The New Hampshire Drinking Water Festival is now live!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: March 23, 2021
CONTACT: Lara Hooper, (603) 271-4071
des.nh.gov
twitter.com/NHDES

Join us for the 2021 Virtual Drinking Water Festival!

Concord, NH – Over the past three decades, thousands of students have learned about protecting water at the New Hampshire Drinking Water Festival. This year the Festival is virtual and kicks off today! The 2021 Virtual Festival also includes the third annual Poetry Contest for third, fourth and fifth graders, making this a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, Math) educational opportunity.

The 2021 Virtual Festival is packed with over 40 videos and activities that connect with student’s daily lives and explore how to keep water clean. Major themes include the water cycle, watersheds, groundwater, wildlife, the human water cycle, Water Heroes (career fields) and the Poetry Contest. Engaging lessons range from calculating a personal water footprint to finding costly silent toilet leaks and learning how caddisflies stabilize streambeds against erosion. The online lessons and activities are designed for students in third through fifth grades, but with the timeless importance of clean water, students in other grades (and adults) can benefit from them as well. All materials are free and openly available. Students participating in the Poetry Contest should submit entries by April 30, 2021.

The Virtual Water Festival and Poetry Contest is now available at our new website www.nhwaterfestival.org. There, you will find the virtual lessons and also information about how your school can participate in the free in-person annual festival in May 2022.

As a member of the New Hampshire Drinking Water Coalition, RCAP Solutions is a proud partner of this event.

Photos courtesy of NHDES

Meet the RCAP Solutions Housing Experts

RCAP Solutions Launching “Housing Help” Webinar Series

This spring, RCAP Solutions will be hosting a 3-part Zoom webinar series for tenants, homeowners, landlords, and all other interested parties. Attendees will hear from the experts about our robust housing programs including; rental assistance, homelessness prevention, community development, and much more. Participants will have the ability to ask questions and the presentations will be available afterwards on our YouTube channel. There is no cost to attend these events.


Part 2: Webinar for Tenants & Homeowners

The second webinar, which will provide information for tenants & homeowners, will take place on Thursday, May 6, 2021 from 6:00 to 7:00 PM. To register, visit the link below.

REGISTER NOW!

Topics will include:

  • Housing Counseling & Financial Services: We’ll be discussing homelessness prevention counseling, homebuyer workshops, emergency rent/mortgage assistance, home modification loans, and other supportive services that our Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) provides.
  • Rental Assistance: We manage several voucher programs, which assist low-income renters by subsidizing a portion of their rent. In addition, there are special resources available for current voucher holders, including tools to find housing.
  • Property Management: We manage over 380 units of affordable senior, disabled, and family housing throughout Central Massachusetts. Combined with our unique resident services program, we provide our residents with support which enables them to live safely and independently.

For more information, download the flyer below. Any questions can be emailed to adrozd@rcapsolutions.org.


Save the Dates!

Dates for the remaining webinars are listed below. Stay tuned to our website for more information and follow #RCAPHousingHelp on social media.

  • Part 1: Webinar for Landlords & Property Owners: April 1 at 6:00 PM (view recording)
  • Part 2: Webinar for Tenants & Homeowners: May 6 at 6:00 PM (register here)
  • Part 3: Webinar for General Public: June 3 at 6:00 PM (register here)

Landlords, did you miss Part 1? Watch the recording below!

RCAP Solutions Is Here to Support Landlords and Tenants

RCAP Solutions Is Here to Support Landlords and Tenants

Given the unprecedented circumstances landlords are facing during the ongoing pandemic, RCAP Solutions wants to ensure that they and in turn, their tenants, feel supported during these times. We offer a wide variety of programs which assist income-eligible tenants with paying their rent. These programs, designed with both parties in mind, pay subsidies directly to the landlord.

Our flagship program, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, is currently seeking participants who have available units to lease. All landlords are encouraged to participate, including those currently renting to HCV tenants! By participating in the HCV Program, we can help you meet your financial goals as a property owner and provide families with a place they are proud to call home.


Why should you participate?

Many landlords participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program because payment is guaranteed. Landlords do not have to worry about late or missed payments for the voucher amount since it is paid directly from RCAP Solutions.

