RCAP Solutions’ Caribbean Team Participates in USDA Rural Development Stakeholder Meeting with Secretary of Agriculture

Written By: Juan Campos Collazo, Community Specialist

The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Thomas Vilsack, hosted a discussion with stakeholders in Puerto Rico, including community groups and economic development officials, to discuss the importance and impact of the Rural Partners Network (RPN). The purpose of this conversation was to encourage further development of the community networks. Secretary Vilsack wanted to hear directly from stakeholders about the benefits, opportunities, and their hopes for the RPN in Puerto Rico.

Background: In April 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration and USDA launched the Rural Partners Network, an all-of-government program to help people living in rural areas access federal funding and resources to create thriving communities. The network is working in 36 rural and tribal community networks; three of those community networks will serve regions in Puerto Rico. These community networks were selected through a series of deliberations with state directors and teams from RPN states, and additional consultations with prospective community networks. Each of these networks will be supported by up to four full-time federal staff who live and work locally. These community liaisons help communities navigate federal programs, build relationships, identify community-driven solutions, and develop successful applications for funding.

Cohort I: The first RPN Cohort was announced in April 2022 and included the launch of community networks in Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and New Mexico.

Presently, participating community networks are selecting their initial projects and refining their long-term priorities (i.e., future projects); USDA will organize federal partners to support these initial projects in an effort to secure early wins on behalf of the network. Additionally, thirteen staff have been hired to support these community networks with the only outstanding positions being an additional liaison in Mississippi, Kentucky, and New Mexico, and supervisory positions in Mississippi, Georgia, and Kentucky. Every Cohort I state has some level of RPN staff in place that are engaging with networks to facilitate a community-driven vision.

Cohort II: The second RPN Cohort includes Wisconsin, West Virginia, Nevada, Puerto Rico, Alaska, and North Carolina. Secretary Vilsack announced the inclusion of Puerto Rico in November 2022, but did not announce the specific community networks in Puerto Rico (nor in Alaska) since the selection process was interrupted by recent natural disasters.

Secretary Vilsack wanted to know from each of the panelists about the kind of work we do and how it relates to the Rural Partners Network. RCAP Solutions staff explained that we are part of a national affiliate, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), providing rural communities with on-site technical assistance and training to help small, rural communities address their drinking water, wastewater, and other community development needs. In addition, RCAP Solutions staff elaborated on how we help these communities access dollars from state and federal agencies for necessary infrastructure upgrades and improvements. RCAP Solutions also acts as a liaison between these communities and USDA Rural Development funding programs in Puerto Rico. The technical assistance provided by RCAP Solutions to the communities is free of charge and is funded under the grants from the USDA , EPA, and HHS.

A question arose from the secretary about what we consider to problems in achieving economic development. The mayor of Coamo, Puerto Rico pointed out the decrease of population as one of the most relevant problems, because of the lack of professionals, the decrease of laborers, and the decrease of economic movement. The mayor of Villalba, Puerto Rico mentioned the lack of agriculture development in Puerto Rico as a problem, and noted a dependance on foreign imports.

RCAP Solutions expressed that not all the rural communities have the commitment to improve their capacity and our work depends on community collaboration to achieve their goals and improve their quality of life.

Finally, the secretary advised to all the partners, especially the mayors, to first identify an economical driver and then write proposals based on it. He referenced the example from the mayor of Villalba, who identified the agriculture as an economical driver. The meeting ended with the thanks from Secretary Vilsack and from the USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico, Maximiliano Tujillo.

Proposed Legislation Would Enable Statewide Drinking Water Protections and Financial Assistance for Massachusetts Households With Private Wells

It’s time to promote equitable access to safe, clean drinking water across the state!

Right now, many Massachusetts residents who rely on private wells are consuming water that may be unsafe. Over 500,000 people throughout the Commonwealth rely on these wells, yet there are no statewide regulations to ensure private well water is safe from harmful contaminants such as PFAS, arsenic, radon, uranium, and more. In contrast, public water systems are regulated by the state and are subject to routine monitoring.

In January, Senator Jamie Eldridge, Representative Dan Sena, and Representative Smitty Pignatelli filed legislation which would provide equitable access to safe drinking water for all Massachusetts residents – regardless of where they live and what their financial resources are.

An Act Promoting Drinking Water Quality for All (SD.2387/HD.3322) would enable the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to develop regulations which would provide minimum statewide water quality standards for private wells supplying drinking water.

The regulations themselves would be developed by drinking water experts at MassDEP, likely in consultation with a technical advisory group and with a process for public input. To maximize public benefit, the bill would require MassDEP to evaluate practices to minimize the paperwork burden for affected parties.

