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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $3 million to the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service to provide training and technical assistance to small public drinking water systems nationwide to help ensure citizens in these communities have clean, safe drinking water.

The grant-funded initiative will target 115 water systems that serve fewer than 10,000 people, with a goal of reaching out to 1,725 participants during the next year.

“The training and assistance will be tailored to the specific needs of each small public water system and provided on-site at their location,” said Ron Peddy, Director of TEEX’s Infrastructure Training & Safety Institute. In addition, TEEX plans to hold community outreach activities and develop a website for distributing information regarding the Safe Drinking Water Act.

According to the EPA, the grant will help provide training and tools to improve small system operations and management practices, promoting sustainability and supporting EPA’s mission to protect public health and the environment.

“Goals include increasing competency and compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and other regulations, enhancing understanding of water testing protocols and proper water system operations, and improving performance,” Peddy said.

More than 97 percent of the nation’s 157,000 public water systems serve fewer than 10,000 people, and more than 80 percent of these systems serve fewer than 500 people, according to EPA data. These small systems often face challenges in providing reliable drinking water and wastewater services that meet federal and state regulations, including a lack of financial resources, aging infrastructure, management limitations and high staff turnover.

“Small systems form the backbone of our nation’s public water system, and it is a priority for EPA to help them to meet water quality standards and provide clean water to communities,” said Nancy Stoner, EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water, in announcing the awards. “This funding and technical assistance is part of EPA’s continuing efforts to promote sustainability and public health protection for communities served by small systems.”

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