Some of the benefits of participating in this program include…

  • You will get timely and dependable payments from RCAP Solutions
  • You will get your full rental payment
  • You will receive regular inspections
  • You may request annual reasonable rent increases
  • You have the opportunity to help low-income, elderly, disabled, and veteran households, as well as families with children, by providing affordable housing

New/Prospective Landlords – How to Participate:

Becoming an RCAP Solutions landlord is simple! To become a landlord with the HCV Program, you will need an HCV tenant.

To get your property seen by HCV families, you can market your unit with us! We have partnered with GoSection8, which allows you to list your rental units online. Listings are available to potential Housing Choice Voucher families seeking housing in the private market. To list your available units with us, visit rcap.gosection8.com and select “List Your Property”.

If a voucher family requests to rent your property; conduct your usual screening, fill out and submit the request for tenancy approval (RFTA) – which the voucher family will have, and prepare the property for inspection. You and the voucher family will sign your lease and then you and RCAP Solutions will sign the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract.


Current Landlords – How to Participate:

Landlords who are currently renting to HCV tenants are also encouraged to list their available and upcoming units at rcap.gosection8.com. In addition, property owners should check out our webpage for a list of additional programs.


Need assistance with listing? We’re happy to list your available units on your behalf. Please download and complete the Property Listing Form by clicking here.

We have dedicated staff to help make the lease-up process as smooth as possible and to ensure inspections and move-ins take place in a timely manner. We will work with tenants in advance to ensure they understand the responsibilities of maintaining their homes and lease obligations. Our staff will continue to check in with families and property owners are welcome to reach out at any time.

We understand that times are difficult for both landlords and tenants. We hope you will consider participating in the Section 8 program and become a part of this important work, while at the same time meeting your financial goals. Our team has a long history of supporting both parties through our programs and services. If you have questions related to your rights/responsibilities as a landlord, we’re here to help.

For more information, visit www.rcapsolutions.org/landlord-services/, or contact us at RentalAssistance@rcapsolutions.org or by phone, 978-630-6602.

And for the latest updates, follow #ListAndLease and #RCAPHousingHelp on social media.

PS. Get ready to meet the experts! This spring we will be hosting an informational webinar for landlords and property owners. Stay tuned for more details!

The New Hampshire Drinking Water Festival Will Be Virtual in 2021

The New Hampshire Drinking Water Festival will be offered virtually in 2021!

The New Hampshire Drinking Water Festival has educated and inspired fourth-graders to conserve and protect our water resources for 27 years. To keep everyone safe, the 2021 festival is moving online. As an added benefit, to support teachers, students and parents, these free online resources will be available from March through July.

Major themes include the water cycle, watersheds, groundwater, wildlife and the human water cycle. Lessons connect with student’s daily lives and explore how they can keep water clean. The online lessons and activities are designed for students in grades 3-5, but with the timeless importance of clean water, students in other grades will also benefit from them. Student in grades 3-5 are invited to participate in this year’s Water Poetry Contest. This is a great opportunity to incorporate the language arts and water science.

As a member of the New Hampshire Drinking Water Coalition, RCAP Solutions is a proud partner of this event.

The Drinking Water Festival’s new website is currently under construction, but it can be found and bookmarked for the virtual event this spring at nhwaterfestival.org. If you would like to learn more, please contact Lara Hooper at lara.hooper@des.nh.gov.

Photos courtesy of NHDES

The New Hampshire Drinking Water Festival  is sponsored by the New Hampshire Drinking Water Coalition in conjunction with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to encourage future leaders and scientists to learn about one of the world’s most precious resources: water! 

Imagine a Day Without Water: Commit to a sustainable water future for all

This year, our country faced an enormous public health crisis from the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout this emergency, water and wastewater systems kept the water flowing in homes, hospitals, and essential businesses. This crisis demonstrated the critical role that water and wastewater systems play in their communities, protecting public health, safeguarding the environment, and making a healthy economy possible. It is easy to imagine how much worse the pandemic would have been without widespread access to water infrastructure. Without reliable drinking water and sanitation, Americans would be unable to stay safe and limit the spread. In communities with inadequate water and wastewater infrastructure, the public health consequences have been dire.

