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.

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.
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Media Contact:
Kinsey Brown, RCAP Communications Manager
(202) 800-4127
kbrown@rcap.org
www.rcap.org

Exciting News! Hannaford Helps Reusable Bag Program

We are so excited to share that RCAP Solutions has been selected to be a part of the Hannaford Helps Reusable Bag Program, which is designed to make it easy for customers to contribute to their local community while supporting the environment.

For the month of September, each time a $2.50 reusable Community Bag is purchased at the Hannaford located at 21 Timpany Blvd, Gardner, MA 01440, $1 will be donated to RCAP Solutions. This is a great way to raise awareness, support the environment and fundraise for our cause.

Let’s get started! We can begin by spreading the news to our friends and family. Call, send emails, and post on social media. The more people who learn about the program and purchase the Community Bag during the month of September, the more money we will raise.

To learn more about this program, please visit hannaford.bags4mycause.com.

RCAP and LOR Foundation Introduce National “Rural Homecoming” to Celebrate Local Innovation and Opportunity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contacts:
Kinsey Brown, RCAP: kbrown@rcap.org, (202) 800-4127
Korenna Wilson, LOR: korenna@lorfoundation.org, (307) 690-0550

WASHINGTON, DC — (September 4, 2019) Rural communities across the country will celebrate the inaugural Rural Homecoming Oct. 18-20 by hosting events and engaging members of their community as part of a national movement that is rooted in local connections.

#RuralHomecoming was created this year to reconnect people to their hometowns and to kickstart a national dialogue on what being rural truly means. This fall, communities will come together to celebrate and give current and former residents a reason to reconnect with their
hometown and the innovation and unique attributes that make their community so special.

Rural Homecoming was developed by the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) in partnership with the LOR Foundation, and today the organizations are launching the program by inviting any rural community across the country to participate, free of charge. Each community will receive a toolkit to inspire and guide communities interested in getting involved, including a social media and communications plan rooted in each community’s plan to participate.

“Rural Homecoming lets each community tell their own story,” said Nathan Ohle, CEO of RCAP. “It provides an opportunity to let communities take back their story and highlight what makes rural America so special by giving communities a reason to open their doors and reconnect people with their hometowns. Rural Homecoming empowers each community to take part in a national partnership with a locally-focused approach.”

“We’re all from somewhere,” said LaMonte Guillory, Chief Communications Officer of the LOR Foundation. “Cities or small towns, coastal or inland, East or West, plains or mountains, the concept of Rural Homecoming allows people to connect with their roots and think about where they came from. It also gives us a chance to talk about the innovation and accomplishments that are happening in rural America right now, of which there are many.”

To access and download the free toolkit, visit https://rcap.org/events/ruralhomecoming/. Follow #RuralHomecoming on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to join the movement. We want to hear from you. What makes your community special?

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 LOR: LOR is a foundation that works to increase prosperity in the rural Mountain West, while preserving the character that defines these iconic places. Together with communities, they revitalize main streets, protect clean water supplies, preserve agricultural land and open space, and improve access to the outdoors and recreation. lorfoundation.org

2nd Annual RuralRISE National Entrepreneurship Summit to take place in Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Pine Bluff, Arkansas (September 17, 2019) – A coalition of partners is pleased to announce the second annual RuralRISE Summit, a national event focused on building rural entrepreneurial ecosystems, driving economic prosperity, and supporting doers and innovators in rural communities across America.

From September 17 – 19, rural leaders from across the country will gather at the Pine Bluff Convention Center in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, to address both the challenges and opportunities facing rural entrepreneurs throughout the United States.

“From rural Alaska to rural Appalachia, entrepreneurship and innovation span America’s rural communities,” said Joe Kapp, President of the National Center for Resource Development. “RuralRISE brings together rural leaders from across the country to share their expertise and experiences to help new rural businesses launch and their ecosystems thrive.”

At this event, attendees will have the opportunity to actively participate and collaborate with other entrepreneurial leaders from across the country in order to seek out practical, scalable, and replicable solutions to drive real results in rural American communities.

“Ultimately, the goal of this conference is to transform rural communities and create opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship to take place.” Says Nathan Ohle, Executive Director of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP). “Innovation is in the DNA of rural communities, and we are excited to help raise the voice of entrepreneurs in these areas across the country.”

For more information and to register, please visit: www.ruralrise.org

Free Water Operator Training Takes a Hands-On and Holistic Approach

This February, members of our state-side community resources team held a free operator training in Vermont. The training, which focused on disinfection and water quality monitoring, spanned four hours and gave attendees the chance to collect and test samples.

Mark Johnson, RCAP Solutions’ State Lead in Vermont, explained that “The class combined important theoretical concepts on disinfection with hands-on chlorine residual and coliform sampling exercises.”

This training, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, enabled Vermont operators to earn Training Contact Hours or THCs. These TCHs are accumulated so that water system operators can renew their certification, something that needs to be done every three years.

In addition to the hands-on experience, attendees were grateful for the networking opportunities, with one participant telling us, “Talking with Mark and other operators was informative. Good presentation.” Johnson continued on this, “Even for the most seasoned operator, the opportunity to improve on skills and compare technique with other operators is invaluable.”

Attendees hone their chlorine residual analysis technique and learn how to use both low and high range for analysis. High range chlorine analysis is not commonly practiced by operators, but it is an important skill for them to have if needed for emergency disinfection or to respond to a chlorine overfeed situation.

Make History Today | NH Gives

Donate to RCAP Solutions today and sponsor life-saving well water testing kits for New Hampshire residents.

Have you dreamed of making history? Of course, we all have. Now you have a chance to be a part of New Hampshire’s day of giving, and to top it off, your gift will go twice as far! Every donation will be matched by a very generous, anonymous donor.

Did you know that almost half of all New Hampshire residents get their drinking water from Private Wells? RCAP Solutions partners with many organizations to provide awareness, education, well assessment tools, testing kits, and treatment options in order to provide private well owners with safe drinking water.

With your donation of just $15, $30, $85 or more, you will help New Hampshire Residents by:

  • Providing free well water tests to residents in rural communities
  • Ensuring that families have water that’s free of harmful contaminants
  • Preventing cancer and other life-threatening diseases
  • Providing private well owners with safe drinking water
  • Giving small communities the resources to keep water healthy and clean

Starting at 6:00 PM on June 11, visit http://bit.ly/NHGives2019 and make your gift to support clean drinking water for New Hampshire residents. NH Gives ends at 6:00 PM on June 12.

No matter the size of the donation it will help provide small and rural communities with necessary resources to keep New Hampshire residents’ water healthy and clean.

Questions? If you have any questions or would like more information about private wells, visit www.rcapsolutions.org/private-wells/ or contact Martin Mistretta, New Hampshire Water Compliance Specialist, at Mmistretta@rcapsolutions.org or 603-312-7901.

Thank you in advance for your generosity to RCAP Solutions!