drinking water and wastewater services that meet federal and state regulations. These challenges can include a lack of financial resources, aging infrastructure and high staff turnover.

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