Juncos’ Landfill Repairs and Expansion After Hurricane Maria

Map Showing Juncos Landfill

By Edwin Vázquez-Asencio, Sustainable Materials Management Specialist

Juncos municipality is in the eastern central region of Puerto Rico. Juncos’ landfill receives approximately 35,105 tons of non-hazardous solid waste each year. In 2017, winds from Hurricane Maria destroyed the facility’s leachate collection system, creating a serious health and safety hazard for neighboring communities and was at risk of contaminating underground water resources and nearby streams. The storm’s effects also reduced the landfill’s capacity by 20% and severely reduced its predicted lifespan.

The main challenge was to define the project and determine how the municipality could finance the necessary repairs that were imperative to address this problem. Our goal was to protect the community’s health, assist them in achieving compliance, and support the transition of the facility into a sanitary landfill system. In addition, the community also needed to account for the capacity overflow due to the extraordinary amount of debris which the landfill received in the aftermath of the disaster.

The RCAP Solutions staff served as a fundamental liaison between the municipality, stakeholders, and USDA Rural Development as we assisted the municipality in achieving compliance. Our technical assistance provider coordinated and conducted a training about disaster assistance grant funding and guided them throughout the process, outlining key elements to completing a successful application for USDA funds.

USDA Rural Development awarded Juncos’ Municipality with $23.7 million in grant funding to repair its landfill facilities. The facilities will be expanded to achieve compliance, and in addition, the community’s health will no longer be at risk due to the damage caused by the hurricane.

Community Foundation Awards RCAP Solutions $5,000 to Implement Loan Management System

RCAP Solutions has been awarded a $5,000 Organizational Development Grant from The Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts. This funding will be used to implement a loan management software system and supplement our current financial programs.

Over the next year, we will pursue opportunities to enhance our lending services and aim to establish a revolving loan fund, supporting the Private Well Program to Protect Public Health, an initiative backed by The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts.

There are currently no affordable financing options for homeowners needing repairs or maintenance on their private wells, preventing harmful contaminants from entering household water supplies. These funds will establish a baseline as we explore innovative solutions to combat these issues.

Five-Year Coral Bay Watershed Management Plan Released

The Coral Bay Community Council (CBCC), a non-profit organization which helps communities in the U.S. Virgin Islands with environmental issues, recently released their 2021 Watershed Management Plan, a detailed 5-year outline for the future management of their stormwater and drinking water supply.

The plan is the result of over two years of work by Watershed Consulting Associates, CBCC, local residents, government agencies, and various other community development organizations.

In the wake of the destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, and the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the residents of Coral Bay will benefit from this plan, which incorporates professional analysis and stakeholder input to create a shared vision to address threats to water quality in and around the area.

The full plan can be viewed bewlow or at www.coralbaycommunitycouncil.org, along with an accompanying shorter, “Community Handbook” version.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information, check out CBCC’s press release, here.

RCAP Solutions is a long-time collaborator of CBCC. In addition to contributions made to support this plan, our team in the Caribbean has a extensive history of partnering with the council to provide vital education to industry professionals as well as residents surrounding drinking water, wastewater, and solid waste management.

RCAP Solutions Hires Business Opportunity Specialist

RCAP Solutions is pleased to announce the addition of Madison Wellman as Business Opportunity Specialist, managing the Open for Business program, a new economic development initiative providing support to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Mr. Wellman comes to RCAP Solutions with a diverse background in economic development, nonprofit management, sales, research, and communications. He has experience working in the political arena, as well as with small business startups, which provides him with a unique understanding of diverse business and community challenges.

Wellman served as the Regional Representative for Congressman Antonio Delgado in Oneonta, NY and Delhi, NY, where he worked closely with constituents from diverse backgrounds, including both nonprofit and for-profit enterprises, and municipal government officials. In this role, he met with project stakeholders to discuss issues such as funding resources, grant opportunities, small business concerns, and agricultural issues. He also has experience launching new offices with Bright Drive Healthcare Solutions, where he identified suitable offices spaces, negotiated with realtors and property owners, and addressed other logistical start up challenges. Prior to this, he managed economic development projects at the town and county level for both Schoharie County and the Town of Schoharie, NY. Wellman earned a Bachelor of Science degree in International Business and Economics from Canisius College of Buffalo, NY.

