Biden administration launches USDA-EPA partnership to provide wastewater treatment to underserved communities

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Historic Funding for President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act Will Help Address Lack of Basic Wastewater Infrastructure in Rural America

WASHINGTON, August 2, 2022 – Today, at an event in Lowndes County, Alabama, where a significant number of residents lack access to sewage treatment infrastructure, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and l U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the community initiative Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap. The new initiative will be piloted in 11 communities across the country where residents lack basic wastewater management that is essential to protecting their health and the environment. EPA and USDA will jointly leverage technical assistance resources to help historically underserved communities identify and pursue federal funding opportunities – including from President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act – to address their wastewater needs and eliminate harmful exposure to domestic wastewater.

“Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA believes that hard-working people in small towns and rural American communities should have the infrastructure they need to be healthy and support themselves. of their families. We recognize that there are still people who don’t have the basics,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Access to modern, reliable wastewater treatment infrastructure is a necessity, and the Biden-Harris administration is committed to doing everything in its power to ensure that every family and child in America has access. to these vital services. By combining the resources of the USDA and EPA and leveraging the historic bipartisan Infrastructure Act, we can restore these communities to a sense of economic vitality and social dignity that the people who live there deserve.

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan added, “The America we all believe in is a land of opportunity. But, for historically marginalized communities from Alabama to Alaska, that opportunity is stolen when basic sanitation fails, exposing adults and children to sewage and disease. By partnering with the USDA and raising funds through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the EPA is working to restore dignity and opportunity to rural communities here in Alabama and across the country.

White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu said, “President Biden has been clear: we can leave no community behind as we rebuild America’s infrastructure with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. This includes rural and tribal communities that have felt forgotten for too long. The bipartisan Infrastructure Act provides $11.7 billion in loans and grants to communities for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects, including wastewater treatment solutions for those communities.

An estimated 2.2 million people in the United States lack basic running water and indoor plumbing. Many more live with sewage treatment infrastructure that is inefficient and puts people’s health at risk. The Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative help communities access funding and technical assistance to improve wastewater infrastructure to “close the gap” with wealthier communities. EPA and USDA, in partnership with state, tribal, and local partners, are launching the initiative in:

  • Bolivar County, Mississippi;
  • Doña Ana County and Pueblo of Santo Domingo, New Mexico;
  • Duplin County, North Carolina;
  • Greene County, Alabama;
  • Halifax County, North Carolina;
  • Harlan County, Kentucky;
  • Lowndes County, Alabama;
  • McDowell County, West Virginia;
  • Raleigh County, West Virginia; and,
  • San Carlos Apache Tribe, Arizona.

The Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative will enable the EPA and USDA, working closely with these communities, our state and tribal partners, and on-the-ground technical assistance providers, to leverage technical and financial expertise to advance the response to wastewater treatment infrastructure needs of some of America’s most underserved communities. Each community or tribe will receive direct support to address gaps in wastewater infrastructure that have spanned generations, including the development of wastewater assessments with technical engineering support, the development of solution plans communities for wastewater, identification and pursuit of funding opportunities and long-term capacity building. State governments and water agencies are committed to working with the EPA and USDA to support these communities.

Wastewater infrastructure problems exist in communities across the country. The Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative will be a roadmap for scaling up efforts in the rest of the country. The EPA and USDA each offer technical assistance that can help communities access funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and other government programs.

Several of the communities chosen for this initiative are also participating in the program recently announced by the Biden-Harris administration. Rural Partners Network. The USDA-led network brings together 20 federal agencies and regional commissions to help rural communities create economic opportunity by accessing resources and funding that match their unique needs and priorities.

If you are a community interested in learning more about technical support opportunities, visit www.epa.gov/water-infrastructure/water-technical-assistance

Under the Biden-Harris administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunity, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This aid supports the improvement of infrastructure; Business development; lodging; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed Internet access in rural, tribal and very poor areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. If you would like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development Updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming the US food system with greater emphasis on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe food, healthy and nutritious in all communities, creating new markets and income streams for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in clean energy infrastructure and capacity in the rural America, and committing to equity across the department by removing systemic barriers and creating a workforce that is more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

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The USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

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