Private Well Program Addresses Well Issues in North Central MA

RCAP SOLUTIONS LAUNCHING PRIVATE WELL PROGRAM TO ADDRESS WELL ISSUES & CONTAMINATION IN NORTH CENTRAL MASSACHUSETTS

 

Worcester, MA – RCAP Solutions is launching the North Central Massachusetts Private Well Program to address drinking water issues in the Northern Central Massachusetts area. The program will include complimentary assessments and testing to identify contamination, provide public education, and work with local Boards of Health and other partners to promote better public health and safety for households with private wells through local and statewide regulations.

RCAP Solutions is seeking local homeowners with private wells who are interested in learning more about the quality of their water and the condition of their wells. Unlike public drinking water systems, private wells do not have experts regularly checking the water’s source and its quality before it is sent to the tap. Households that use private wells should take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of their drinking water. Potential contaminants such as arsenic, radon, and uranium can have both short and long-term health impacts.

The RCAP staff will provide qualifying homeowners in the north central Massachusetts area with a free, on-site professional review of their well head and recharge area. The staff will adhere to strict social distancing practices to keep the homeowners safe during the coronavirus pandemic. The assessment will conclude with a complimentary water test from a state-certified lab, which otherwise can be a costly and time-consuming procedure. The water quality analysis will test for the following contaminants: Arsenic, Chloride, Copper, Fluoride, Hardness, Iron. Lead, Manganese, pH, Sodium, Coliform Bacteria, Nitrate/Nitrite, Radon, and Uranium. Interested homeowners can visit www.rcapsolutions.org/ma-private-wells for additional information.

The Central Massachusetts Private Well Program is a community partnership funded by a $196,150 Synergy Initiative planning grant from The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts. The goal of the program this year is to assess a minimum of 20 private wells in the northern Worcester County area to determine the presence and location of water quality issues to inform the development of a pilot project in 2021 that will conduct additional private well water testing in the region. The second phase of this effort will include public education, advocacy for local and statewide private well regulations that better protect homeowners and communities, and identification of financial resources for homeowners needing well remediation.

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts in this important public health project,” stated Karen A. Koller, President & CEO of RCAP Solutions. “Because there are no state-wide regulations surrounding private well maintenance, it’s critical that homeowners in Central Massachusetts and across the state understand the importance of regular assessments and water testing. We are pleased to be able to fulfill our mission and meet the needs of rural communities by providing this valuable technical assistance to private well owners.”

Dr. Jan Yost, President & CEO of The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, added, “Access to clean and safe drinking water free of harmful contaminants is essential to good health. The Foundation is pleased to support this important project that seeks to improve private well water quality through increased knowledge and enhanced local and statewide regulations to protect the public’s health.”

“Massachusetts continues to be at risk of dangerous substances like arsenic, radon, and uranium,” stated Congresswoman Lori Trahan. “They are a clear threat to our health and environment. It is time for Congress and the federal government to get serious about assisting municipalities in need of resources to respond to this public health concern. That’s what I’ve advocated for since coming to Congress, and it’s why I will always support grant funding that organizations like Resources for Community and People can use to improve our quality of life. RCAP Solutions has been doing exceptional work in this area, and I applaud their efforts.”

RCAP Solutions is working closely with the Montachusett Public Health Network and the Nashoba Associated Boards of Health to assist communities with promotional efforts and to ensure positive outcomes for homeowners. In addition, RCAP is collaborating with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and ongoing efforts to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water.

“The MassDEP Drinking Water Program is pleased to be collaborating with RCAP Solutions on this HFCM funded North Central Massachusetts Private Well Program,” stated Yvette DePeiza, MassDEP’s Drinking Water Program Director. “This project provides some critical resources to North Central Massachusetts health agents and private well owners within the project area towns, helping to ensure that these private sources of drinking water are safe and reliable.”

About RCAP Solutions, Inc.
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.

About The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts
The Foundation was established in 1999 with the proceeds from the sale of Central Massachusetts Health Care, Inc., a physician-initiated, not-for-profit HMO. The Foundation currently has assets of approximately $73 million and has awarded grants totaling approximately $44 million to improve the health of those who live or work in Central Massachusetts. For further information about the Foundation’s grant programs, please visit The Health Foundation’s website at www.hfcm.org.

RCAP Network Survey Shows Impact of COVID-19 on Rural Water and Wastewater Systems

Our national affiliate, The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), recently released a survey that shows the major impacts of COVID-19 on small and rural systems. The survey received more than 1,100 unique responses from systems in 49 states and Puerto Rico.

The staggering data revealed that under current conditions, 31% of systems cannot sustain current financial losses for more than 6 months. In addition, more than 43% of systems surveyed said they rely on one full-time operator or less to operate their system (many rely on part-time staff, operators or volunteers), and many respondents indicated a concern over the health of their operators in the maintenance of the system. To view the full survey findings, click here.

