RCAP Solutions Supports Wastewater and Drinking Water Efforts in the Broad Top Region of Pennsylvania for Over 30 Years

Author: Sukhwindar Singh, Pennsylvania State Manager

Broad Top Township is located in rural northern Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Much of the township has a rugged topography, befitting its site in the Appalachian Mountains. It has a current population (2020 estimate) of about 1500. For many decades, the area thrived on the coal mining industry (with mining on the “Broad Top”), which still exists in limited form today. The Township is now primarily a bedroom community for larger, local municipalities, and has a high percentage of retirees. It is also the site of a regional landfill serving multiple counties.

The on-lot disposal of wastewater is difficult throughout the mountainous regions of Pennsylvania. Severe slopes and thin soils limit the options for traditional on-lot treatment. Prior to current environmental regulations, it was common for wastewater to be discharged directly to local streams, with no management. This was the situation faced by the Broad Top Township supervisors in the 1980s

Late in the decade, the Township took a bold and innovative approach to solving its problems with on-lot sewage treatment. Working in partnership with RCAP Solutions Technical Assistance Providers, the Township began to prepare an official planning document (Act 537 Plan) to address sewage planning on a township-wide basis. The final Plan had features that were- and perhaps still are – unique in the Commonwealth, even after 30 years. The central theme was that residents who became connected to conventional treatment facilities, along with those who allowed the Township to own and operate on-lot systems on private properties, would all be charged an equal monthly “sewage bill.” After receiving significant grant funding at the federal level, the township-wide system began operation in the 1990s. The initial monthly fee of $10 has slowly increased to only $22/month. There are currently 27 small flow treatment facilities and 49 sand mounds serving 97 residences along with a larger centralized wastewater facility.

RCAP Solutions has continued its involvement in the Township since it began nearly 35 years ago. Beginning in 1991, significant technical assistance was provided to the Defiance Water Company, which serves residents in the unincorporated village of Defiance. Similar assistance was provided for decades to the Coaldale Area Water Company, which has a customer base in the Borough of Coaldale as well as the Township.

The Township’s efforts to successfully manage wastewater treatment have been substantial and it has numerous physical assets. The need for an accurate system map became apparent by 2020. RCAP is now providing GIS mapping of the wastewater system, which wll be completed in 2022. It is expected that the mapping will include over 1100 discrete data points. The GIS data will be made available to the Bedford County Planning Commission, where it can be stored for future updates and modifications.

BroadTop Supervisor Donald Hedge being filmed by HHS film crew

More recently, the Broad Top Township Board of Supervisors have been interviewed by a Health and Human Services (HHS) film crew to tell the story of the region. We will be excited to share the video when it is released.

According to the County Planning Director, Donald Schwartz, “We value the partnership that has been forged between Bedford County and RCAP. The relationship goes back for more than three decades, and RCAP has always been there for us, in numerous municipalities. Our rural townships and boroughs appreciate everything that RCAP has done to keep their drinking water and wastewater systems safe and financially viable. I can’t think of a better investment of federal tax dollars in our county.”

This article is dedicated to the early leaders in Broad Top Township who forged ahead with a bold wastewater plan- Jack Decker, Bernard Hoffnar, Ernest Fuller, Dave Thomas, and Donald Hedge and all of the men and women who have served the Broad Top region. Thank you for your efforts to clean and improve the water and land of Broad Top! To all the current staff of Broad Top Township, thank you for your considerable efforts to introduce senior housing to the area, to solve AMD (Abandoned Mine Drainage) issues and to extend utility services to neighboring communities.

Planning, Persistence, Patience, and Teamwork is Rewarded!

CASE STUDY

Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, Tribal Lands held in Trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Total Population Served: 244
Maine’s 2nd Congressional District
RCAP Solutions, Inc. funded by USDA Tribal Tech Program to provide facilities development services including:
• Securing an engineer
• Siting issues
• Funding applications
• Facilitating public meetings

BACKGROUND

The Houlton Water Company’s two pump stations that serve the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians need to be upgraded. Approximately twenty new connections have been added to the system — which is taxing the current design capacity. The lift station pumps have been failing before the expected end of life. Overflows at the lift stations have been documented as a public health hazard. These failures are also creating an increase in operational costs to maintain the system. Houlton Water Company and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians needed to secure an engineer and develop a funding mechanism plan to upgrade the system to eliminate overflow events and increase capacity for the rising population on the reservation.