In addition, the bill would expand the existing MassHousing Septic Repair Loan Program (SRLP) to provide low-income homeowners with access to financial assistance to remediate contaminated private wells.

“The importance of testing your well water is reflected in this important legislation put forth by Senator Eldridge, Representative Sena, and Representative Pignatelli,” said Brian D. Scales, President & CEO of RCAP Solutions. “Too many homeowners take for granted that their water is safe and clean. Water is all around us, we bathe in it, cook with it, and drink it on a daily basis. The only way to ensure all this water is clean and safe to consume is to have it tested.”

“We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Eldridge, Representative Sena, and Representative Pignatelli in addressing long-standing drinking water inequities,” explained Amie Shei, PhD, President & CEO of The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts. “The state regulates the wastewater leaving a home, yet it does not regulate private well water entering a home and being consumed. This legislation closes an important gap in access to safe drinking water.”

RCAP Solutions and The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts are working together to improve access to safe drinking water for private well owners. From 2020 to 2022, the Private Well Program to Protect Public Health, which has received nearly $1.5 million in grant funding from the Foundation, has conducted over 500 water quality tests across several Massachusetts towns and found that approximately 32% of wells had levels of contaminants exceeding state health standards and/or suggesting potential health risks. The Coalition for Safe Drinking Water was recently formed as a way to engage a wide range of stakeholders in working together to ensure safe drinking water for all Massachusetts residents.

For more information about this legislation, our private well programming, and the Coalition for Safe Drinking Water, please visit: www.whatsinyourwellwater.org.

Synergy Spotlight: Meet Pat Byrnes, Development Advisor

The name Pat Byrnes is well-known throughout the Massachusetts affordable housing industry, and for good reason. Throughout her extremely tenured career, Pat has worked for many organizations throughout the Commonwealth, including the Springfield Redevelopment Authority, MassHousing, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts (RHN), and most recently, RCAP Solutions.

Born into a family who immigrated from Italy, Pat grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts. Although she has worked in other states on both the east and west coasts, Western Massachusetts has always been her home. Pat’s very first job was working in retail at a children’s clothing store while in high school. This sparked her love of retail, leading to an executive training opportunity with Filene’s, which, she explained, “set my career on fire.”

One of Pat’s earliest accomplishments was working as a property manager at a 160-unit affordable housing complex in Springfield. Pat was in her early 20’s when her work managing such a large complex got her noticed by industry leaders. She moved to Boston, which was “the big click” for her career in housing, she loved what it stood for and that, much like retail, many of the industry leaders were women.

Later, Pat was recruited by DHCD and RHN to write the contract for the state’s Section 8 Homeownership Program. Upon completion of this project, Pat’s skills proved to be invaluable, and thus she was hired at RHN full-time. Pat worked there for 16 years, where she made strides assisting the nine Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCECs), hosting annual conferences, and working with legislators and advocates to ensure proper funding for affordable housing programs and developments across Massachusetts.

During her substantial time at RHN, Pat worked together with Maureen Fitzgerald, then-Executive Director of the organization, to ensure fair and equal treatment for the people we all collectively serve, as well as to uphold respect for the staff. These two female trailblazers brought the agency to where it is today – the forefront – and eventually positioned it for success under new leadership.

“For 16 years, I had the pleasure of working as a team with Pat Byrnes at the Regional Housing Network. Her efforts were woven into everything that the Network accomplished”, said Maureen, “Pat is one of the most mission-driven, smartest people I know in the housing industry. She is also one of the warmest, funniest, most generous people I know.  RCAP Solutions is very lucky to have her on board!”

Pat reflected on her history at RHN, stating, “For me and for Maureen, it was a shared experience. Whatever one accomplished, was also the accomplishment of the other. We were kind of seamless.”

Pat has worked tirelessly with other industry leaders, including Nancy Rivera, Housing Advisor at RCAP Solutions, who said, “Pat and I have known each other for more than 40 years. During this time, I’ve had the pleasure of working and participating with Pat in a variety of projects and subcommittees. Her knowledge and expertise have been invaluable. She is such a wealth of information in the housing industry and is always willing to share. Pat is a very kind, caring, and loving person. She is very sympathetic and is willing to support causes by contributing her time or helping monetarily. Pat is not only my co-worker, but she has also been a true friend to me and many of us who know her.”

In late 2019, Pat joined RCAP Solutions as the Development Advisor and currently works extensively with the organization’s housing department and in support of grant-writing activities. She is always up for a challenge and ready to assist with any new project which lands in her inbox. Pat’s extensive experience, knowledge of the housing industry, and familiarity with the non-profit world has proven an integral resource for the many RCAP Solutions staff members who collaborate with her on a daily basis.

