Eliminating Illegal Dumping in Puerto Rico

Edwin Vázquez-Asencio, Sustainable Materials Management Specialist, RCAP Solutions, Puerto Rico

Collores is one of the most named barrios in Juana Díaz PR. It was the birth place of  poet Luis Llorens Torres, one of the most important journalists of the first decades in the 20th century in PR. As a lawyer, playwright, politician and poet, he was responsible for the immortalization of the beauty of the rural areas of Collores in his writings. But in recent decades some of the beauty of “El Valle de Collores” was lost as a result of poor management of the solid waste.

Due to the collaborative strategy and the efforts between the “Solid Waste Taskforce” members and the communities, we can appreciate a positive change.  The Natural Resources Department contacted RCAP to refer a situation with the establishment of an illegal dumping site in the Agustinillo Sector at the road 512 km 4.2.  The place near the river is been used for the accumulation of solid waste for future pickup by the municipality.  Using the information in the RCAP solid waste brochure published in the community newspaper, some residents called the DRNA  Vigilant Corp. to complain about the problem. The lieutenant in charge, looking for a more proactive way to deal with the situation, oriented the residents in the sector and some interviews were made by RCAP TAP.pr dumping

“The residents who agree with this practice alleged that the area was designated by the municipality employees who collect the materials. They also claimed that the collection service has been delayed for a few weeks; according to them, maybe more than two months.”

With the assistance of the DRNA the residents were oriented about the consequences of that practice for the environment, the river and their health, also the legal penalties associated with the intervention from the DRNA and the police.

The community ceases the practice and contacted the municipality officers for the collection with the information provided during our intervention.  TAP call the Juana Díaz DTOP Director to let him know about the situation and coordinate the removal of the materials. The DRNA on their part contacted JD DTOP to require action on the collection of the materials. The municipality took action immediately.

With the participation of residents of the Agustinillo sector, TAP performed a cleaning and restoration of the area used for illegal dumping.  The small illegal dumping site in progress was stopped and eliminated. The place was programed for the developing of a land scape that will be adopted by community members.  Community groups such as; the Colectivo Valle de Collores, were involved in the process and additional members of other sectors will be contributing with the design of a landscape.

The DRNA donated endemic bushes for the place.  The activity was reported to the Regional Offices of DRNA and all stakeholders, as a result of this, the State Department of Transportation and Public Works collaborated with the initiative and invited the community to their nursery for orientation and selection of other ornamental plants. The adoption of the area is going to be made formally by DTOP. The residents are in the process of developing a project in which they can integrate food crops and ornamentals in the area in order to address the interest of residents with different interests.  Some banana trees were planted in the background as suggested by the some of them.

The PR Natural Resources Department Vigilant Corp was present on the cleanup and the possible violators of the law were identified for orientation about the situation and the possible repercussions of their behavior.  A sign donated by Colectivo Valle de Collores was placed in the area with a positive message: “ Isla Adentro: peces, flores, pájaros, aire puro, aguas cristalinas…pr dumping1Consérvalos.  (Inside Island: fish, flowers, birds, pure air, crystal clear waters…Preserve it).

After a few months the place remains clean and the donated plants are in the area waiting for the final design and the top soil conditioning. Collores is going back to be the idyllic place nostalgically described by one of its favorite sons; who immortalized its rural beauty before the solid waste were part of the scene.  Thanks to the team work of the taskforce created by RCAP and the community support Collores is changing for good; the empowerment of the community is taking place in the solid waste management and we are convinced of the success of or approach.

RCAP Solutions Staff Receive National Awards

Robert Stewart, Executive Director for the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) presented two RCAP Solutions Employees with prestigious national awards during the RCAP annual conference last year in Memphis, Tennessee.

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Robert B. Stewart, Executive Director, RCAP, Inc. with Candace Balmer, Community Development Specialist, RCAP Solutions, receiving The Bill French Bridge-builder Award.

Candace Balmer, Community Development Specialist, New York, was the recipient of the The Bill French Bridge-builder Award, given to an RCAP staff member who has been successful in building his/her state RCAP program, whether in reputation and credibility or in funding. She has advanced her state program to a higher level of operations through new and enhanced relationships with funding and/or primacy agencies or other partners, new services offered to communities, and/or new grants or contracts obtained. This award is named for Bill French, one of RCAP’s founding members who leveraged the RCAP program to build a strong and well-respected agency, and is given to a recipient who has successfully advanced her state program to a higher level of operations. The recipient has, in the sense of being a bridge, enabled a program to cross over barriers, led a program along a road to realize a vision, and brought a plan to fruition. The person has been a true connector and has led programs to success.