THE CHALLENGE
There were many nuanced challenges to overcome to be able to apply and access project funding. The first major hurdle was that Houlton Water Company owns all sewer system components that service the tribal land which led to the concern that it may be necessary to transfer ownership to the Houlton Band of Maliseet in order to access set aside funds for Native Americans. The next challenge was to verify that the project was going to alleviate a public health hazard. Extensive documentation was needed to show the impact of overflow events to the tribe. Lastly, the project needed to be structured so that federal funding was not intertwined and it lined up appropriately to enable a full funding package.

“I am very glad that the RCAP Program is present and available to provide this technical assistance free of charge. The program has already made a big impact and we all look forward to many years of involvement with RCAP and service to the Maine Tribes.”
CDR Kenneth J. Grant, PE, Bangor Field Office, Nashville Area, Indian Health Service

THE APPROACH & SOLUTION
Although both Houlton Water Company and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians were willing to return ownership of the sewer components back to the tribe if necessary, RCAP advocated for the wastewater infrastructure to remain under Houlton Water Company’s ownership. The relationship between the two entities was very cooperative and the system was well-managed under the current structure. Changing ownership would only be an undue burden. The funding agencies all agreed.

Sufficient documentation and explanation of the events, as well as action taken by Houlton Water Company regarding overflow of untreated wastewater, was then provided to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The DEP formally concurred with the concern that the pump stations needed upgrades to protect the environment and public health of this area. This confirmation was a vital part to be able to access Indian Setback funds from both Indian Health Services and USDA.

RCAP then prepared a request for proposals to retain engineering services. Once the engineer was on board, RCAP coordinated a kick-off meeting to begin the design phase of the project. After the preliminary engineering report (PER) and environmental review were finalized and approved, RCAP stepped back into the mix to help finalize the USDA loan application and public meetings. Indian Health Service (IHS) utilized the PER to aid in their attempt to secure IHS funding for a related but separate project, which primarily dealt operation and maintenance element of the designed product. Finally, the project team applied to the DEP Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF).

THE IMPACT
The project was initially waitlisted for CWSRF but, in August of 2021, thanks to the availability of funds through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), the project was awarded with $1M of American Recovery Grant Funds. In February of 2022, USDA reached out to the project group with the exciting news that the project was approved for $1.1M in Indian Set Aside Funds. It is believed that the project is well positioned to be able to access funds from the EPA Clean Water Act (Tribal Set-Aside) totaling $977K for FY 2022. In total, the project is anticipated to receive $3.057M in grant funds to ensure that the public health hazard is eliminated for the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians.

RCAP’s involvement in this project has been over two years in development. Through planning, persistence, patience and teamwork, this project group was able to overcome many obstacles to be awarded the best outcome possible for Houlton Water Company and the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians lift station project. The project team anticipates being able to complete construction in 2022.

RCAP Solutions is Providing Water Auditing and Leakage Management Assistance to Water Utilities in the Centre County, PA Region

We are pleased to reach out and share the news that RCAP Solutions is partnering with Cavanaugh & Associates, P.A. and Kunkel Water Efficiency Consulting to provide technical assistance and training to water utilities in the Bald Eagle Creek Watershed area of Centre County, Pennsylvania on water auditing and leakage management. Utilities will learn best practice methods for compiling an annual water audit and water loss control techniques, helping them conserve large volumes of water, and enabling them to be more financially resilient and environmentally sustainable. This program is made possible thanks to generous funding from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission.

Water utilities in the Bald Eagle Creek Watershed and adjacent areas are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. Because the Bald Eagle Creek Watershed in Centre County is a designated priority watershed and potentially water stressed area, conservation efforts play an important role in environmental sustainability. RCAP Solutions and its technical assistance partners will be offering services based on the American Water Works Association (AWWA)’s best practice and water auditing and leakage management methods.

The services being offered include:

  • AWWA Water Audit Training: We will be hosting a 2-day in-person training during the Spring of 2023. This training will be open to all utilities in Centre County, Pennsylvania and nearby communities and will provide education on the AWWA Free Water Audit Software and advanced leakage management methods. It is intended that the training will qualify for continuing education hours for certified water system operators under the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP). There is no cost to the water utility to attend this event. Additional information regarding this event will be announced soon. It is expected that the training will be repeated later in 2023 and 2024.
  • Water Audit Validation & Operational Assessments: For select utilities, we will be conducting a detailed evaluation of their water audit (known as a water audit validation), including inspection and evaluation of production flowmeters and supply data, leak and main break data, pressure management practices, customer metering and billing practices, review of the costs of water production and operations, and development of recommendations for improvements in measuring water withdrawals, water auditing, and leakage management. For most water utilities this service will be at no cost.
  • Implement Advanced Leakage Management: For select utilities, we will provide engineering guidance and direction to install equipment (funded by our grant from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission) to establish advanced leakage controls, which may include installation of one or more District Metered Areas (DMA), advanced pressure management, leak noise logging/correlation, and other techniques. Participating utilities may be requested to make a modest in-kind funding contribution to participate at this level of the program.

