The online RCAP Resources Library has a variety of resources that are useful to small, rural drinking water and wastewater systems.

Affordability and Capacity Issues of Small Water and Wastewater Systems: A Case for Regionalization of Small Systems

There is widespread agreement that water and wastewater services are vital to the sustainability of a community, but small rural towns face considerable and persistent challenges in developing and maintaining them. Small water and sewer systems face mounting pressures and increasingly difficult decisions. They must juggle the cost of meeting ever more stringent regulations under the Safe Drinking Water and Clean Water Acts with the need to deliver affordable service to their users while remaining financially viable. The cost of compliance increases as the technology required to meet standards becomes more sophisticated, resulting in continually rising capital and operating costs. In the end, rural residents pay, on average, three to four times more than their urban counterparts for these services.

Meanwhile, the gap between infrastructure needs and available federal and state supportive resources continues to widen as more systems reach the end of their useful life and the demand for new systems in previously unserved areas escalates. One of the much-touted solutions to this problem is restructuring or combining small water and wastewater systems, creating economies of scale. There are documented benefits to regionalization, but a number of barriers prevent systems from pursuing regional approaches. Federal and state governments should take steps to help eliminate barriers and encourage cooperation and collaboration among water and wastewater providers.

One of the much-touted solutions to this problem is restructuring or combining small water and wastewater systems, creatinge conomies of scale. There are documented benefits to regionalization
but a number of barriers prevent systems from pursuing regional approaches. Federal and state governments should take steps to help eliminate barriers and encourage cooperation and collaboration among water and wastewater providers.

For our Great Lakes Region’s full report, click here.