 

Scott Mueller, Chief Community Services Officer & Director Rural Assistance with Karen Koller, President & CEO, RCAP Solutions after being presented with the Outstanding Mentor Award.

Scott Mueller, Chief Community Services Officer & Director Rural Assistance with Karen Koller, President & CEO, RCAP Solutions after being presented with the Outstanding Mentor Award.

 

Scott Mueller, Chief Community Services Officer & Director Rural Assistance, received the Outstanding Mentor Award for teaching and mentoring new Technical Assistance Providers and helping them become productive members of the RCAP team. This award is given to a State/Regional Coordinator who has made a difference in the program through his expert guidance and valuable knowledge and being a nurturing, fostering leader.

Testimonial – Village of Granville, NY

villagemainI am writing to express the Village of Granville’s appreciation and strong support for Mark Johnson of RCAP Solutions Inc.  Mr. Johnson has been instrumental in developing the operations and maintenance plan for the Village’s new Water Treatment Plant, completed in 2012.  Mr. Johnson is consistently organized and prepared, and he has utilized his experience to aid the Village with numerous recommendations in maintaining compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, as well as to make the plant safer and more efficient.

At a time when the Village has been short staffed due to budgetary constraints (operating with a staff of 6 instead of 8), Mr. Johnson’s assistance and counsel has been most helpful. The Operations and Maintenance Plan that he has helped to develop is an absolute necessity for the future, as the Village will be losing two of our senior operators to retirement in the next 24 months.

Mr. Johnson has consistently displayed a professional and positive attitude in assisting the Village throughout the process. On behalf of the Village, I would like to express our sincere appreciation, and also state that we hope for the opportunity to continue our relationship with him in the future as time and funding allow.

Sincerely,

Scott Mackey

Mechanic/Water Plant Operator

Village of Granville, Granville, New York

RCAP Receives Award from Department of Agriculture

RCAP Solutions has been awarded $244,831 from the USDA-Logo-300x167 Department of Agriculture’s RCDI grant program.

This grant will allow RCAP Solutions the opportunity to undertake 33 Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping or technical assistance projects to 14 recipients and 20 beneficiaries in rural and low income communities in Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico that work to develop the capacity of the recipients through the provision of training, technical assistance and the development and outreach resource materials.

The primary focus of the projects is to increase the capacity of small, rural water and wastewater systems by providing high level GIS services and technical assistance and training.

RCAP will also provide financial and technical assistance to recipients to develop their capacity and ability to undertake related projects for housing, community facilities, or community and economic development by providing technical, financial, managerial training and technical assistance that focuses on board development, energy efficiency, source water protection, asset management, and effective utility management.

“This is the second time that we have been awarded this grant, but with a sizable increase over our last award,” stated Karen A. Koller, President & CEO of RCAP Solutions. “This award will allow us to increase the capacity of small, rural water and wastewater systems by providing high level GIS services and technical assistance and training in Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico.”

The overall goal of the project is to increase the capacity of the recipients through the provision of training and technical assistance as well as the implantation of a GIS solution specifically designed for each beneficiary.  Each local beneficiary will be equipped with a cutting-edge GIS solution capable of significantly improving operational efficiency.

Water and wastewater facilities are one of the primary factors that limit the community and economic development opportunities in rural areas.  Enhancing the capacity at such facilities supports effective management of this infrastructure.  Furthermore, training and technical assistance will help in developing the capacity to implement and utilize GIS technology.  GIS is an important and effective tool for infrastructure management, land use planning, and community outreach and consensus-building.

RCAP has the training materials and delivery network, skilled rural community technical assistance providers, and relationships with county planning offices to make these services accessible and beneficial to the rural and low income systems participating in this project.

RCAP will meet with each recipient prior to commencing each project to discuss project work plans and goals and will use a variety of benchmarks to measure the success of the program.

Disclaimer: Any RCAP Solutions work completed with small communities for GIS is strictly to provide data to small systems and counties and is in no way intended for design, construction and surveying use.

