Preparing for Tropical Storms: Working with Circuit Riders Pays Off

April 11, 2014 |

By Kevin Baughman, RCAC Circuit Rider and Jennifer Nakaido, Hawaii Department of Health, Safe Drinking Water Branch During Tropical Storm Iselle, the dedication of many water professionals throughout the State was clearly demonstrated.  Water systems were put to the test and had a real challenge.  When the storm hit, it was good to see the hard work, preparation, and planning pay off. This story is about two water systems on the Big Island that have been working with the Drinking Water Circuit Riders to make technical, managerial, and financial improvements to their water systems.  The water systems owned by Hawaiian Beaches Water Company (HBWC) and Hawaiian Shores Community Association (HSCA) were hit hard during Tropical Storm Iselle.  The operators directly involved were Kate Drago and Mark Prescott of HBWC, and Samantha (Sam) Martoni and George (Keoki) Kaheiki Jr. of HSCA.  These professionals went above and beyond to help restore water service quickly and safely to the area.  HBWC and HSCA made contact with the Circuit Riders before, during and after the storm and assistance was given over the recovery days. Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) Circuit Rider Joy Gannon was instrumental in posting updates on social media by updating the…

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Midwest Assistance Program Assists Coleman, SD

April 5, 2013 |

Text below courtesy of the website of the Office of Community Services of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Grantees of the Administration for Children and Families [which the Office of Community Services falls under; this office gives RCAP regions annual grants directly] Rural Community Development (RCD) program provide training and technical assistance on safe, affordable water and waste water systems in low-income communities and tribal areas, many with populations at or below 2,500 people. Unlike large, urban areas with dedicated staff to address water needs and manage and maintain systems, these small communities often have a shortage of experienced and professional staff. One successful RCD grantee is the Midwest Assistance Program (MAP) [the Midwest RCAP]. MAP provides on-site technical, managerial and financial assistance to rural and tribal communities in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. The City of Coleman, South Dakota, requested MAP assistance to help address discrepancies in water records, water main breaks and areas of stagnant water.  The city’s current water meters had become obsolete and unserviceable. MAP helped the city develop and submit the State Water Plan Application and funding applications.  MAP helped secure funds for additional meter…

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Nashville, GA, Gets New Wastewater Treatment Plant

December 20, 2012 |

by Phillip Read Located in southeastern Georgia, Nashville is the seat of Berrien County and provides water and wastewater services to approximately 1,940 households. The aging wastewater treatment plant and land-application spray fields had become undersized due to growth in the area and also suffered from large volumes of infiltration and inflow during heavy rains. A complete system upgrade had become necessary to manage the issues facing the city’s wastewater service. The Georgia RCAP team (part of the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, the Southeast RCAP) assisted the city in the preparation of its Clean Water State Revolving Fund  loan application, including all supporting documents. The loan the city received funded the construction of a new, advanced wastewater treatment facility. The total amount of funding leveraged for the project due in part to the work of the Georgia RCAP staff is $6.2 million. The project began in January 2010 and is scheduled to be concluded in 2013. Technical specifications Wastewater pumped from the influent pumping station will receive preliminary treatment at a new or rehabilitated headworks consisting of fine screening and grit removal. Flow will then be by gravity through a splitter box that will feed the biological treatment process.…

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Puerto Rican Community Wins Award, Recognizes RCAP Solutions for Outstanding Assistance

December 18, 2012 |

by Josefa Torres Comunidad Barrio Mamey is a very small, rural community water system located in the town of Patillas, Puerto Rico. When the community was incorporated in 1971, it provided drinking water to 27 families from a surface water source. The water system currently has 96 connections and is run primarily by volunteers. When the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Puerto Rico Department of Health required the system to comply with Safe Drinking Water Act regulations, the community didn’t know where to start. In addition, residents were also confronted with meeting growing demands for drinking water in the community. Due to the community’s noncompliance with the Surface Water Treatment Rule (SWTR), EPA issued an administrative order and asked RCAP Solutions, the Northeast RCAP (responsible for RCAP’s programs in Puerto Rico), to assist the community. The community also needed RCAP Solutions’ help because it was using an unfiltered surface water source and a well that couldn’t satisfy the demands of the community. After much time and effort, RCAP Solutions was able to provide the community with the assistance necessary to comply with the regulations. Community award Every year at the annual conference of the EPA, American Water Works Association-Puerto…

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Nebraska Regional Water System Project Passes Important Milestone

June 29, 2012 |

In 2006, Midwest Assistance Program (MAP), the Midwest RCAP, staffer Harold Reynolds became involved with a project that would become the WAU-COL Regional Water System. The Wausa and Coleridge (WAU-COL) project area in northeast Nebraska had several small villages with either a quantity or quality problem with their drinking water.  Wausa and Coleridge had a sufficient source of good-quality water that could provide enough water to supply the six villages and themselves.  MAP staff, USDA-RD, Northeast Nebraska RC&D, Nebraska Health and Human Services and the Natural Resource Districts in the area formed an advisory coalition to assist the communities in forming the district.  The scope of the project included the development of a new water source for the communities of Magnet, McLean, Belden, and approximately 15 rural users. The project was approved, and USDA-RD provided funding. Six years and nearly $2.4 million later, the first phase of the project was completed and was marked by a celebration on Earth Day (April 20) 2012. Nebraska USDA Rural Development Community Programs Director Denise Meeks and staff celebrated the completion with the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District and area residents.  Special recognition was given to those who were instrumental to the project as…