RCAP also released state-specific data that can be shared with policymakers in each state to advocate for the continued need of future COVID-19 response funding for small water and wastewater systems. Below are the one-pagers for our service areas. More states will continue to be added.

RCAP Network COVID-19 Survey Reveals Small Water and Wastewater Systems’ Financial Outlooks

Addressing Stagnant Water in Buildings

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has issued guidance regarding the issue of stagnant water in buildings as people head back to the office and other facilities. Please see the message below or click on this link.

Make sure water in your pipes is fresh

During the COVID-19 pandemic some buildings and facilities have little or no water running through the pipes and fixtures for an extended period of time. These stagnant water conditions can result in discolored water, lower chlorine levels, higher concentrations of lead and copper and even the proliferation of Legionella, under certain building conditions. Fresh water should be drawn into the building water systems and stagnant water flushed out before the buildings are reopened.

EPA and MassDEP recommend that building owners and managers take proactive steps to protect public health by minimizing water stagnation during closures and taking action to address building water quality prior to reopening.

Use the following steps to get fresh water into your building:

  • Review and understand the plumbing configuration and water usage in your building.
  • Inspect the plumbing to ensure it is functioning properly and is in good condition.
  • Contact your water utility if you have questions on water use and quality in in your area. For a list of Massachusetts public water suppliers click here.
  • Maintain any water treatment systems used in the building, such as any point-of-entry or point-of-use filters or water softeners.
  • Maintain the hot water system, including keeping the temperature at or above 120°F per CDC guidance to prevent Legionella growth. See CDC’s guidance for reopening buildings for additional information, referenced in the Resources section below.
  • Flush the building’s plumbing system regularly. See instructions for flushing in the Resource section below.
  • Maintain all non-drinking water building water systems and devices according to the manufacturer’s specifications, such as: sprinkler systems, eye-wash stations, and safety showers, decorative fountains/water features, spas, hot tubs, pools, and cooling towers, etc.
  • Consider developing a water management program for your building water systems and all devices that use water. See CDC instructions for developing a water management program in the Resource section below.

Resources

Registraton for the Pennsylvania Regional Collaboration Summit is now open!

Taking place on March 10 – 11 in State College, Pennsylvania, this event will provide information, tools, and resources for communities to efficiently sustain their water and wastewater systems through regional collaboration, sharing services, or partnering with other organizations for mutual benefit. During this event attendees will hear from a number of speakers from various agencies and organizations and will participate in activities designed to inform and educate.

For more information about the event and to register, click here.

QUESTIONS? CONTACT:
Derik J. Dressler
Pennsylvania Regionalization Specialist
814-571-0727
ddressler@rcapsolutions.org

Save The Date! Pennsylvania Regional Collaboration Summit

This March, RCAP Solutions and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership invite you to attend a Regional Collaboration Summit. This summit will engage many stakeholders, including elected and appointed local government officials, state and federal agency staff, and others that play a role in water and wastewater utility management.

Mark your calendars and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more information in the coming weeks.

RCAP Solutions Welcomes Kathy Rodgers to Maine Team

Kathy Rodgers joined RCAP Solutions as Maine’s newest technical assistance provider.  Ms. Rodgers’ work in the water industry over the last fifteen years has cultivated a solid understanding of small community water and wastewater system challenges and needs.

“Ms. Rodgers is a great compliment to our team of professionals,” said Art Astarita, RCAP Solutions Maine State Lead. “I believe it is critical for our technical assistance providers to be able to draw on their experience to help ensure the success of our region. Kathy’s invaluable skills and expertise will make a difference in communities that need vital assistance with their drinking water and wastewater systems.”

Kathy Rodgers earned a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL.  Kathy holds water treatment and distribution licenses in multiple states.  She is experienced in root cause analysis and solution development, board trainings, funding applications, strategic planning, and drinking water operations. Kathy’s full bio can be found here.

RCAP Solutions, Inc., Community Resource Division’s committed 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.   RCAP Solutions Maine field offices are home to a dedicated team of staff members living and working in the Maine communities in which they serve.

About RCAP Solutions:

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.  RCAP Solutions is a comprehensive nonprofit community development corporation that works with communities of all sizes to address a broad range of needs including community resources; real estate services; client resources, advocacy and housing programs; financial services and education and training.  RCAP Solutions is part of a coordinated nationwide network with an integrated, multi-faceted approach to delivering high-quality services customized to each community’s unique requirements.  For more information, please visit www.rcapsolutions.org.

Today is Giving Tuesday – Give Today and Build Healthy Communities.

RCAP Solutions is an integrated community development organization with 50 years of experience building strong communities throughout the northeast and Caribbean Islands. Your support helps communities to become economically sustainable.