The Open for Business program is funded by Wells Fargo and offers self-guided online workshops, monthly webinars, and one-on-one consulting. This program offers education on a wide-variety of business concepts and caters to the specific needs of many rural, disadvantaged, and minority-owned small businesses. Topics include business law, business planning, marketing, financing, and accounting. These services are provided at no cost, in both English and Spanish, and are coordinated by our national affiliate, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), to provide services to small businesses across the country. RCAP Solutions services the Northeast and Caribbean regions.

“Mr. Wellman is a great complement to our team,” said Jenna Day, RCAP Solutions Director of Community Resources. “His understanding of rural community needs, paired with his legislative work and small business experience makes him the ideal person to support the small business community. The addition of the Open for Business program to our suite of services further expands our ability to support the economic development needs of rural communities in the northeast and Caribbean regions. The wide variety of resources, customized to cater to small business entrepreneurs, provides tremendous opportunity for underserved communities, and those who live and work there, to grow, thrive and cultivate stronger communities.”

RCAP Solutions’ Community Resources staff works hand in hand with community leaders and homeowners to incorporate the best tools and resources suited to protect public health and the environment while progressing towards financial sustainability and improved quality of life.

For additional information about the Open for Business Program, please contact Madison Wellman, Business Opportunity Specialist at: (774) 239-9783, mwellman@rcapsolutions.org or visit: www.rcapsolutions.org/open-for-business/.

About RCAP Solutions:
RCAP Solutions is an integrated community development corporation working with a multi-faceted suite of services in communities throughout the northeastern part of the U.S. and the Caribbean. Established in 1969, RCAP Solutions’ mission is to foster personal and public self-reliance and improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and the communities in which they live. For more information, please visit www.rcapsolutions.org.

Fail to Plan; Plan to Fail

By Kathy Rodgers, State Lead Maine

Providing Assistance with No Back-Up Plan Puts Everyone at Risk.

Emphasis must be placed on ensuring staff are cross-trained and appropriate documentation is available for continuity in operations.

A town manager in Maine, who found himself suddenly in charge of a small community water system, had quite the harrowing experience recently. Unfortunately, this avoidable story is not uncommon.  The small town’s water operator had suddenly taken ill and was hospitalized.  The back-up operator had passed away six months ago.  The community was quite remote, and the town manager was in desperate need of an operator who could help keep their two treatment plants operational.  The system had several treatment phases including pre-chlorination, filtration, aeration, and fluoridation that needed to be monitored and maintained.  After several days and several frantic calls later, they were connected to a licensed contract operator who was willing to drive two hours to investigate the situation.

Upon arrival, the contract operator was greeted by a very green public works employee who was set to be cross trained in the water department but had no working knowledge of the plants.  The public works employee confessed the regular operator, now hospitalized, had told him that all the information was “all up here” as he pointed to his temple.  It seemed the hospitalized operator had always felt his job was threatened and closely guarded operational information. That fear, which is often shared by undervalued operators, is unfortunate as it created a stressful situation for everyone left in his wake.

By the end of day one, the contract operator and the public works employee were able to determine where the maintenance logs and the test kits were located.  The seasoned contract operator was successfully able to show the public works employee how to run the daily test and record the meter readings.  Then the contract operator began searching for the operation and maintenance (O&M) manual or any standard operating procedures (SOPs), to figure out how the system worked, but to no avail.  There were no clear procedures found to follow to ensure the system was running properly.   Under stacks of unfiled paperwork, the contract operator was able to find an emergency response plan that hadn’t been updated in 18 years, which is recommended to be updated annually, but it was with very little detail and of little help.  With the assistance of contract operator’s administrative office, they were able to piece together clues as to how the facilities operated through state records and other pieces of information.

