Rural America left out of Trump’s water infrastructure plan
President Trump recently unveiled his infrastructure plan but it did little to address the water crisis in rural America.
Some utilities lack the ability to do appropriate water testing.
Small systems in rural areas account for nearly 70 percent of all violations.
When ranked by population served by systems with Safe Drinking Water Act violations, the top five states were: Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Georgia.
In other cases, tribal communities or small communities in agricultural areas rely on contaminated water sources.
Rural utilities generally favor expanding the U.S. EPA’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, where states can receive grants to provide loans to public water systems for drinking water projects, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development’s Water & Environmental Programs which provide grants and low-interest loans to rural communities to develop drinking water and waste disposal systems for communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.
For many small, rural communities, their publicly owned water utility can be their most expensive investment.
First, more work — like that of the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project around education and inequity in access to water infrastructure — is needed is to help identify at-risk communities.
More robust monitoring systems at the state and community level can help to more quickly identify problems in drinking water systems.
A reinvestment in America’s aging and deteriorating rural infrastructure demands financial and technical resources to address these issues in equitable and fair ways.