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DALLAS, TEXAS (August 3, 2022) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative. Doña Ana County, New Mexico, and Santo Domingo Pueblo are two of 11 pilot communities around the country where residents lack basic wastewater management that is essential to protecting their health and the environment.

“The America that we all believe in is a land of opportunity. But, for historically marginalized communities from Alabama to Alaska, that opportunity is stolen when basic sanitation doesn’t work—exposing adults and children to backyard sewage and disease,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “By partnering with USDA and leveraging funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA is working to restore dignity and opportunity to rural communities here in Lowndes County and across the country.”

“In many rural New Mexico communities, like Chapparal in Doña Ana County, residents live without access to basic sanitation services,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “We have a responsibility to provide equitable access to infrastructure, and this pilot is going to help us get there with valuable input from community members and local leaders.”

“Due to decades of underfunding, Santo Domingo Pueblo‘s wastewater infrastructure is degraded and needs repair and replacement,” said Santo Domingo Pueblo Tribal Administrator Herman Sanchez. “Participation in this initiative will enable the Pueblo to make important progress on addressing wastewater service needs in our community.”

An estimated 2.2 million people in the United States lack basic running water and indoor plumbing. Many more live with wastewater infrastructure that is ineffective and puts people’s health at risk. The Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative will help communities access financing and technical assistance to improve wastewater infrastructure

Wastewater infrastructure challenges exist in communities across the country. The Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative will be a roadmap to scale up efforts in the rest of the country. EPA and USDA each offer technical assistance that can help communities access funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other government programs.

Several of the communities chosen for this initiative are also participating in the Biden-Harris Administration’s recently announced the Rural Partners Network. The USDA-led network brings together twenty federal agencies and regional commissions to help rural communities create economic opportunity by accessing resources and funding that match their unique needs and priorities.

If you are a community interested in learning more about Technical Assistance opportunities, please visit our webpage.

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