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USDA and EPA Join Forces to Help Rural America

Partnership will improve drinking water systems and develop the work force.

Published on: Aug 8, 2011

Under a partnership announced Monday the USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency will work to promote jobs in the water industry by providing training for new water careers and coordinating outreach efforts that will bring greater public visibility to the workforce needs of the industry, and develop a new generation of trained water professionals. This project will not only improve water systems but will provide employment opportunities in rural communities.

"EPA and USDA have joined forces to leverage our expertise and resources to improve drinking water and wastewater systems in small towns across the country," said Nancy Stoner, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. "A critical part of this agreement is to ensure that we have a well-trained, professional workforce available to replace workers when they leave or retire."

Nationwide, small water and sewage treatment facilities with limited funding and resources face challenges due to rising costs and aging equipment and pipes. The agencies will also help rural utilities improve current operations and encourage development of long-term water quality improvement plans. The plans will include developing sustainable management practices to cut costs and improve performance. 

"The agreement we are announcing today represents an exciting partnership between USDA and EPA that will greatly enhance our investments in water systems and also in developing a skilled workforce to oversee them," said Jonathan Adelstein, administrator for USDA’s Rural Utilities Service. "By working together, our agencies will strengthen their capacity to provide rural residents with safe, clean, well-managed water and wastewater systems for years to come."

This program will help meet the Administration's infrastructure goal of providing improved drinking water to 1.8 million rural residents. For more information about the EPA-USDA agreement click HERE. Information about USDA's Water and Environmental Programs for rural communities can be found by visiting USDA's Rural Development website, and programs and tools for small water systems offered through the EPA are available HERE.