National Legislative Update

Legislative update for NLProvided by Ted Stiger, Director of Policy, Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP)

Congress needs to pass a stopgap spending before this current fiscal year ends on September 30. Congress continues to debate a measure that would fund government programs at current levels (fiscal year 2016) until December 9. Senate leaders hope to pass their version of the bill this week to avoid a government shutdown and keep federal agencies funded into FY 2017, which starts on October 1. The House is likely to follow the Senate and adopt the same measure.

 Congressional leaders have not reached a deal yet on emergency Zika virus funding and language restricting funds for Planned Parenthood from the Zika package, which has caused delays in getting the funding measure passed.

Congress will still have to return in a lame-duck session after the elections to complete the full FY 2017 appropriations process.

On September 15, the Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA)-S. 2848. The legislation identifies $4.5 billion of water-related infrastructure projects and authorizes $4.9 billion for drinking and clean water infrastructure over five years.

The measure also provides $220 million in direct emergency assistance to address drinking water issues in communities such as Flint, MI.

Of interest to RCAP, the bill authorizes a grant program to assist small and disadvantaged communities in complying with the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. A priority is given to underserved communities without basic drinking water or wastewater services. This section authorizes $230 million for FY 2017, and $300 million for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2021.

Additionally, the bill establishes a technical assistance program for small treatment works, to be carried out by qualified nonprofit technical service providers. Authorizes $15 million a year for five years. A full section by section summary of the bill is attached in the appendices of this report.

Over in the House, legislative efforts are underway to move their WRDA package (H.R. 5303) for floor consideration this week. Should the House pass its WRDA package, a conference committee could work to reconcile the respective Senate and House packages in time for enactment of the final bill during a December Lame Duck session.

Ted Stiger joined RCAP in 2016 as Policy Director and is responsible for the organization’s national policy and legislative efforts as well as RCAP’s USDA grant portfolio.  

RCAP Solutions is the Northeast affiliate of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership. The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) is a national network of nonprofit organizations working to ensure that rural and small communities throughout the United States have access to safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater disposal. The six regional RCAPs  its partners or affiliates provide a variety of programs in their section of the United States to accomplish this goal, such as direct training and technical assistance; leveraging millions of dollars to assist communities develop and improve their water and wastewater systems.

A Note of Thanks from a Client

We are always pleased to receive feedback from the clients and communities we serve.

We were especially grateful for this recent note from the South Ashmere Water Association, located in Hinsdale, MA, in Berkshire County, which included a donation of $100. This contribution will help our organization to continue the important work we do to help individuals and communities to build pathways to self-sufficiency and expanded economic opportunity.

The note reads:

Dear Jim, Thank you note Ashmere

On behalf of the South Ashmere Water Association, I want to thank you for your help in shaping our asset management plan.  We could not have complied with the D.E.P. (Department of Environmental Protection) requirement or found a practical way of using the information without your help! 

Please accept the donation enclosed in appreciation for your service. 

Sincerely, 

Clay Knapp, President

RCAP/AWWA Workshop

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Small System Operator Training: Achieve and Maintain Compliance with the SDWA (Systems <10,000)

June 2 – Jeff’s Catering, 15 Littlefield Road, Brewer, ME – 8:00a.m. – 3:30p.m.

Workshop Description:
Your utility faces daily-to-day challenges providing reliable, safe drinking water for your customers while avoiding costly violations. The American Water Works Association (AWWA), in conjunction with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), and the New England Water Works Association (NEWWA) is offering a FREE 1-day workshop to help your utility learn about compliance with drinking water regulations and steps to avoid costly violations. This workshop is made possible by funding through the U.S. EPA and AWWA’s partner, RCAP.

Continuing Education Credits – AWWA will offer TCHs for workshop attendance (pending state approval at time of mailing).

Individual registration is required through NEWWA. Click here to download registration form

Course Presenters:

Arthur Astarita is a water resource specialist and the Maine State Lead for RCAP Solutions. He is a professional geologist and joined RCAP in March 1998 after 22 years as an international petroleum explorationist. He has helped complete numerous water and wastewater infrastructure improvement projects throughout New England.