The alarms started sounding by day two.  Not that anyone really knew that alarms were sounding, as the hospitalized operator was the only one getting the notifications.  It was upon arrival to the plant that the public work employee observed the chlorine tank had run dry.  The proper ratio to prepare the chlorine solution was unknown.  The fluoride pump appeared to be unplugged.  Who knows why?  The public works employee was untrained in how to properly handle these dangerous chemicals. The contract operator stepped in again to help batch the chemicals and get the chemical feeds pumping.  The contract operator best recourse and advice was to encourage the town manager and the public works employee to reach out to their regular operator, while in the hospital, to get guidance.   Not an ideal situation for anyone.

This emergency could have all been avoided and continuity in service could have easily been maintained by having an O&M manual readily available.  The O&M manual serves not only as a tool for the operating and maintenance of the facilities for the personnel of the plant; but it also serves as road map for those who must step in when the primary operations’ crew is unavailable.   For the manual to be effective, vital information must be easy to find, quickly and efficiently.  The O&M manual is designed to give treatment system personnel and the back-up operator the proper understanding of techniques and references protocols necessary to efficiently operate their facilities.   Having an O&M manual which includes well written SOPs, and an emergency response plan will ensure that operations will be able continue in a situation when new or temporary staff must be trained quickly.

Moving forward the contract operator has been retained as the town’s back-up operator. His crew has already begun planning to assist with development of a functional O&M manual to eliminate this situation in the future.  The grateful town manager is now keenly aware of the need to document and to have a back-up plan in place.

When developing an O&M manual ask yourself:

  • What do I do on a daily and weekly basis to maintain my water or wastewater treatment system?
  • Do these activities or pieces of equipment that need maintenance involve SOPs, manufacturer’s specifications, or record keeping logs?
  • Do I have the right tools?
  • What documents or logs do I need to develop?

“Thank you so much for the help you guys have provided. You have been wonderful to work with. We will certainly be in touch.” – Town Manager of a Little Town, Anywhere, USA

Shared Solutions Bring Small Victories in Regional Collaboration

By Derik Dressler, PA Regionalization Specialist

As a system operator, manager, or board member you can be overwhelmed by the challenges that your small system routinely faces. While large challenges often demand more complex solutions, I would like to offer some small victories in regional collaboration that have proven to ease the challenges small system’s face. RCAP Solutions has assisted with establishing partnerships among several communities in the last number of years to lessen the burden on the system’s responsibilities. In these systems, the operators work with other operators in times of need whether in an urgent situation or a more routine basis. I would like to present a few real-world examples that led to solving some of these challenges. In one case, the new operator of a small system had no previous operating experience. The operator needed significant guidance and help to proficiently operate the system. In working with the system, RCAP was able to find the operator the help they needed from a neighboring system’s operator. This partnership eventually led to an ongoing working relationship that has proved to be very beneficial to the inexperienced operator. In another part of Pennsylvania, a small rural system needed a certified operator for the small filter plant that served their customers. The owners of the system were burdened by this task and did not know how to make this happen. RCAP was able to provide a list of operators in the area that were willing to operate the system and assist in reaching out to the certified operators. Within a few weeks the system obtained the services of a certified operator alleviating the non-compliance of the system. One other small rural system in Pennsylvania was experiencing significant water loss but was unaware of the exact location of the leak.

The system does not have sufficient leak detecting equipment or the experience needed to operate the equipment effectively. In consultation with RCAP, assistance was found from a neighboring system. The leak was located quickly, and the repair was completed within two days of noticing the water loss. All three examples show how regional collaboration can be effective. Even though the examples are a very small scale of what regional collaboration can be it is important to note the significant impact it had on each community. It is difficult to determine exactly how much impact each of these seemingly insignificant or small collaborative measures may have had. If the operator had not reached out to a more experienced operator for advice on important issues, where could they be now? If the second system did not collaborate with a certified operator to operate the system and continue in violation, what would that have meant for the system? If in fact, the system in the third example did not reach out to find help on the major leak could have it dewatered the system or impacted other portions of the system? While often large challenges demand large solutions, the truth is that we often do not fully comprehend the value in the small victories in collaborating with one another.