This includes:

  • Safe and affordable housing and homelessness prevention
  • Clean drinking water, wastewater and infrastructure programs
  • Rural economic and workforce development
  • Disaster preparedness, recovery and relief
  • Education and training programs
  • Access to programs and services that promote individual and community empowerment

Please give.

With your help we can assist individuals and communities in need.

Visit: http://bit.ly/RCAPGiveTue2019

 

P.S. We have added a new option: Give Where You Live!

Choose an optional designation and scroll down to an area of interest including your individual state.

More Than 2M Americans Living Without Access to Running Water & Sanitation Services

New Report Reveals More Than 2 Million Americans Living Without Access to Running Water and Sanitation Services
Report by DigDeep and US Water Alliance Unveils America’s Hidden Water Crisis

November 19, 2019 – Washington, DC – Two national non-profit groups, DigDeep and the US Water Alliance, released a new report, “Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan,” which included the Rural Community Assistance Partnership’s (RCAP’s) unique perspective from working with small, often disadvantaged, rural communities across the United States and Puerto Rico. While most Americans take reliable access to clean, safe water for granted, this new nationwide study found that more than two million Americans are living without running water, indoor plumbing, or wastewater treatment.

On the Navajo Nation in the Southwest, families drive for hours to haul barrels of water to meet their basic needs. In West Virginia, they drink from polluted streams. In Alabama, parents warn their children not to play outside because their yards are flooded with sewage. Families living in Texas border towns worry because there is no running water to fight fires.

Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States is the most comprehensive national study on the more than two million Americans who lack access to water service. The report fills an important knowledge gap: there is no one entity—whether a federal agency or research institution—that collects comprehensive data on the scope of the United States water access problem.

The report’s authors, with researchers from Michigan State University, examine six areas where the water access gap is particularly acute: the Central Valley of California, border colonias in Texas, rural counties in Mississippi and Alabama, rural West Virginia, the “four corners” area in the Southwest, and Puerto Rico. Researchers spoke to families living without water and captured their stories of poor health and economic hardship. The authors also spoke to local community leaders working to solve the water crisis by distributing water, building community-centered water projects where no infrastructure exists, and advocating for policy change to bring more reliable services to rural and unincorporated communities. Despite these community efforts, data suggests that some communities may be backsliding; six states and Puerto Rico saw recent increases in their populations without water access.

The report contains contributions from Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) network members from across the country, including research and policy perspectives from the national office in Washington, D.C., as well as perspectives on-the-ground from RCAP regional partners including RCAP Solutions (the Northeastern RCAP,) Communities Unlimited (the Southern RCAP,) Great Lakes Community Action Partnership (the Great Lakes RCAP) and Rural Community Assistance Corporation (the Western RCAP).

“Working with rural communities, we see the negative effects families face when their access to clean and safe water is threatened,” said RCAP CEO Nathan Ohle. “As members of the US Water Alliance, we vow to partake in these solutions to help close the water gap in America as quickly as possible, so rural communities can continue to thrive.”

George McGraw, Founder, DigDeep, said: “Over the past few years, DigDeep has brought running water to hundreds of families on the Navajo Nation, but now we’ve learned this hardship is shared by millions of Americans across the country. To live daily without reliable drinking water and with untreated sewage are conditions more frequently associated with impoverished nations, but it’s happening in our own backyards. With all the resources being leveraged to solve the water and sanitation crisis abroad, I have no doubt we can close the water gap in America quickly if we redouble our efforts.”

Radhika Fox, CEO, US Water Alliance, said: “It’s hard to imagine that in America today, people are living without basics like safe and reliable water service. While the challenges are daunting, this report presents a national action plan to close the water access gap in our lifetime. From the Central Valley to the Navajo nation, there are community-centered solutions that are working. Now is the time to build upon these innovations and ensure every American can thrive.”

The report makes several recommendations to help close the water gap in the United States. Recommendations include re-introducing Census questions about whether homes have working taps and toilets, as well as changes to how the federal government funds and regulates water systems to support rural and unincorporated areas. There are also several recommendations for the philanthropic and global WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) sectors to drive community empowerment, deploy innovative technologies, and apply successful WASH models from abroad here in the United States.

Read the full report at closethewatergap.org.
###
Media Contact:
Kinsey Brown, RCAP Communications Manager
(202) 800-4127
kbrown@rcap.org
www.rcap.org

Don’t Take Water for Granted on Imagine a Day Without 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. With reliable water service, people don’t have to think twice about the infrastructure that brings water to their homes, and then safely returns water to the environment – but everyone should be concerned with the fragility of those systems.

