U.S.-Mexico border clean water access, improved infrastructure the focus of joint initiative

Sponsored by


WASHINGTON, DC, April 4, 2014 -- A joint initiative between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) aims to improve access to clean water and wastewater infrastructure for U.S. communities along the Mexico border. This initiative is part of the organizations' ongoing partnership to increase the sustainability of rural drinking water and wastewater systems.

Many border communities lack the funds to build or rebuild their drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. Failing wastewater systems can significantly harm the environment, spilling untreated wastewater into streets, streams and rivers, and forcing raw sewage to back up into homes. Likewise, failing and inadequate water systems can harm community health by increasing the risk of water-borne illnesses such as salmonella and hepatitis A as well as gastrointestinal diseases.

USDA and EPA have conducted an initial needs assessment for water and wastewater infrastructure in the border region. The findings are published in the U.S. [FJ-RWD1] Mexico Border Scoping Assessment Phase 1 Report. The report identified communities in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas that require improved water infrastructure and/or face environmental and/or public health risks associated with inadequate or failing water infrastructure systems.

USDA plans to award up to $500,000 through Rural Development's Technical Assistance and Training Grant program to a private, non-profit group for an in-depth priority assessment of the counties identified in the report. The assessment will include recommendations on the best way to deliver technical assistance. USDA anticipates that this analysis will be completed in late 2014. Further, based on this analysis, USDA and EPA will target technical assistance to the neediest communities and establish partnerships to provide or improve access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

Through this effort, USDA and EPA are helping rural communities implement strategies and tools to protect public health, improve water quality and create sustainable communities. This partnership has produced tools such as the Rural and Small Systems Guidebook to Sustainable Utility Management. It provides a step-by-step guide for sustainable operation and management of small water and wastewater systems. The partnership has also produced the Workshop in a Box manual, which provides materials to technical assistance providers who would like to market and conduct workshops based on the guidebook.

USDA has invested more than $125 million in water and waste projects in colonias since the start of the Obama Administration. The Department's StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative is utilizing the full array of resources in the poorest parts of rural America, including the colonias along the border. Colonias are small, rural communities along the border, some in federally-recognized Native American tribal areas, that have not had regular access to water and modern sanitation systems because that type of infrastructure was not required to be installed at the time the properties were sold and their houses built.

See also:

"Water resources in U.S.-Mexico border region sought for solutions by GNEB, White House

"EPA Region 9 Focuses on Aiding "Underserved" Communities"

 ###

Sponsored by

TODAY'S HEADLINES

Wastewater & Environmental Consultant Ramboll Acquires ENVIRON

Danish engineering, design and consultancy firm, Ramboll has acquired the U.S. based environmental and health consultancy, ENVIRON for $1.7 billion.

NSF to begin testing of new ballast water treatment system for USCG type approval

The NSF International Independent Laboratory will begin the testing of Evoqua's SeaCURE ballast water management system in preparation of the U.S. Coast Guard's full type approval. 

SUEZ to expand major Middle East WWTP in new contract

SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT, through its subsidiary Degrémont, has been commissioned by the Government of Qatar's Public Works Authority (Ashghal), in consortium with its Japanese partner Marubeni Corporation, to expand the Doha West wastewater treatment and recycling plant.

IDA announces deadline extension for 2014-2015 Fellowship Award applications

The International Desalination Association has extended the deadline of applications for its 2014-15 Fellowship Program, giving candidates until Jan. 31, 2015 to apply.

FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA