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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

USDA's Vilsack: "Access to modern, reliable wastewater infrastructure is a necessity"

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the recent launch of the Closing America's Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative.

The initiative was announced at an Aug. 2 event in Lowndes County, Ala., according to a USDA news release. The initiative will get its start in 11 communities and Tribes in Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, West Virginia and Arizona, where residents lack basic wastewater management.

“Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA believes hardworking people in America’s small towns and rural communities should have the infrastructure they need to be healthy and to provide for their families. We recognize that there are still people who have been going without the basics,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the release.

Approximately 2.2 million people in the U.S. lack running water and indoor plumbing, and many more live with ineffective and harmful wastewater infrastructure, the release reported. The USDA and the EPA will work as partners to use technical resources to support underserved communities in gaining federal funding opportunities to address their wastewater needs and end backyard sewage exposure. Such funding opportunities include those provided by President Joe Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which was signed in November.

“Access to modern, reliable wastewater infrastructure is a necessity, and the Biden-Harris administration is committed to doing everything we can to ensure every family and every child in America has access to these vital services," Vilsack added, according to the release. "By combining USDA and EPA resources and taking advantage of the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we can restore to these communities a sense of economic vitality and social dignity that the people living there deserve."

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