Mark Johnson is a technical assistance provider and state lead in Vermont with RCAP Solutions. He has more than 15 years’ experience in water treatment and distribution. He has a bachelor’s in civil and environmental engineering from Northeastern University in Boston, and has worked in the municipal and private sector as a certified water treatment and distribution operator. He has been certified in water treatment, distribution, backflow testing, and cross connection control program administration in several states.

Rebecca Reynolds is a community development specialist with RCAP Solutions. She has more than 20 years’ experience in the water and wastewater field, including water and wastewater operations, laboratory processes, operator training, and asset management. She is a certified Class IV Water Treatment Operator, Class III Distribution System Operator, and Wastewater Treatment Operator V in Maine; a Certified Environmental Specialist, and a Certified Check Up for Small Systems (CUPSS) trainer.

Audience: Operators, managers, or governing body of a small system.

Click here to register or for more information

(Please note, to register, you must download, print and complete the form in the above link, then fax/email/mail to NEWWA)

 

Maine Field Office Grand Opening

 

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We’re Celebrating the Grand Opening of Our New Maine Field Office!

Thursday, May 12, 2016 ~ 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Ribbon Cutting & Presentations at 2:00 p.m.

RCAP Solutions, Inc.

477 Congress Street, 5th Floor, Portland, Maine 04101

Refreshments will be served

Please R.S.V.P. to
Maegen McCaffrey, Chief Communications Officer
978.630.6714, mmccaffrey@rcapsolutions.org

Click here for directions.

 

About RCAP Solutions:Maine Logo

Our Mission: To foster personal and public self-reliance and improve the quality of life for individuals, families and the communities in which they live.

Established in 1969, RCAP Solutions is a comprehensive 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, helping individuals, families and communities with a wide range of beneficial services providing our most basic needs including safe, affordable housing and clean drinking water. 

Our Community Resources Division promotes public, environmental and economic health by providing consulting, planning, financing, regulatory and compliance oversight, management and operational support for a wide range of community development and infrastructure projects.

RCAP Solutions is the Northeast affiliate of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), a national network of regional nonprofit organizations that provide comprehensive, on-site technical assistance and training to help small, rural communities address their drinking water, wastewater, and other community development needs.  We provide services in all six New England states, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This is Our Home: Tackling Rural Solid Waste Issues in Puerto Rico

IMG_0493As the snow storm winds down here in Central MA, we thought it appropriate to share a video made recently about the clean-up efforts RCAP is spearheading in Puerto Rico. This video shows the tremendous support shown by the community, resulting in over 400 volunteers coming together in the poor, rural barrio of Manzanillo, to clean a beach destroyed by illegal dumping. Our second annual clean-up will take place in just a few weeks in Guayabal, a similar area just a few miles away.

https://vimeo.com/143277565

Click here for more detailed information about the cleanup including before and after photos:  http://www.rcapsolutions.org/rcap-solutions-changes-lives-and-perceptions-in-a-rural-puerto-rican-community/

Testimonial from a Partner in Maine

I want to thank you for all the assistance RCAP Solutions has provided to drinking water and wastewater operators in the Train-the-trainer-training-to-achievestate of Maine.  Each year our future industry leaders benefit from the wonderful “Asset Management” and “Emergency Preparedness” presentations given by Art Astarita during our Management Candidate School.  His practical approach resonates well with this audience.  Art and Rebecca Reynolds have also been great in their willingness to travel to less populated areas like Calais, Rockland and Presque Isle, Maine.

In early 2015, drinking water and waste water operators in Calais and Fairfield also benefited from the “Math Basics” workshops provided by Mia McDonald.  It is tough to positively engage operators in a math training program. However, the students in Mia’s two classes had many favorable comments such as: “Instructor was great! She explained herself well… Will help obtain my Grade III License… Will use this math to help with future problem solving… Dosing pumps and chlorine demand and the formulas will be helpful”.

It is so important that RCAP Solutions takes such high caliber training to the less populated communities in the far reaches of Maine.  Such training saves the operators in both the cost of travel and also in the cost of time away from their facilities.

As the Training Coordinator for JETCC, I also work closely with the certification officers for Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). I am always confident that the RCAP training we offer will be welcome by those agencies and recommended for the operators.

Thank you for sharing your resources with Maine’s Water Pollution Control Personnel!

Sincerely,

Leeann Hanson, Training Coordinator
Joint Environmental Training Coordinating Committee
Scarborough, Maine