RAFT Application Resources

RCAP Solutions serves as the regional Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) for Worcester County and administers financial assistance through the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program. This program can provide eligible households with funding that can be used to help stay in current housing, obtain new housing, or otherwise avoid becoming homeless.

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Important Information for Worcester Residents:

Effective immediately, residents of the city of Worcester who apply for RAFT funding will be processed through the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance, Inc. (CMHA). As a result, RCAP Solutions will not be able to provide application updates to any clients residing in Worcester. This includes clients who may have received application assistance from RCAP Solutions.

If you reside in Worcester and are unable to complete the online application or need other RAFT application assistance, please contact CMHA at hc@cmhaonline.org or call 508-752-5519, ext. 172. You may also visit: https://www.cmhaonline.org/raft-erma-home

If you are unsure of which agency services your community, please visit this link: https://hedfuel.azurewebsites.net/

Application Assistance:

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts now requires all renter and landlord applications and documents to be uploaded directly into their system by visiting this link: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/how-to-apply-for-raft

RCAP Solutions is no longer allowed to accept documents by email or to upload them for applicants. Renters, homeowners, and landlords must set up their accounts online using the above link.

Resources for Tenants:

If you encounter any problems while applying for RAFT funds, please download the Housing Assistance Application Reference Guide for tenants applying for housing assistance through the Massachusetts Emergency Housing Payment Assistance Portal: https://www.mass.gov/doc/tenant-portal-raft-reference-guide/download

Resources for Landlords and Property Owners:

How Landlords Can Apply for RAFT Information Page: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/how-landlords-can-apply-for-raft

Landlord and Property Manager Intro to New RAFT Application Portal Presentation: https://www.mass.gov/doc/landlord-and-property-manager-intro-to-new-raft-application-portal/download

Landlord and Property Manager Intro to New RAFT Application Portal Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ou8nN2fW8pA

Housing Assistance Application Reference Guide for Landlords and Property Managers receiving payments through the Massachusetts Emergency Housing Payment Assistance Portal: https://www.mass.gov/doc/landlord-portal-reference-guide/download

These documents are found on the RAFT Public Resource and Training Portal: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/raft-public-resource-and-training-portal

If you need access to a computer to apply, locate your local library here: https://libraries.state.ma.us/libraries/search

For more information about the RAFT program please visit: (includes eligibility, timeline from application to award/denial, and how to check which agency is processing your application) https://www.mass.gov/service-details/residential-assistance-for-families-in-transition-raft-program

Finally, if you are unable to access or submit an online application, please contact RCAP Solutions at 978-630-6771 or HCEC@rcapsolutions.org for assistance.

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.

Testimonial – Borough of Midland, Pennsylvania

Check out this testimonial from the Borough of Midland, Pennsylvania!

Our team in the Keystone State has been working this community to improve their water and sewer infrastructure through GIS mapping, application assistance for funding programs, and more.

Midland is a small, rural community located on the edge of western Pennsylvania. A former manufacturing giant, the borough has been attempting to drive small businesses back to the area in the wake of their steel mill’s closure, which once played a major part in Midland’s economy and workforce.

The consultant for the authority, Brigid Darbut, has been working with RCAP Solutions as well as several other community organizations and leaders to introduce revitalization efforts in the town, not only through improved water infrastructure, but through economic development, shared services, and more.

Five-Year Coral Bay Watershed Management Plan Released

The Coral Bay Community Council (CBCC), a non-profit organization which helps communities in the U.S. Virgin Islands with environmental issues, recently released their 2021 Watershed Management Plan, a detailed 5-year outline for the future management of their stormwater and drinking water supply.

The plan is the result of over two years of work by Watershed Consulting Associates, CBCC, local residents, government agencies, and various other community development organizations.

In the wake of the destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, and the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the residents of Coral Bay will benefit from this plan, which incorporates professional analysis and stakeholder input to create a shared vision to address threats to water quality in and around the area.

