WASHINGTON — Feb. 10, 2016 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded $12.7 million in grants to provide training and technical assistance for small drinking water and wastewater systems, according to a press release.

The funds will be used by nonprofit organizations to provide training and tools to small public water systems, small wastewater systems and private well owners, located in urban and rural communities throughout the United States and its territories, noted the release.

The aim is to improve system operations and management practices, promote system sustainability, and better protect public health and the environment, the agency said in the release.

Grant awards include:

  • $4.0 million each to the National Rural Water Association and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership to help small public water systems across the country achieve and maintain compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • $1.8 million to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to improve the financial and managerial capabilities of small public water systems across the country.
  • $1.2 million to the National Rural Water Association to improve operational performance at small publicly-owned wastewater systems and decentralized wastewater systems, thereby improving public health and water quality.
  • $1.7 million to the Rural Community Assistance Partnership to inform private drinking water well owners about protecting their drinking water supply and improving water quality.

According to the EPA, more than 97 percent of the 157,000 public water systems across the United States serve fewer than 10,000 people, and more than 80 percent of these systems serve fewer than 500 people, stated the release. Many small systems face challenges in providing reliable drinking water and wastewater services that meet federal and state regulations. These challenges can include a lack of financial resources, aging infrastructure and high staff turnover.

“Ensuring safe drinking water for all Americans, whether they live in a small town or a big city, is a priority for EPA and these grants will help smaller systems in communities across the country,” said Joel Beauvais, deputy assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Water, in the release.

You can find the entire release here.