Nationwide, an estimated six billion gallons of water per day is taken from water sources but never reaches the customer; this is enough water to supply the drinking water needs of the ten largest cities in the United States. Water loss also results in revenue loss for many utilities.

Through this initiative, RCAP Solutions and its partners aim to advance the knowledge and skills of utilities in regard to water loss control techniques, help them to conserve water, and to improve their financial resiliency and environmental sustainability.

If your utility is interested in participating in this program or would like further information, please contact Sukhwindar Singh, Pennsylvania State Manager, via email: ssingh@rcapsolutions.org or phone: (412) 554-2572

Featured Career Opportunity: Apartment Maintenance Technician

Multiple Openings – Apply Today!

Our affordable housing apartments for seniors, families, and individuals with disabilities/mobility impairments would not function successfully if it weren’t for our awesome maintenance team! And guess what? Our team is growing!

RCAP Solutions is hiring several maintenance technicians to staff our apartment complexes across Central Massachusetts! We have openings at our Groton, Hubbardston, and Worcester locations.

You can be part of this hardworking, collaborative team who use their skills to help our residents – and each other – in making these apartments feel like home.

We offer an outstanding benefits package; including 14 paid holidays, free life insurance, and more! Interested candidates should submit their resume and cover letter to HR@rcapsolutions.org.

Maintenance Technician Position Description

Senior Maintenance Technician Position Description

RCAP Solutions has earned a 2022 Gold Seal of Transparency with Candid

We have earned a 2022 Gold Seal of Transparency with Candid! Learn more about our organization through our nonprofit profile, here.

By sharing our impact, strategies, and financials, we aim to be transparent about our efforts to support the power and potential of communities.

Brian D. Scales Named Permanent President & CEO of RCAP Solutions

The RCAP Solutions Board of Directors is pleased to announce the permanent appointment of Brian D. Scales as President & CEO of the organization. This position will go into effect on July 1, 2022.

Mr. Scales was named Interim President & CEO in March of this year, assuming all responsibilities upon the retirement announcement of Karen A. Koller, CAE, after 21 years of service.

“We are very excited to formally announce Brian D. Scales as President & CEO of RCAP Solutions,” stated Laura McGee, Chair of the RCAP Solutions Board of Directors. “Brian is a trusted leader who has played an integral role in the organization’s leadership and strategic direction during his 14 years with the organization. We are confident in his ability to ensure the highest level of support is delivered to our constituents. In addition to Brian’s achievements, he embodies the organization’s vision of a world made up of strong and resilient communities and individuals and has the flexibility to meet the ever-evolving needs and objectives of the broader community. The Board and I are confident that Brian is the right choice to lead RCAP into its next chapter.”

Mr. Scales joined RCAP Solutions in 2008 with a diverse background in nonprofit development and strategic planning. He has gained extensive experience in all aspects of program management and development and has built strong relationships with the organization’s diverse funders, partners, and state and federal legislators. Mr. Scales has a distinctive understanding of the varied community and economic development challenges, making him uniquely qualified for the position of President & CEO.

“This is a pivotal time for RCAP Solutions as we emerge from the pandemic, preparing for new opportunities with a continued focus on our constituents,” stated Brian D. Scales, President & CEO. “Our dedicated staff has adjusted to unprecedented change and worked tirelessly to support underserved communities in the past two years. I recognize and applaud their demanding work and focus on reconnecting and supporting our team to be even stronger stewards of our mission. As we look to the future of this organization, we emphasize strategic planning and expanding our Board of Directors as the organization continues to grow in the coming years. I am honored that the Board has placed their trust in me to lead us in exciting new directions and do not take this responsibility lightly.”

Mr. Scales received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Florida Atlantic University and a Master of Arts from the University of Central Florida. He has also served on multiple regional nonprofit boards as a director and advisory board member.

RCAP Solutions is the Northeast affiliate of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP, Inc.), a national network of nonprofit partners with over 300 technical assistance providers across the country. RCAP works to improve the quality of life in rural America starting at the tap. RCAP Solutions provides services in all six New England states, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. RCAP Solutions is also the Worcester County affiliate of The Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, which delivers progressive, affordable housing solutions and education to families and individuals in every community throughout the state.

RCAP Solutions services approximately a half million people each year with a wide array of environmental, housing, economic development, and education and training programs.

