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.

RCAP Secures USDA Disaster Relief Funding to Restore Small Communities

The Rural Community Assistance Partnership, Inc. (RCAP) has received $500,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development’s Water and Environmental Programs to provide training and technical assistance, onsite repairs, and utility management advice for rural water and wastewater utilities impacted by the 2017 hurricane season. RCAP has been on the ground providing technical assistance to rural communities affected by hurricanes since the storms hit, and this funding will allow the RCAP network to expand that work.

“Ensuring safe drinking water has proven to be a critical first step in rebuilding the small Texas communities ravaged by Hurricane Harvey at the end of August 2017,” explained Ines Polonius, CEO of Communities Unlimited. “Once critical community backbone infrastructure — a town’s water and waste water systems — is back in place and functioning properly, families can begin to rebuild their lives in the place they call home.”

With this funding, RCAP will assist rural communities, borrowers, and small water systems in Texas, the Southeast US, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands in their recovery from the recent hurricanes. RCAP regional partners including the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project (SERCAP), Communities Unlimited (CU), and RCAP Solutions will assist small utilities to complete damage assessments and disaster technical assistance work plans, apply for Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) disaster programs, file insurance recovery claims, and update existing Security Vulnerability Assessments and Emergency Response plans.

“Our work in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands is in higher demand than ever before.” says Karen A. Koller, CAE, President and CEO of RCAP Solutions. “The increased funding provided by the disaster recovery grants will allow RCAP Solutions to provide additional vital technical assistance and services to those in desperate need of safe, clean drinking water as we assist in the rebirth of those communities.”

Rural communities of 10,000 or less impacted by natural disasters are often the last to get assistance. This grant will provide RCAP the opportunity to provide long-term technical assistance to communities in need of basic capacity building expertise in immediate response to the hurricanes that impacted their communities.

“The funds awarded to the SERCAP region for disaster recovery will assist our communities impacted by the devastating 2017 hurricane season,” said Hope F Cupit, CPA, President & CEO of SERCAP. “SERCAP is committed to rebuilding small communities in Florida during the long-term period of recovery.”

 

Rural Community Assistance Partnership is a national network of six regional non-profit organizations working to ensure that rural and small communities throughout the country have access to safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater disposal. The RCAP network provides a variety of programs to accomplish this goal, including direct training and on the ground technical assistance. For more information, visit www.rcap.org.

 

USDA Rural Development Celebrates Earth Day by Supporting Water Quality Projects in 40 States and Puerto Rico

 

Of the USDA projects announced in the following release, RCAP Solutions provided technical assistance on 9 projects in CT, ME, MA, NY, and RI that were awarded funding over the past several years.  This resulted in $34,640,000  in USDA Loans and $59,111,872  in RD and Farm Bill grants for a total of $93,751,872 to small communities for water and wastewater system improvements.  

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WASHINGTON, April 22, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today celebrated Earth Day by announcing record support for 116 projects that will improve water and wastewater services for rural Americans and benefit the environment.

“Having reliable, clean and safe water is essential for any community to thrive and grow,” Vilsack said. “I am proud that USDA helps build rural communities from the ground up by supporting water infrastructure projects like these. I am especially proud that we can help communities that are struggling economically and those that have urgent health and safety concerns due to their failing water systems.”

Today’s announcement is USDA’s largest Earth Day investment in rural water and wastewater systems. Nearly $387 million is being awarded to 116 recipients in 40 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The Department is providing $150 million in grants through the 2014 Farm Bill plus $237 million in loans and grants from USDA’s Water and Environmental Program.

Also noteworthy this year are USDA’s accomplishments to help communities with the greatest needs. Sixteen of the Earth Day projects are in areas of persistent poverty. Twenty-nine are in communities served by USDA’s ” StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity.” StrikeForce is a USDA initiative to reduce poverty by increasing investments in rural communities through intensive outreach and stronger partnerships with community leaders, businesses, foundations and other groups that are working to combat poverty.

Climate change in particular is putting more stress on municipal water systems. Many areas around the country have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts, declines in snowpack, intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. All of these are placing fiscal strains on communities – causing them to make more frequent (and often more expensive) repairs and upgrades.

Among projects funded this year, the city of McCrory, Ark., is receiving $2.1 million to build a water treatment facility and two water supply wells, and refurbish its two water storage tanks. The improvements will reduce high manganese and iron levels in the water supply to provide safe drinking water to McCrory’s nearly 800 residents. McCrory is in Woodruff County, a persistent poverty area that is part of USDA’s “StrikeForce initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity.”

Paintsville, Ky., is receiving a $4.9 million loan and $2.1 million grant to rehabilitate its sanitary and stormwater sewer systems. This is one of 10 projects funded by USDA that will improve water infrastructure in rural areas of Kentucky. The Paintsville project will serve nearly 2,300 residents and businesses and protect the ecosystems of Paint Creek and nearby lakes.

The city of San Joaquin, Calif., is receiving a $1 million loan/grant combination to replace a contaminated well. The city had to shut down one of its three wells due to high levels of bacteria. Once completed, this project will ensure San Joaquin residents have safe, clean drinking water.

In Ohio, the Erie County Commissioners will use $3 million in loans and nearly $3 million in grants to replace individual on-site waste treatment systems that discharge into and pollute the Sandusky Bay and surrounding areas. The commissioners also will build a wastewater collection system for the Village of Bay View and the neighboring Bay Bridge area. The Bay View peninsula is a vital ecological and economic area in the Western Basin of Lake Erie.

Earth Day is observed annually on April 22 to raise awareness about the role each person can play to protect vital natural resources and safeguard the environment. Since the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, the event has expanded to include citizens and governments in more than 195 countries.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.