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Partners in Pursuit of Safe Drinking Water in Kentucky

June 11, 2012 |

by Melissa Melton and Kimberly Padgett Margaret Meade once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” The City of Somerset and the South Anderson Water District in south-central Kentucky took Meade’s words to heart and made two nearly impossible infrastructure projects come to reality. Somerset, located in the state’s 5th congressional district, provides its residents with quality, affordable drinking water. The city owns and operates its own water treatment plant and sells water wholesale to at least eight utilities within Pulaski and five other surrounding counties. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development (RD) program estimated that with 80 percent of water sold to other utilities serving rural populations, 110,000 people would benefit from a project to expand supplying water to surrounding areas. With the existing water treatment plant operating at 92 percent capacity, the need for expansion was urgent. On Nov. 15, 2011, Somerset broke ground on an expansion to its water-treatment plant. It will include a 16-million gallons per day (expandable to 20 MGD) on-site, membrane-filter plant. The expansion will enable Somerset to better serve its customer base with an ample…

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Solid-Waste Transfer Station as Ft. Washakie, WY

December 14, 2011 |

Story courtesy of USDA Rural Development (slightly edited by RCAP), April 2011 Outline of need The Wind River Environmental Quality Commission (WREQC) is charged by the Joint Business Council of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the Northern Arapaho Tribe to regulate environmental matters on the Wind River Indian Reservation (WRIR). This includes management of solid waste, which has been a serious environmental and health issue on the Wind River Indian Reservation historically. How RCAP helped Section 306C Native American Grant funds will be used to modernize the existing solid-waste transfer station at Fort Washakie, Wyo., allowing for fee collection, source separation and recycling capacity at the transfer site prior to transportation to the landfill. USDA Rural Development's Community Programs Section has been working with the WREQC for the past year to develop a transfer station capable of processing solid waste efficiently and with equipment that meets the needs of the Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District, which currently transports waste from the transfer station to the district landfill under an agreement with the Joint Business Council. The grant is very timely as the WREQC is in the process of developing plans to pickup and transport solid waste to a regional…

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CNN’s Defining America Profiles Las Lomas, Texas, where RCAP has been Involved

December 14, 2011 |

In the summer of 2011, CNN's Defining America project explored the stories behind the statistics that we so often hear about to show how places are changing. One profile done by the project was of a remote community in the heel of southern Texas' Rio Grande Valley - Las Lomas, a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood in unincorporated Starr County. Community Resource Group, the Southern RCAP, is responsible for many of the improvements to the community's water system, which have benefits far beyond the direct ones its residents can derive from clean, safe water. CNN's profile includes a photo essay on life in a Texas Colonia.

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Funding Gives Colonia Residents New Hope for Wastewater System

April 28, 2011 |

An outpouring of state and federal funding and assistance from the Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) has one small Arizona community on the road to realizing its goal of improving a failing sewer system. Avenue B & C Colonia, a community of about 1,000 homes located on the edge of Yuma, Ariz., consists of mostly trailers and modest houses. But despite being a stable neighborhood since the early 1900s, Colonia has for years suffered from chronic sewage problems. To fix the sewage problem, the Colonia and its core of veteran residents needed to raise $23 million in funds. The community secured a majority of the finances from USDA Rural Development and $16 million in funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds. The other $5 million came through various state and federal agencies. Technical Assistance Providers from RCAC are supporting the community in its goal of improving its sewer system through ensuring proper filing of ARRA quarterly reporters. The project is another example of RCAC working to bring safe, clean drinking water to America’s rural communities. “By bringing in a variety of funding sources, this neighborhood where many struggle just to eke out a living will be able…

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Helping an Arkansas Town Improve Management of Struggling Water System

March 31, 2011 |

Staff of Community Resource Group, the Southern RCAP, met with residents of Mt. Zion, Arkansas, to help address serious issues with the community’s water system, which faces massive debt, failure to meet health regulations and thousands of dollars in state penalties.  At the first water association meeting in 15 years, approximately 50 people gathered to weigh options for improving their water system. The water association has approximately $70,000 in old debt owes more than $27,000 in state penalties for failing to comply with testing and health regulations. According to local online news Monticello Live, roughly half of the 180 homes connected to the Mt. Zion water system failed to receive a water bill.  For the month of August 2010, this equals about 417,000 gallons of “free” water that was used in the Mt. Zion system. The Arkansas Board of Health has suggested that Mt. Zion consolidate its water supply with the nearby town of Monticello and has also recommended CRG to facilitate the consolidation. The water associating meeting was conducted by CRG Technical Assistance Providers Jerry Kopke and Richard King. Kopke said that if Mt. Zion re-organized its board of directors and financed its debt, it could be debt-free within…

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