Today, we Imagine a Day Without Water. It’s a day to pause and notice the way that water systems impact our lives and communities, and commit to ensuring a sustainable water future for generations to come. What would your day be like if you couldn’t turn on the tap and get clean drinking water, or if you flushed the toilet and wastewater didn’t go anywhere? What would happen to restaurants, hospitals, firefighters, farms, breweries, or the hundreds of industries that depend on water?

Millions of Americans take water service for granted every day. Turn on the tap, and clean water flows out. Flush the toilet, and dirty water goes away. Washing our hands regularly is one of the most important steps to take to limit the spread of coronavirus, and we usually don’t stop to think about the impressive infrastructure and treatment required to make sure the water comes out when you open the tap, or safely returns water to the environment from your sink. But the truth is, our water and wastewater systems are getting older – some were installed a century ago – and everyone should be concerned with the vulnerability of those systems.

While we continue to enjoy high quality and reliable water service now, maintaining that level of service is going to be harder and harder as America’s water infrastructure continues to deteriorate. Meanwhile, new threats from record rainfalls, flooding, toxic algae, drought and wildfires threaten our critical water systems. There are even communities, especially in many rural places across the country, that have never had access to infrastructure in the first place.

As we look at ways to help lift our economy out of the recession, investing in water infrastructure is a winning solution. Investing in water creates cascading economic benefits, strengthening American competitiveness, raising GDP, creating jobs and increasing wages. Investing in water provides a path to economic recovery. Imagine a Day Without Water is an opportunity for everyone to get educated about our local water systems and raise awareness with our elected leaders. We need leadership at every level to work together to ensure a reliable water future for generations to come. Investing in water is investing in a future where no American will have to imagine a day without water.

Eviction and Foreclosure Moratorium Ending October 17

As the eviction and foreclosure moratorium in Massachusetts comes to an end this Saturday, October 17th, we want to ensure that tenants and homeowners know their rights as well as the resources available to them to assist with rent and mortgage payments.

If you are struggling with rent or mortgage payments because of COVID-19, there are eviction protections and financial programs available to help.

RCAP Solutions offers Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA): Funding for Worcester county households impacted by the Coronavirus crisis and state of emergency. The ERMA program is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development and provides up to $10,000 of direct funding to eligible households.

Other Funds available include Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT): A program funded by MA Department of Housing and Community Development that can provide eligible families in our service area with financial assistance to help prevent homelessness..  For more information, please call our RAFT/ERMA support line at 978.630.6771, email HCEC@rcapsolutions.org, or click here. To apply online, please click here.

If you are not located in Worcester County, visit: mahousinghelp.com

More info on resources here: 

Door Hangers for COVID-19 Prevention

This spring, approximately 20,000 door hangers were distributed throughout central Massachusetts, with information in English and Spanish on COVID-19 prevention and symptoms, as part of a public health initiative funded by the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts (HFCM).

RCAP Solutions had recently been awarded a five-year Synergy Grant from HFCM, which was just getting off the ground with a focus on private well health in the north central MA area. When COVID-19 hit, the HFCM board reached to identify additional ways they could help with the pandemic response. As a result, supplemental funding of $8,000 was provided to RCAP Solutions to help mitigate the impact of the current coronavirus public health crisis. The funds were intended to enable RCAP to provide communications support to local boards of health in the project’s service area and help strengthen relationships with BOH’s and facilitate the project moving forward with private well testing and regulation in the future.

With a goal of education, RCAP Solutions and north central Boards of Health quickly identified communications to elderly residents through a door hanger to be the best tool to promote public health and safety throughout the community. RCAP partnered with The Wachusett Medical Reserve Corps (WMRC), a local network of public health, medical, safety and other ancillary volunteers organized to improve the health and safety of their communities, who helped to identify what information would be most useful and coordinated the door hanger distribution. A team of roughly 10 volunteers crisscrossed the state from Winchendon to Webster, delivering the hangers to boards of health and housing authorities, schools and summer meal programs, libraries, take out restaurants, community and senior centers, police stations, and homeless shelters. The hangers were also provided to RCAP’s ten senior, disabled and family properties.

