19 November 2009 – In 2008, the National Environmental Services Center (NESC) launched Smart About Water, a project in partnership with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) designed to assist small communities in their efforts to protect drinking water quality. Funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the project helped develop and provide training and technical assistance about source water and wellhead protection, and focused on untreated wastewater from failing septic and sewer systems, the largest contributor to water quality degradation.
The first step of the project was training RCAP field staff, who then conducted 112 trainings in 42 states and U.S. Territories. Altogether, SMART trained 1,479 participants representing 683 small and very small drinking water systems throughout the nation. Of special interest were the 23 Trailblazer Communities, selected by RCAP based on their readiness to prepare source water and wellhead protection plans.
The SMART project officially ended September 30, 2009, although most of the project materials are still available on the SMART About Water Web site at www.nesc.wvu.edu/smart. In fact, more than 25,000 people still visit the site each month and downloads of SMART information and training aids have increased each month since the site launched. NESC intends to remain engaged in source water protection efforts and is active in the EPA Source Water Collaborative.
“On behalf of NESC, we would like to thank all the people who made this project a success,” says Gerald Iwan, Ph.D., NESC’s director, “especially Robert Stewart in the national RCAP office and Steve Ainsworth with EPA’S Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water. We have seen a tremendous interest in source water from around the country. Thousands of communities recognize that water quality is essential to their well being and efforts to assist them in protecting their sources of water is a good investment. If you have benefitted from the SMART program or would like to see EPA devote more support to continue the activities begun under SMART, we’d love to hear from you.”
Contact NESC at:
National Environmental Services Center
West Virginia University
PO Box 6064
Morgantown WV 26506-6064
NESC is compiling a final report and results will be made available to the public early in 2010.
To learn more about RCAP, visit their web site at www.rcap.org. Learn more about the Source Water Collaborative by going to www.protectdrinkingwater.org. In addition to the SMART About Water site, NESC maintains a comprehensive Web site at www.nesc.wvu.edu.