When asked what she is most passionate about, Pat said, “People having homes – people having keys to a door that nobody else has. That has been a driving force of mine for years.”

Pat is a member of the board of directors at Valley Community Development in Northampton. When she is not working to ensure people have safe homes, she is often working to ensure animals have safe homes – Pat is a volunteer at her local animal shelter. Pat is also an avid college basketball fan and currently enjoys rooting for the Providence Friars, an NCAA Division I team.

Brian Scales, President & CEO at RCAP Solutions remarked, “I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Pat for a number of years. When she came to work at RCAP Solutions, she brought with her a wealth of knowledge and experience; she very quickly became a vital member of our team. I am extremely grateful for all of her input and can rely on her to accomplish anything put before her, including assisting in filling out March Madness brackets.”

Fun Facts About Pat:

  • Hometown: Springfield, Massachusetts
  • Favorite Book: Still Life by Louise Penny
  • Favorite Movie: The Big Easy directed by Jim McBride
  • Favorite Food: Anything Italian
  • Favorite Musician: Tish Hinojosa (folk singer, songwriter, and guitarist)
  • Historical Figure She’d Like to Meet: Josephine Baker (American-born French dancer, singer, actress, and civil rights activist)
  • Place She’d Like to Travel to: Italy

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.

Groton Commons Accepting Applications for Studio & One-Bedroom Apartments

A Place You Can Call Home!

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

The facility is set in a quiet, rural area, only minutes from groceries, banks, retail shops, and other conveniences; and only 35 miles from Boston.

These beautifully designed, 100% smoke-free studio and one-bedroom apartments are equipped with spacious closets, emergency pull cords, cable TV/internet hookup, air conditioning, wall-to-wall carpeting, ample storage, kitchens with modern appliances, and showers with grab bars.

Head of household must be 62 or older, OR mobility impaired. Residents must be income-eligible. Qualified applicants pay 30% of their monthly adjusted income for rent. Heat and hot water are provided. Residents are responsible for electricity, telephone, and cable services.

For more information, contact management at: (978) 448-9551 or GrotonCommons@rcapsolutions.org

Click Here for Groton Commons Application

Save the Date! Water Auditing & Leakage Management Training for Central Pennsylvania Water Utilities

Through this two-part instructional training, we aim to advance the knowledge and skills of utilities in regard to water auditing and leakage management.

When: April 11 & 18, 2023 • 8:30 AM – 3:15 PM (both days)
Where: Toftrees Golf Resort • 1 Country Club Lane State College, PA 16803
Add To Calendar

Register Here

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.

RCAP Solutions, Cavanaugh & Associates, P.A. and Kunkel Water Efficiency Consulting are hosting a two-part instructional training in April 2023. We aim to advance the knowledge and skills of utilities in regard to water auditing and leakage management. The training is part of a project sponsored by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission to elevate the efficiency of water utilities in Centre County, PA and adjacent counties.

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 attend this event. Lunch will be provided.

Register today, mark your calendars, and be on the lookout for additional information in the coming weeks!

If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact Sukhwindar Singh, Pennsylvania State Manager, via email: ssingh@rcapsolutions.org or phone: (814) 861-7072

John and Rebecca’s Story: Using Funds From the Home Modification Loan Program to Improve a Loved One’s Quality of Life

John and his wife Rebecca have been living in their Shrewsbury, Massachusetts home for over 40 years. Rebecca, who met John at a company they formerly worked at, is an avid ornamentalist and hangs the walls of their house with numerous pieces of art and other décor, making their home their home feel truly cozy.

During 2014, the couple went to the doctor after noticing changes in Rebecca’s behavior, such as her difficulty remembering things and confusion when performing daily activities. Rebecca was shortly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

For several years the disease progressed. Rebecca began to use a wheelchair and John looked for new ways to make their home more accessible.

John and Rebecca’s bathroom proved difficult for mobility, as Rebecca could not lift herself into the bathtub-shower. For Rebecca to stay clean, she was given sponge baths. Their caregiver, who tends to Rebecca while John is at work, informed John of the Home Modification Loan Program (HMLP) and how it could improve Rebecca’s quality of life.

After applying for the loan, identifying a certified contractor, and construction was completed, John and Rebecca’s old bathtub-shower was replaced with an ADA compliant barrier-free shower, allowing Rebecca to be rolled into the shower using a shower wheelchair.

Thanks to HMLP, Rebecca is now able to take frequent showers with ease and John has peace of mind knowing that his wife can cleanse safely. After taking her first shower in several years, Rebecca, who has limited vocal capabilities, managed to express her gratitude by saying the words “thank you” and giving a kiss to the caregiver who was assisting her.

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