The full plan can be viewed bewlow or at www.coralbaycommunitycouncil.org, along with an accompanying shorter, “Community Handbook” version.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information, check out CBCC’s press release, here.

RCAP Solutions is a long-time collaborator of CBCC. In addition to contributions made to support this plan, our team in the Caribbean has a extensive history of partnering with the council to provide vital education to industry professionals as well as residents surrounding drinking water, wastewater, and solid waste management.

RCAP Solutions Hires Business Opportunity Specialist

RCAP Solutions is pleased to announce the addition of Madison Wellman as Business Opportunity Specialist, managing the Open for Business program, a new economic development initiative providing support to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Mr. Wellman comes to RCAP Solutions with a diverse background in economic development, nonprofit management, sales, research, and communications. He has experience working in the political arena, as well as with small business startups, which provides him with a unique understanding of diverse business and community challenges.

Wellman served as the Regional Representative for Congressman Antonio Delgado in Oneonta, NY and Delhi, NY, where he worked closely with constituents from diverse backgrounds, including both nonprofit and for-profit enterprises, and municipal government officials. In this role, he met with project stakeholders to discuss issues such as funding resources, grant opportunities, small business concerns, and agricultural issues. He also has experience launching new offices with Bright Drive Healthcare Solutions, where he identified suitable offices spaces, negotiated with realtors and property owners, and addressed other logistical start up challenges. Prior to this, he managed economic development projects at the town and county level for both Schoharie County and the Town of Schoharie, NY. Wellman earned a Bachelor of Science degree in International Business and Economics from Canisius College of Buffalo, NY.

The Open for Business program is funded by Wells Fargo and offers self-guided online workshops, monthly webinars, and one-on-one consulting. This program offers education on a wide-variety of business concepts and caters to the specific needs of many rural, disadvantaged, and minority-owned small businesses. Topics include business law, business planning, marketing, financing, and accounting. These services are provided at no cost, in both English and Spanish, and are coordinated by our national affiliate, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), to provide services to small businesses across the country. RCAP Solutions services the Northeast and Caribbean regions.

“Mr. Wellman is a great complement to our team,” said Jenna Day, RCAP Solutions Director of Community Resources. “His understanding of rural community needs, paired with his legislative work and small business experience makes him the ideal person to support the small business community. The addition of the Open for Business program to our suite of services further expands our ability to support the economic development needs of rural communities in the northeast and Caribbean regions. The wide variety of resources, customized to cater to small business entrepreneurs, provides tremendous opportunity for underserved communities, and those who live and work there, to grow, thrive and cultivate stronger communities.”

RCAP Solutions’ Community Resources 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.

For additional information about the Open for Business Program, please contact Madison Wellman, Business Opportunity Specialist at: (774) 239-9783, mwellman@rcapsolutions.org or visit: www.rcapsolutions.org/open-for-business/.

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, 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.

Fail to Plan; Plan to Fail

By Kathy Rodgers, State Lead Maine

Providing Assistance with No Back-Up Plan Puts Everyone at Risk.

Emphasis must be placed on ensuring staff are cross-trained and appropriate documentation is available for continuity in operations.

A town manager in Maine, who found himself suddenly in charge of a small community water system, had quite the harrowing experience recently. Unfortunately, this avoidable story is not uncommon.  The small town’s water operator had suddenly taken ill and was hospitalized.  The back-up operator had passed away six months ago.  The community was quite remote, and the town manager was in desperate need of an operator who could help keep their two treatment plants operational.  The system had several treatment phases including pre-chlorination, filtration, aeration, and fluoridation that needed to be monitored and maintained.  After several days and several frantic calls later, they were connected to a licensed contract operator who was willing to drive two hours to investigate the situation.

Upon arrival, the contract operator was greeted by a very green public works employee who was set to be cross trained in the water department but had no working knowledge of the plants.  The public works employee confessed the regular operator, now hospitalized, had told him that all the information was “all up here” as he pointed to his temple.  It seemed the hospitalized operator had always felt his job was threatened and closely guarded operational information. That fear, which is often shared by undervalued operators, is unfortunate as it created a stressful situation for everyone left in his wake.

