The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) recently announced the Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative. The new program 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. USEPA and USDA will jointly leverage technical assistance resources to help historically underserved communities identify and pursue Federal funding opportunities to address their wastewater needs and eliminate harmful exposure to backyard sewage.
An estimated 2.2 million people in the United States lack basic running water and indoor plumbing. Many more live with wastewater infrastructure that is ineffective and puts people’s health at risk. The Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative will help communities access financing and technical assistance to improve wastewater infrastructure to “close the gap” with wealthier communities.
The Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative will allow the USEPA, USDA, communities, on-the-ground technical assistance providers, and State and Tribal partners to leverage technical and financial expertise to make progress on addressing the wastewater infrastructure needs of some of America’s most underserved communities. Each community or Tribe will receive direct support to address wastewater infrastructure shortcomings that have lasted generations, including developing wastewater assessments with technical engineering support, developing wastewater community solution plans, identifying and pursuing funding opportunities, and building long-term capacity. State governments and water agencies have committed to working with the USEPA and USDA to support these communities.
The Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative aims to become a roadmap to scale up efforts in the rest of the country. USEPA and USDA each offer technical assistance that can help communities access funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other government programs. To access more information from the USEPA about technical assistance opportunities for communities, click here.