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 (as Rural Housing Improvement), RCAP Solutions has supported the power and potential of communities for over half a century as strategists of community-wide well-being. Our 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.

Rockdale House Accepting Applications for Studio & One-Bedroom Apartments

A Place You Can Call Home!

Rockdale House Apartments, one of our Affordable Senior/Accessible Housing properties located in Northbridge, Massachusetts, is now accepting applications for studio and one-bedroom apartments!

Head of household must be 62 or older, OR mobility impaired. Residents must be income-eligible.

For more information, contact management at: 508-234-9263 or RockdaleHouse@rcapsolutions.org

Click Here for Rockdale House Apartments Application

Susquehanna River Basin Commission Awards RCAP Solutions $454,522 for Water Loss Prevention and Assistance

RCAP Solutions is pleased to have been awarded a $454,522 grant from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission!

This funding will be used to provide technical assistance and training to small water utilities in Centre County, Pennsylvania on water auditing and leakage prevention. Utilities will learn water loss techniques, helping them conserve large volumes of water, enabling them to be more financially resilient and environmentally sustainable.

Check out the full press release here.

RCAP Solutions’ 2021 Impact Report is here!

RCAP Solutions’ 2021 Impact Report is here!

Last year was a challenging time for RCAP Solutions. Like so many other non-profit organizations, we continued to see the numerous impacts of the ongoing global pandemic in underserved populations, and we resolved to face these difficulties head-on. View our 2021 Impact Report to learn more about last year’s accomplishments and read stories from the people we serve!

We thank our partners and continued supporters and invite you to join us as we engage our communities in the realization of a collective vision, creating and implementing a plan to guide them to self-actualized and sustained success.

We look forward to a productive 2022 as we remain steadfast in our commitment to fulfilling 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.

RCAP Solutions Appoints Brian D. Scales as Interim President & CEO

Brian Scales, Interim President & CEO

Brian D. Scales

The RCAP Solutions Board of Directors is pleased to announce the promotion of Brian D. Scales as Interim President & CEO of the organization. As previous Executive Vice President and proven leader within the organization, Mr. Scales succeeds Karen A. Koller, CAE, and assumes responsibilities on March 16, 2022. Ms. Koller is retiring from the organization after 21 years of service for health reasons, effective immediately.

“On behalf of the board, we are extremely grateful to Karen for her arduous work and dedication to RCAP Solutions over the past 21 years and we wish her the best on her retirement,” stated Laura McGee, Chair of the RCAP Solutions Board of Directors. “We are extremely excited to promote Brian to the role of Interim President & CEO of the organization. With his 14 years of service to RCAP Solutions and his strong experience within the organization, we are confident this transition will be a smooth one. We are looking forward to watching RCAP Solutions continue to grow under Brian’s leadership.”

Mr. Scales joined RCAP Solutions in 2008 with a diverse background in nonprofit development and strategic planning. During his 14 years with RCAP Solutions, he has gained extensive experience working in all aspects of program management and development and has built strong relationships with the organization’s diverse funders, partners and state and federal legislators. Mr. Scales has a distinctive understanding of the varied community and economic development challenges, making him uniquely qualified for his promotion to Interim President & CEO.

Mr. Scales received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Florida Atlantic University and a Master of Arts from University of Central Florida. He has also served on multiple nonprofit boards in the region as director and advisory board member.

“I am thrilled to see Brian named as Interim President & CEO of RCAP Solutions,” stated Keith Ashby, Interim CEO of RCAP, Inc. “Brian has accomplished remarkable things in his many years at the organization and has become an outstanding leader within the national RCAP network. His understanding of rural community needs, paired with his extensive legislative work, and vast program and development experience makes him the ideal person to succeed Ms. Koller. I am confident that Brian will build upon the tremendous work that Karen has achieved in her 21 years as a resolute champion in supporting the needs of small communities and positively impacting underserved populations.”

RCAP Solutions is the Northeast affiliate of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP, Inc.), a national network of nonprofit partners with over 300 technical assistance providers across the country. RCAP works to improve the quality of life in rural America starting at the tap. RCAP Solutions provides services in all six New England states, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. RCAP Solutions is also the Worcester County affiliate of The Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, which delivers progressive, affordable housing solutions and education to families and individuals in every community throughout the state.

RCAP Solutions services approximately a half million people each year with a wide array of environmental, housing, economic development, and education and training programs.

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 (as Rural Housing Improvement), RCAP Solutions has supported the power and potential of communities for over half a century as strategists of community-wide well-being. Our 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.

Contact: Maegen McCaffrey, Chief Communications Officer, (978) 630-6714, mmccaffrey@rcapsolutions.org