By the end of day one, the contract operator and the public works employee were able to determine where the maintenance logs and the test kits were located.  The seasoned contract operator was successfully able to show the public works employee how to run the daily test and record the meter readings.  Then the contract operator began searching for the operation and maintenance (O&M) manual or any standard operating procedures (SOPs), to figure out how the system worked, but to no avail.  There were no clear procedures found to follow to ensure the system was running properly.   Under stacks of unfiled paperwork, the contract operator was able to find an emergency response plan that hadn’t been updated in 18 years, which is recommended to be updated annually, but it was with very little detail and of little help.  With the assistance of contract operator’s administrative office, they were able to piece together clues as to how the facilities operated through state records and other pieces of information.

The alarms started sounding by day two.  Not that anyone really knew that alarms were sounding, as the hospitalized operator was the only one getting the notifications.  It was upon arrival to the plant that the public work employee observed the chlorine tank had run dry.  The proper ratio to prepare the chlorine solution was unknown.  The fluoride pump appeared to be unplugged.  Who knows why?  The public works employee was untrained in how to properly handle these dangerous chemicals. The contract operator stepped in again to help batch the chemicals and get the chemical feeds pumping.  The contract operator best recourse and advice was to encourage the town manager and the public works employee to reach out to their regular operator, while in the hospital, to get guidance.   Not an ideal situation for anyone.

This emergency could have all been avoided and continuity in service could have easily been maintained by having an O&M manual readily available.  The O&M manual serves not only as a tool for the operating and maintenance of the facilities for the personnel of the plant; but it also serves as road map for those who must step in when the primary operations’ crew is unavailable.   For the manual to be effective, vital information must be easy to find, quickly and efficiently.  The O&M manual is designed to give treatment system personnel and the back-up operator the proper understanding of techniques and references protocols necessary to efficiently operate their facilities.   Having an O&M manual which includes well written SOPs, and an emergency response plan will ensure that operations will be able continue in a situation when new or temporary staff must be trained quickly.

Moving forward the contract operator has been retained as the town’s back-up operator. His crew has already begun planning to assist with development of a functional O&M manual to eliminate this situation in the future.  The grateful town manager is now keenly aware of the need to document and to have a back-up plan in place.

When developing an O&M manual ask yourself:

  • What do I do on a daily and weekly basis to maintain my water or wastewater treatment system?
  • Do these activities or pieces of equipment that need maintenance involve SOPs, manufacturer’s specifications, or record keeping logs?
  • Do I have the right tools?
  • What documents or logs do I need to develop?

“Thank you so much for the help you guys have provided. You have been wonderful to work with. We will certainly be in touch.” – Town Manager of a Little Town, Anywhere, USA

Shared Solutions Bring Small Victories in Regional Collaboration

By Derik Dressler, PA Regionalization Specialist

As a system operator, manager, or board member you can be overwhelmed by the challenges that your small system routinely faces. While large challenges often demand more complex solutions, I would like to offer some small victories in regional collaboration that have proven to ease the challenges small system’s face. RCAP Solutions has assisted with establishing partnerships among several communities in the last number of years to lessen the burden on the system’s responsibilities. In these systems, the operators work with other operators in times of need whether in an urgent situation or a more routine basis. I would like to present a few real-world examples that led to solving some of these challenges. In one case, the new operator of a small system had no previous operating experience. The operator needed significant guidance and help to proficiently operate the system. In working with the system, RCAP was able to find the operator the help they needed from a neighboring system’s operator. This partnership eventually led to an ongoing working relationship that has proved to be very beneficial to the inexperienced operator. In another part of Pennsylvania, a small rural system needed a certified operator for the small filter plant that served their customers. The owners of the system were burdened by this task and did not know how to make this happen. RCAP was able to provide a list of operators in the area that were willing to operate the system and assist in reaching out to the certified operators. Within a few weeks the system obtained the services of a certified operator alleviating the non-compliance of the system. One other small rural system in Pennsylvania was experiencing significant water loss but was unaware of the exact location of the leak.

