The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on October 1 that it expects to issue by October 15 a $21.7 million grant funding opportunity for technical assistance and training providers to support small drinking water and wastewater systems that are often located in rural communities across the United States.
Approximately 97 percent of the nation’s 145,000 public water systems serve fewer than 10,000 people. More than 80 percent of these systems serve fewer than 500 people. Many small systems face unique challenges—including aging infrastructure and workforce—in providing reliable drinking water and wastewater services that meet federal and state regulations.
Small water systems often face unique financial and operational challenges, including aging infrastructure, workforce shortages, increasing costs, and declining rate bases. The EPA anticipates that the funding opportunity announcement will solicit projects that will provide training and technical assistance to small public water systems, small wastewater systems, and private well owners across the country to help improve operational performance and comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act. The projects are also expected to help inform private drinking water well owners about strategies to protect their drinking water supply.
Eligible applicants for this competitive agreement are expected to be nonprofit organizations, nonprofit private universities and colleges, and public institutions of higher education. The EPA expects this grant solicitation will be posted on Grants.gov by October 15 and applicants will have 60 days to apply. The EPA expects to award these cooperative agreements by spring 2022.
This grant program will complement an announcement earlier this year of recipients for $12 million in new grant funding to support small, rural, and Tribal wastewater systems.