As a manager, operator, or board member of a small water system, what are some challenges your utility will face this year? How might partnerships help meet these challenges? RCAP offers free training and assistance in regional collaboration and offers partnership tools to help facilitate your regional collaboration efforts. If this sounds interesting to you, please reach out to Derik Dressler, Regional Collaboration Specialist at ddressler@rcapsolutions.org or 814-571-0727.

RCAP Solutions Career Expo

Achieve Your Professional Goals With a Career at RCAP Solutions!

When: September 8, 2021 • 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Where: RCAP Solutions, 191 May Street, Worcester, MA 01602 (Upper Parking Lot)

Add To Calendar

This September, RCAP Solutions will be hosting a walk-in Career Expo (no pre-registration required). There will be an opportunity to meet with our Human Resources department and program managers, ask questions, and learn more about the benefits of a career with RCAP Solutions. On-site interviews will be conducted, so bring your resume and dress to impress!

We are looking to recruit talented individuals throughout Central Massachusetts, the greater Northeast, and the Caribbean in several areas, including:

  • Affordable Housing Property Management
  • Community Development & Environmental Services (Water/Wastewater Sector)
  • Small Business Development
  • Subsidized Housing Vouchers Administration
  • Housing Counseling & Programs
  • Information Technology
  • Accounting

For a full list of available positions, click here.

Please note: This is a mask-friendly event.


We are looking to recruit talented individuals who are:

Ambitious • Creative • Data-Driven • Diligent • Passionate • Positive • Problem-Solving • Fun!

And who have experience or an interest in one or more of the following areas:

  • Social Services
  • Housing Counseling
  • Case Management
  • Customer Service
  • Property Management
  • Water/Wastewater Operations
  • Engineering Business Development
  • Community Capacity Building
  • Outreach Initiatives
  • Technology
  • Finance Administration
  • Office Administration

About RCAP Solutions

RCAP Solutions is the go-to resource of sustained success for individuals, families, and the communities in which they live. Established in 1969 (as Rural Housing Improvement), we have supported the power and potential of communities for over half a century as strategists of community-wide well-being. Dedicated to nurturing strength, resilience and confidence in those we serve, we engage communities in the realization of a collective vision, creating and implementing a plan to guide them to self-actualized and sustained success.

Our Culture

Our belief in potential extends from the people we work with, to the team we work alongside, all the way to our ourselves as drivers of a brighter future. Our organizational culture inspires all members to embrace opportunities to develop and flourish in the achievement of value-driven goals. Our team is comprised of big-picture thinkers, positive outlookers, flexible operators, and compassionate advocates. Though our backgrounds, skills and diverse perspectives, we are brought together by our dedication to a better world.


A career at RCAP Solutions opens the door to many opportunities!

  • Personal & Professional Growth
  • Community Involvement
  • Flex Your Creativity & Ambition
  • Networking Opportunities
  • Generous Benefits Package
  • Employee Incentives & Events

For more information, please contact our Human Resources department:

HR@rcapsolutions.org

774-303-9403

RCAP Solutions Hires Deputy Director of Community Resources

RCAP Solutions is pleased to announce the promotion of Mark Johnson to Deputy Director of Community Resources.

“As someone who knows something about the job Mark is about to tackle, I can say that the most important skill required is the ability to be flexible and consider the big picture when making decisions”, said Jenna Day, Director of Community Resources, “I have confidence in his ability to carry the role of Deputy Director with ease. Mark respects others’ opinions and is comfortable in sharing his knowledge and experience. I look forward to having his assistance shaping the future of RCAP Solutions’ work throughout the Northeast and Caribbean.”

Mr. Johnson received his Bachelor of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Johnson’s promotion comes after serving six years at the organization as Vermont State Lead.

Johnson has over 20 years of experience in the drinking water field. Prior to joining RCAP, he worked as a water quality engineer at a large, investor-owned water utility in California and before that as a water operator for a small municipal utility in Maine. In his previous role as Vermont State Lead, Mr. Johnson acted as the primary liaison to state primacy agencies and funding officials and provided direct technical assistance to small water and wastewater systems.

