EPA expands wastewater technical assistance initiative

Feb. 28, 2024
EPA has expanded the Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative to 150 additional communities, helping identify affordable means to upgrade wastewater infrastructure.

The U.S. EPA has expanded its Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative to 150 additional communities.

Originally launched in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the pilot initiative has been assisting 11 communities since 2022.

“Many rural and low-income communities in the U.S. lack basic running water and indoor plumbing, and our Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Program has been instrumental in helping communities from White Hall, Alabama to McDowell County, West Virginia to the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona access Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to address this critical need,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “In expanding the program to 150 additional communities, we are working to restore dignity and opportunity to underserved communities nationwide.”

To date, the initiative has helped provide communities with no cost technical assistance that helps identify affordable options accessing wastewater infrastructure. For example, technical assistance providers help the community conduct assessments of the community’s specific needs and submit applications for wastewater funding.

So far, progress for the 11 pilot communities includes seven funding awards and 10 additional funding applications submissions. All 11 communities have drafted community solution plans, which are in the process of being finalized, and will be posted to EPA’s Closing America's Wastewater Access Gap webpage in the early spring.

Bolivar County, Mississippi, project

One example of the initiative is in Bolivar County, Mississippi.

Mound Bayou’s town engineer is finalizing a facility plan for the MS CWSRF funding application by the state’s February 2024 deadline. The facility plan is the next step in the MS CWSRF process for funding a project and will include the proposed sewer extension project from Mound Bayou to the residents of Dunlap.

Dunlap is a community with 34 homes in Mound Bayou, the majority of which have failed or unpermitted onsite systems. Mound Bayou currently serves water to Dunlap and has agreed to extend sewer services to this area.

Extensive public outreach and meetings resulted in Mound Bayou agreeing to be the funding applicant for the sewer expansion project.

The sewer project has been listed in Mississippi’s 2023 Water Pollution Control Revolving Loan Fund Program Intended Use Plan. The estimated project cost is $2 to $3 million.

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