“This fits in with our mission to build safe, healthy and prepared communities,” stated Judie O’Donnell, RN MPH, WMRC Director. “I’m a firm believer in public education and promoting good health practices. Information about health has to be simplified and for many it’s not easy to understand. We’re trying to combat health illiteracy, it’s so important to get the word out to as many people as possible. There are so many who have language barriers, it’s important to have images that help to show the message. Door hangers work because people get nervous in difficult situations and this is a quick and creative way for people to know what to do in an emergency. There is a lot of misinformation out there. People need to know when to call 911, and not wait until it’s too late.”

The response to the door hangers has been very positive. “Resident coordinators and property managers were very receptive and were happy to have something to hand out,” said O’Donnell. “Residents were very appreciative and liked that it’s something they can leave on the door and have as a daily reminder.”

 

Virtual Math Training

Rebekah Novak, Water Compliance Specialist for Massachusetts, Online Tech Team Lead

Since COVID-19 hit in the early months of 2020, almost all businesses, schools, and government departments were impacted in a very big way; we could not meet face to face anymore. Every business was affected differently. But the show had to go on for essential workers like highway and construction workers, medical field staff, food industry, drinking water operations and wastewater operations. For many of these fields, people must earn contact hours/credits/education credits for the license they hold by taking classes to stay educated and informed. But with the limitations on in-person meetings, and how many people are allowed in a room, how are these license holders supposed to get the training they need to maintain their licenses? A little leeway was given for those people who had to renew their drivers license, but are Wastewater Operators allowed to to lapse in credits? No. License holders waited to see if they would be given extensions on earning credits but decision makers did not loosen up on the rules. Every person with a Wastewater License in the State of Massachusetts still had to earn 20 Total Contact Hours (TCHs) by the same deadline as before COVID.

For the first few months of the “lock-down” people just figured they had a whole year ahead of them to earn credits, but as the months passed, the clock kept counting down, yet the states did not open up. Luckily, some organizations adapted and learned a new platform: virtual training. RCAP Solutions was one of those organizations that jumped right into virtual training as soon as they saw there was no end it sight to the shutdowns. Wanting to keep their staff members as well as the public safe at home or in the office, RCAP Solutions decided if they couldn’t bring people to their training, they would bring their training to the people, virtually.
Once the virtual platform was learned, the PowerPoint presentations were then altered to a friendlier format for virtual learning. The first session to go online was Basic Math for Operators. This course is intended to help both existing operators brush up on their math skills, (while earning credits) but also to help future operators prepare to pass the exam, by learning about the basic math concepts that are applied every day on the job (and it the exam).

Teaching Math in person is not all that easy but teaching it virtually made for some additional difficulties. RCAP does not typically use webcams because most clients/attendees do not have a strong internet connection and the webcams use too much bandwidth. So how do you know if your attendees are understanding the concepts you are teaching without being able to SEE them? There are several tools to use to make sure the attendees are paying attention and keeping up with you on the other side of that computer screen:

1. PowerPoint/Presentation visuals:
a. use more animation than in person slides to make the slides more interesting. The attendees have little else to look at and many distractions within an arm’s reach.
b. Use less words on each slide. Too much reading on a computer screen is tiresome, so add more pictures to convey the ideas that are discussed.

2. Virtual Interactive tools:
a. Polls: gather information or beliefs about attendees. ASK how the pace of the class is, or if they understand the topic at hand.
b. Tests: quiz attendees on covered topics to keep them engaged, and to get an idea of how well they understand that topic.
c. Virtual hand raising: ask yes/no questions or invite attendees to ask questions
d. Virtual group work: create a sense of community and work together to complete an activity
e. Chat box: ask attendees to answer your questions in the chat box. Ask them to ask questions of their own in the chat box. Get people comfortable with the chat box right away, ask icebreaker questions to get them warmed up to it.
f. Evaluation: break your evaluations down by topic, so they can be rated individually. Ask attendees to rate the platform, or each of the tools separately to see how effective they were. Ask for suggestions to make the training session better.

