Biden-Harris Administration Launches EPA-USDA Partnership to Provide Wastewater Sanitation to Underserved Rural Communities
Historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding Will Help Address Lack of Basic Wastewater Infrastructure in Harlan County, Kentucky
Contact: EPA Region 4 Press Office - (404) 562-8400, email@example.com
FRANKFORT, Ky.-- (August 2 , 2022) - Today, at an event with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack in Lowndes County, Alabama, EPA and USDA announced the Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative. The Initiative will be piloted in 10 areas of the country that have demonstrated great need for assistance to provide basic wastewater sanitation services and aims to eliminate harmful exposure to backyard sewage. EPA and USDA will jointly leverage technical assistance resources to help historically underserved communities identify, and pursue, federal funding opportunities – including from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – to address their wastewater needs.
"The America that 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 doesn’t work—exposing adults and children to backyard sewage and disease,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “By partnering with USDA and leveraging funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA is working to restore dignity and opportunity to rural communities here in Lowndes County and across the country.”
“Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA believes hardworking people in America’s small towns and rural communities should have the infrastructure they need to be healthy and to provide for their families. We recognize that there are still people who have been going without the basics,” said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. “Access to modern, reliable wastewater infrastructure is a necessity, and the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to doing everything we can to ensure every family and every child in America has access to these vital services. By combining USDA and EPA resources and taking advantage of the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we can restore to these communities a sense of economic vitality and social dignity that the people living there deserve.”
“President Biden has been clear—we cannot leave any community behind as we rebuild America’s infrastructure with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This includes rural and Tribal communities who for too long have felt forgotten. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $11.7 billion in loans and grants to communities for a wide range of water-quality infrastructure projects, including wastewater solutions for these communities, “said Mitch Landrieu, White House Infrastructure Coordinator.”
“Many rural communities in our region face tremendous challenges in providing needed wastewater infrastructure services for their residents,” said Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, particularly the Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative, presents a historic opportunity to collaboratively address these needs. These communities will reap economic, environmental and health benefits from this initiative that will help generations to come.”
“Clean water is a basic human right and I am proud to support any program that provides that right to Kentuckians,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.
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 be a roadmap to scale up efforts in the rest of the country. EPA and USDA each offer technical assistance that can help communities access funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other government programs.
- Harlan County, Kentucky (Tri-Cities: Benham, Lynch, Cumberland Communities) – Population declines create challenges to maintaining existing centralized systems. Tri-Cities communities need support to identify and move towards more affordable and sustainable solutions.
The Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative will allow EPA and USDA—in close collaboration with these communities, our state and Tribal partners, and on-the-ground technical assistance providers—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, Tribes, and water agencies have committed to working with the EPA and USDA to support these communities.
Wastewater infrastructure challenges exist in communities across the country. The Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative will be a roadmap to scale up efforts in the rest of the country. EPA and USDA each offer technical assistance that can help communities access funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other government programs.
Several of the communities chosen for this initiative are also participating in the Biden-Harris Administration’s recently announced Rural Partners Network. The USDA-led network brings together twenty 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 Assistance opportunities, visit https://www.epa.gov/water-infrastructure/water-technical-assistance