On Imagine a Day Without Water, take a moment to think about what would happen 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 that day be like? What would firefighters do? Could hospitals be sanitary without clean tap water, or without wastewater service? Would restaurants and hotels be able to serve guests? Would famers be able to water their crops or care for their livestock? Would manufacturing plants that require vast amounts of clean water, such as breweries or paper mills, shut down?

We take for granted that we don’t have to ask those questions every day, but America’s water infrastructure is aging and failing. Stories of communities with neglected infrastructure and compromised drinking water bubble up regularly. Record rainfalls in the Midwest this spring flooded the Mississippi River with pollution, and this summer toxic algae bloomed in the Great Lakes – a critical source of drinking water for millions of Americans. In other parts of the country, drought and wildfires threaten critical water supplies for communities and farmers. There are even communities, especially in many rural places across the country, that have never had access to infrastructure in the first place. Americans can’t take their water infrastructure for granted.

Water infrastructure is the lifelines of our community. Our water infrastructure supports every facet of our daily lives, but our water infrastructure is facing challenges.

Water challenges look different to different communities and will require local solutions, but reinvestment in water systems should be a national priority. Strong leadership on water is key to securing America’s future. Imagine a Day Without Water is an opportunity for everyone to get educated about our local water systems and challenges, what organizations are trying to do to solve our big water problems. It is also a day for us to raise awareness with our elected leaders and say, with one voice, that these are big problems that won’t be solved in a silo. We need leadership at every level if we want to secure a better future for the millions of Americans who don’t have reliable water service today, and 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.

RCAP Solutions Receives USDA Disaster Assistance Funds for Puerto Rico Communities Affected by Hurricane Maria

Contact: Maegen McCaffrey, RCAP Solutions

978-630-6714, mmccaffrey@rcapsolutions.org

Washington, DC (September 10, 2019) – The Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) and our northeastern regional partner RCAP Solutions is pleased to announce the receipt of disaster assistance funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for three rural communities in Puerto Rico. These communities were badly affected by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.

The communities receiving assistance are: Acuedouctos Barrio Guayabota Yabucoa, Inc.; Pozo de Agua, Inc.; and Comunidad Sector Los Gomez, Inc. The three communities combined received $169,571 in federal assistance from USDA.

“2017’s Hurricane Maria created a monumental shift in how we think about disaster recovery,” said Karen A. Koller, RCAP Solutions President and CEO. “We were fortunate to have the first boots on the ground as our organization worked around the clock to assist communities and assess the tremendous damage done to Puerto Rico’s small water systems. We applaud the USDA for providing the necessary resources for the revitalization and rebuilding of the Island. Access to safe and clean drinking water will only become more important as we see continued climate change. Creating sustainability for the long term in the Caribbean will continue to be an ongoing priority for our team, who lives and breathes their vitally important work at RCAP Solutions.”

Acueductos Barrio Guayabota Yabucoa is in Yabucoa, the eastern region of Puerto Rico. This water system serves 600 families, and several small businesses and community organizations. The water system is still severely affected by Maria and without power. The funding they received will provide generators and lab equipment needed for the system to increase compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).

Pozo de Aqua is in Caguas, the central mountain range of Puerto Rico, and provides drinking water to approximately 183 families. The water system needs extensive repairs from damages caused by Maria. The funding they received will replace pipes, wells and other equipment and help prepare the system for any future disaster.

Comunidad Sector Los Gomez is in the central eastern part of Puerto Rico. Prior to Hurricane Maria, the system provided drinking water to 60 families, but the system lost power for six months following the disaster. The USDA funding will allow the community to replace damaged equipment and purchase a new generator. Because Maria damaged the water tank and well, the community is planning a second phase of funding to evaluate soil conditions to determine if next steps are needed to ensure the system is safe for all citizens.

“Even before Hurricanes Irma and Maria came through Puerto Rico, our team has been working with some of the smallest, most remote areas across the island. The tremendous support that our team in Puerto Rico provided to these communities was critical in securing these funds for three of the island’s hardest hit and lowest capacity areas,” said RCAP CEO Nathan Ohle. “The success each community had in securing these funds is exactly the reason the RCAP network is working to build capacity in small communities across the country and is a testament to the incredible work the team at our partner RCAP Solutions is accomplishing every day.”

About RCAP:
RCAP is a network of nonprofit organizations working to ensure rural and small communities throughout the United States have increased capacity to drive access to safe drinking water, sanitary wastewater, economic development and disaster recovery that leads to economic prosperity. To learn more about this work visit: rcap.org.

About RCAP Solutions:
Established in 1969 as Rural Housing Improvement, 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. RCAP Solutions is an integrated community development organization serving the rural northeast, Caribbean, and Worcester county region for housing assistance. RCAP Solutions is the Worcester County affiliate of The Regional Housing Network (RHN) of Massachusetts and the Northeast affiliate of the national Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) Network based in Washington D.C.