Rep. Sewell, EPA, USDA Announces Rural Wastewater Infrastructure Initiative

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Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama, hosted U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan and House Infrastructure Coordinator Blanche Mitch Landrieu in Lowndes County to announce a new wastewater infrastructure initiative as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act to Address Problems and Failing Sanitation Systems in Rural Alabama.

Sewell hosted a roundtable at White Hall City Hall to give federal officials the opportunity to hear directly from local leaders about the unique needs of each community.

“Access to adequate wastewater treatment infrastructure is a basic human right, but for too many of my constituents, generations of disinvestment have led to broken and failing wastewater treatment systems that put the health of our communities at risk,” Rep. Sewell said. “Since coming to Congress, I have made solving our wastewater crisis a top priority, working to secure funding and direct resources to areas that need help. Now, thanks to the leadership of the Biden-Harris administration and the transformative investments of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, further assistance is on the way.This joint initiative between the EPA and USDA will be instrumental in our fight to improve water infrastructure. worn out for our most underserved communities.

The Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap community initiative will enable the EPA and USDA, working closely with local communities, state and tribal partners, and on-the-ground technical assistance providers, to leverage the technical and financial expertise to advance in wastewater infrastructure management. needs of some of the most underserved communities in America. Each community or tribe will receive direct support to develop wastewater assessments with technical engineering support, design community wastewater solution plans, identify and pursue funding opportunities, and build long-term capacity. States, tribes, and water agencies have committed to working with the EPA and USDA to support these communities.

Since coming to Congress, Rep. Sewell has made it a priority to improve sewage treatment infrastructure in rural Alabama. She is the author of several successful bills to address wastewater issues, including the Rural Septic Tank Access Act, which was passed in the 2018 Farm Bill, and the decentralized wastewater subsidies, which was included in President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure act. These two acts established grant programs under the USDA and EPA respectively to help low- and middle-income households connect their homes to existing wastewater treatment infrastructure or install or upgrade level of septic tanks belonging to private individuals. It has secured millions of dollars in funding through the annual appropriations process to treat Alabama’s wastewater infrastructure, including, most recently, $700,000 to install septic systems in Lowndes County.

“The America 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 fails, exposing adults and children alike. to sewage and disease,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “By partnering with the USDA, states, and raising funds through the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, EPA s ‘is working to restore dignity and opportunity to rural communities here in Lowndes County and across the country.”

“Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA believes that hard-working people in small towns and rural American communities should have the infrastructure they need to be healthy and support themselves. of their families. We recognize that there are still people who don’t have the basics,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Access to modern, reliable wastewater treatment infrastructure is a necessity, and the Biden-Harris administration is committed to doing everything in its power to ensure that every family and child in America has access. to these vital services. By combining the resources of the USDA and EPA and leveraging the historic bipartisan Infrastructure Act, we can restore these communities to a sense of economic vitality and social dignity that the people who live there deserve.

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“President Biden has been clear: we can leave no community behind as we rebuild America’s infrastructure with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. This includes rural and tribal communities that have felt forgotten for too long. The bipartisan Infrastructure Act provides $11.7 billion in loans and grants to communities for a wide range of water quality infrastructure projects, including wastewater treatment solutions for these communities,” said said White House infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu.

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