WVU environmental program wins $3 million EPA award

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June 01, 2007 by NRCCE News

Morgantown, W.Va. — Source Water Protection Project Will Help Small Communities Address Water Quality

A West Virginia University environmental program won a $3 million, 18-month award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help very small communities learn how to protect their sources of drinking water.

The National Environmental Services Center (NESC) at WVU and its collaborator, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), will train and directly assist small drinking water system personnel and state and community officials across the country through the SMART About Water program. The program will focus on how to develop source water protection plans, a initiative of the EPA.

According to EPA reports, the leading polluter of small drinking water systems is untreated wastewater from failing septic tanks and small sewer systems.

“Source water protection involves a wide array of technologies, resources, and management options that for very small communities span from wastewater treatment to drinking water delivery,” said Richard Bajura, program leader and director of the WVU National Research Center for Coal and Energy where NESC is housed.

SMART About Water stands for ‘Strategic Management, and Available Resources and Technology.’ “How people choose to fund and manage their water infrastructure is as a big a factor as the technology they use,” Bajura said.

Plans will include ways that community leaders and homeowners can make sure wastewater systems are properly installed, maintained, and working over the long-term. “Septic systems and other small wastewater systems can in fact be the best choice for wastewater treatment in small communities, if they’re properly maintained,” said Bajura.

SMART About Water builds on the 30-year history of NESC’s National Small Flows Clearinghouse, National Drinking Water Clearinghouse, and National Environmental Training Center for Small Communities, whose technical experts provide the latest information about small community water and wastewater systems. RCAP brings a 30-year history of offering assistance to small communities through its nearly 200 specialists in all 50 states.

“We think that NESC’s university-based expertise coupled with RCAP’s on-the-ground network is an exciting partnership that will deliver results,” said Bajura.

The National Environmental Services Center (NESC) helps small and rural communities with their drinking water, wastewater, management, infrastructure security, and solid waste challenges. NESC is a program of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at West Virginia University. To learn more, call (800) 624-8301 or visit www.NESC.wvu.edu.

NRCCE