The system does not have sufficient leak detecting equipment or the experience needed to operate the equipment effectively. In consultation with RCAP, assistance was found from a neighboring system. The leak was located quickly, and the repair was completed within two days of noticing the water loss. All three examples show how regional collaboration can be effective. Even though the examples are a very small scale of what regional collaboration can be it is important to note the significant impact it had on each community. It is difficult to determine exactly how much impact each of these seemingly insignificant or small collaborative measures may have had. If the operator had not reached out to a more experienced operator for advice on important issues, where could they be now? If the second system did not collaborate with a certified operator to operate the system and continue in violation, what would that have meant for the system? If in fact, the system in the third example did not reach out to find help on the major leak could have it dewatered the system or impacted other portions of the system? While often large challenges demand large solutions, the truth is that we often do not fully comprehend the value in the small victories in collaborating with one another.

As a manager, operator, or board member of a small water system, what are some challenges your utility will face this year? How might partnerships help meet these challenges? RCAP offers free training and assistance in regional collaboration and offers partnership tools to help facilitate your regional collaboration efforts. If this sounds interesting to you, please reach out to Derik Dressler, Regional Collaboration Specialist at ddressler@rcapsolutions.org or 814-571-0727.

RCAP Solutions Hires Residential Loan Fund Manager

RCAP Solutions is pleased to announce the addition of Ashur Gurbuz as Residential Loan Fund Manager, providing Home Modification Loan Program services to residents in the Central Massachusetts region. Mr. Gurbuz comes to RCAP Solutions with a diverse background in lending, banking, real estate, customer service, and management gives him a solid understanding of this critical housing program and the challenges that his clients may face.

Gurbuz served as a Loan Officer for JG Wentworth Home Lending, where he provided a variety of housing loans to his customers, providing step by step guidance and customer service throughout the entire process of the loan. He also has experience as a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, where he assisted customers in buying or selling real estate, acted as a trusted resource for answers about the real estate process and supported customers through the closing process. Prior to this, he was a Branch Manager at Santander Bank where he received the “Top Performer Award” for customer satisfaction, and Assistant Vice President at Bank of America, where he was ranked nationally for his sales and relationship management skills.

The Home Modification Loan Program distributes financing to disabled persons and their families, to make structural and accessibility improvements to homes, allowing individuals to remain safely independent. Funds are delivered through a state-funded loan program of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission in collaboration with the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC). RCAP Solutions is the direct administrator of this program for all of Worcester County and parts of Norfolk and Middlesex Counties.

“Mr. Gurbuz is a great complement to the Home Modification Loan Program,” said Lovette Chislom, RCAP Solutions Director of Housing Counseling & Financial Services. “I believe it is critical for our lending staff to be able to draw on their experience to help ensure the satisfaction of our clients. This program has experienced a high volume of interest this year as caregiving families would like to keep their loved ones at home due to concerns around the pandemic. Ashur’s compassionate and engaging personality will help our clients to feel at ease and supported during this difficult time.”

Ashur Gurbuz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Assumption College in Worcester. Mr. Gurbuz is a licensed Real Estate Agent, a HUD Certified Housing Counselor, and a holds a Mortgage License, which makes him well qualified to handle a variety of homeownership issues that may arise during the lending and construction phases of the program.

The Home Modification Loan Program is part of The RCAP Solutions Housing Consumer Education Center, the organization’s front door to the public for all housing and emergency assistance programs. This includes financial and economic assistance programs such as Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA), and HomeBASE. There are also education and training programs, such as first-time home buyer and financial empowerment classes, and counseling support including pre and post homebuyer services and landlord/tenant assistance.

For additional information about the Home Modification Loan Program, please contact Ashur Gurbuz, Residential Loan Fund Manager at: (978) 630-6725, agurbuz@rcapsolutions.org or visit: https://www.rcapsolutions.org/home-modification-loan-program.

About RCAP Solutions:
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.

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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.