“Being able to work directly with Vermont communities on challenging water and wastewater issues has provided me with some of the most rewarding experiences of my career” said Johnson, “RCAP Solutions continues to broaden its impact yet remain flexible amidst a myriad of challenges being faced by rural America. I’m eager and thankful to have an expanded role in shaping that conversation and supporting the technical assistance providers who dedicate themselves to serving their communities and finding solutions.”

RCAP Solutions’ Community Resources staff works hand in hand with community leaders and homeowners to incorporate the best tools and resources suited to protect public health and the environment while progressing towards financial sustainability and improved quality of life.

About RCAP Solutions:
RCAP Solutions is a thriving integrated community development corporation working with a multi-faceted suite of services and opportunities. Established in 1969, RCAP Solutions’ mission is to foster personal and public self-reliance and improve the quality of life for individuals, families, and the communities in which they live. For more information, please visit www.rcapsolutions.org.

Upcoming Training Opportunities for Homebuyers & Homeowners

Upcoming Training Opportunities

RCAP Solutions’ Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) offers many workshops and trainings which are designed to support and educate tenants, potential homebuyers, and homeowners on purchasing and maintaining a home. We offer both virtual and in-person events.

Over the next several months, we will be offering First-Time Homebuyer education as well as Post-Purchase classes for individuals who recently bought a home. Stay tuned to our calendar of events as more workshops become available.


First-Time Homebuyer Workshops

In this MassHousing approved, HUD and CHAPA certified workshop, attendees will learn about programs available to assist income-eligible first time homebuyers; understand the steps in the homebuying process; meet with professionals who will discuss what to look for in a homebuying team; and receive the necessary certification required by many first time homebuyer programs. Check out the flyer below for more information.

Jan 12, 19, & 26, 2022
5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Hybrid
Register Here

Mar 8, 15, & 22, 2022
5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Hybrid
Register Here 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


HomeSafe Post-Purchase Workshops

Congratulations, you bought a house! Now what? By attending RCAP Solutions’ HomeSafe Post-Purchase workshop you will sharpen your knowledge and become equipped with the necessary skills to maintain your home and finances. Check out the flyer below for more information.

Dec 11, 2021
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
In-Person
Register Here

Feb 9 & 16, 2022
5:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Virtual
Register Here

Apr 30, 2022
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
In-Person
Register Here

 

 

 

 

 


If you have any questions, please email us at: HCECedu@rcapsolutions.org or call us at: 978-630-6772

SNO Mass Program Offers Incentives to Landlords

Supporting Neighborhood Opportunity in Massachusetts (SNO Mass) aims to assist families with housing vouchers in moving to communities with high-quality schools, parks and open spaces, and other amenities that help children grow and thrive. SNO Mass provides important benefits to landlords by helping connect our eligible, pre-screened tenants with available rental properties in these desirable neighborhoods. By participating in SNO Mass, we can help landlords meet their financial goals as a property owner and provide families with a place they are proud to call home.

Program benefits for landlords include:

  • Assurance of prompt payment of rent subsidy each month
  • Protection from tenant financial hardships as the voucher can absorb income loss
  • $500 signing bonus + additional $500 after the first year if you renew the lease with the original SNO Mass tenant, have another SNO Mass participant move in, or need to make repairs to the unit that exceed the security deposit
  • Potentially higher rent subsidy than you have been offered by other housing authorities in your area
  • Ready pool of pre-screened applicants who have access to financial assistance to help them settle into their new community
  • Decreased vacancy rates and reduced tenant turnover and related expenses
  • Single point of contact at our agency for any questions/issues that may arise

We have dedicated staff to help make the lease-up process as smooth as possible, and to reduce delays between application and move-in. We will work with tenants in advance to ensure they understand the responsibilities of maintaining their homes and lease obligations. Our staff continue to check in with families during the first two years in their new neighborhood, and property owners are also welcome to reach out at any time.

If you are a landlord who has available units, we would like to schedule a time to talk about this program with you and your property management team. Click here to see if your unit is located in a designated SNO Mass Opportunity Area and check out our SNO Mass FAQs.

We hope you will consider participating in SNO Mass, and becoming part of this important work, while at the same strengthening your bottom line.

Contact Us:
SNOMass@rcapsolutions.org
978-630-6648
www.rcapsolutions.org/sno-mass