News Briefs: Charleston Working to Create Map of Lead Pipes as EPA Considers New Rule

Also in this week's sewer and water news, a new study will examine water infrastructure quality's impact on economic growth

If the new rule for lead and copper in drinking water under consideration by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is finalized as expected in June, local water utilities across the nation will be faced with tracking down their lead service lines.

Officials at Charleston (South Carolina) Water System are getting a start poring over old paper records to create a website that shows where its lead and copper lines are located. Officials say there are about 4,500 known lead service lines and 7,000 lines of unknown pipe material.

New Study to Examine Water Infrastructure Quality's Relation to Economic Growth

The University of Kentucky’s Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky is teaming with Communities Unlimited in Arkansas and the Urban Institute on a three-year study — the first nationally — to analyze the role of site-specific water and wastewater infrastructure quality, capacity and noncompliance on rural economic development and growth.

Funded through a rural economic development award from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the project is led by Alison Davis, UK agricultural economics professor and CEDIK director, Ines Polonius, Communities Unlimited CEO, and Corianne Scally, a principal research associate at the Urban Institute.

Aside from data collection and analysis, the team also intends to provide resources and educational training to water and wastewater operators, their boards and local economic development professionals and to promote better local, state and federal decision-making.

“This project is designed to better understand the repercussions of poorly managed or under-resourced water quality and wastewater. We’ll look at how it affects economic development and population trends,” says Davis, a faculty member in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

USDA Announces Funds Available for Drinking Water Systems

The United States Department of Agriculture is making funds available through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program.

Eligible applicants are encouraged to apply by using the online application system RD Apply. In Fiscal Year 2020, USDA’s Water and Environmental Programs invested $2.09 billion improving rural infrastructure for 2.1 million rural residents.

The Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program provides loans and grants for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, solid waste disposal, and stormwater drainage to households and businesses in rural areas with a population of 10,000 or less. Eligible applicants include local public bodies, nonprofit corporations and federally recognized tribes.

Low-interest-rate financing can be combined with grants to keep user rates affordable, and loans can carry a repayment term of up to 40 years.


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