3. Voice:
a. Inflection: Work on your presentation voice. Try to use inflections, making your voice pitch go up and down to signify important words, grammar, or the end of sentences. Monotone voices are hard to listen to for long periods of time.
b. Quality: Be sure the quality of your audio is good. Use a headset or a microphone so your audience only hears your voice. Tinny or muffled voices are hard to understand.

4. Technical assistance: One of the most important tools to have ready is technical assistance. Some people run into issues and if they have never used online training before, they will need some help to navigate, or else, they will most likely give up and sign off. Have an extra person or two who can help individuals solve their technical issues, like connecting to audio in the beginning of a training.
Are you a License holder looking for more virtual training? Sign up for the email lists of your local associations or memberships. Express your interest in learning about a certain topic to a virtual trainer that puts on multiple sessions a year.

Are you a committee member/government official/association looking to present topics to a certain audience but do not have a way to do so? Talk to someone who recently put on a training to see if they will host your topics. Or see if they know of others who simply “host” presentations on their platform license.

Virtual trainings and presentations can be intimidating, but with the right tools and a little preparation, they can be as effective as a face to face meeting. As an added bonus, they are incredibly attractive for busy people, cut down on travel time and expenses, and promote safe learning and communications during this challenging time.

Case Study: Midland Water and Sewer Authority, PA

By Wanda Rios Martinez, Water Compliance Specialist

Midland is a small town located in Beaver County, PA. The town has their own water and sewer treatment plants. Midland Water Authority stared operations in 1907. Midland mill began operating as a stainless-steel facility the following year. The mill closed in 2016. Today the Authority services Midland Borough, Shippingport Borough and small industries with water and sewer.

The Need and RCAP’s Assistance:
Midland Borough is having financial issues. Since the mill closed operations the plant is oversized in relation to the amount of water it treats. There is concern about depreciation and state of deterioration on the part of Midland Water and Sewer. The borough needs to replace all the electrical wires/panels and bar screen. Also, they wanted to close some dead ends in the distribution system to improve the quality of the water. The maps were very old and hard to read and understand.

RCAP assisted enrolling Midland in the RD Apply system, followed the application process, and provided long distance assistance to the borough. In addition, RCAP provided GIS mapping for the distribution system. Since the borough is going to make updates at the water system and the supervisor is retiring in less than a year it was very important that the system have updated maps. Such maps include a booster of a new section of the distribution system, pump stations and Shippingport line. RCAP was able to verify and confirm the locations of the assets with the operator.

Results:
Midland Water Authority received assistance with USDA application, which should increase the financial and managerial capacity. The borough has new and accurate maps with information about hydrants, hydrants valves, booster house, water feed stations and water valves in the main line. Clear pictures tell a better story of the system status.

See full case study here: Midland Water and Sewer PA

Case Study: Lee Oak Cooperative – Barrington, NH

By Martin Mistretta, Water Compliance Specialist for New Hampshire

The Need for RCAP’s Assistance:

Lee Oak’s water system relies on an old system with several design issues that might compromise operability and water quality. Features include the proximity of the dug well to an active leach field, a very small underground pump house that prohibits adequate maintenance, and a 47-year-old hydro-pneumatic tank with extensive rust. Additionally, leaks in the distribution system are difficult to locate due to very porous soil of the site. These are all significant deficiencies identified by NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) that pose a risk to public health and safety.

The project engineer estimated the total project cost, which requires extensive infrastructure replacement from source to distribution, to be approximately $1,800,000. Too costly for a small, low income community. NHDES asked RCAP Solutions to help Lee Oak with funding options and assistance applications.

Results:
Initially, RCAP completed an income survey essential to determine funding eligibility and submitted an SRF loan pre-application. NHDES selected the project as the top priority among all applications state-wide, resulting with the approval of a $1,000,000 SRF loan, expected to be awarded in the spring of 2020. RCAP then submitted a Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund (DWGTF) grant pre-application which might be eligible for $435,000 grant. RCAP coordinated enlisting an engineering firm and a grant administrator to assist with the final applications.

RCAP also helped Lee Oak apply for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), expected to be awarded in 2020, provided on-site training to board members, and helped them complete its Emergency Plan and Vulnerability Assessment. It is expected that the leveraged funding if awarded will cover then entire cost of the project.

See full case study here: Lee Oak NH