(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that will help rural water systems face the challenges of aging infrastructure, workforce shortages, increasing costs, limited management capacity and declining rate bases. Through this MOA, USDA and EPA will conduct joint activities to help rural water systems continue to provide access to safe drinking water.
“We are pleased to continue this important work with EPA to support rural water and waste infrastructure,” USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator Chad Rupe said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to working collaboratively with our federal partners to help rural systems thrive and serve their communities because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
David Ross, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, added, “Rural water systems play a key role in the lives of all Americans. Investing resources in rural system infrastructure and management supports EPA’s goal of ensuring that rural communities have the infrastructure necessary to become sustainable, protect public health and support the rural economy.”
To ensure that rural systems have a strong foundation to address 21st-century challenges, this MOA formalizes EPA and USDA’s ongoing collaboration to help implement innovative strategies and tools so rural water systems can achieve long-term sustainability.
This MOA focuses on four key areas. First, EPA and USDA will continue supporting sustainability and resilience by providing resources such as training and education to incorporate these strategies into utility management. Second, the agencies will continue to support water system partnerships by educating communities and utilities on the array of tools that are available to increase sustainability. Third, the MOA will also support the water sector workforce, in part through promotional initiatives to raise awareness of rural water sector careers.
Finally, EPA and USDA will continue supporting compliance with drinking water and clean water regulations, including by making these rural systems a funding priority.
This action supports EPA’s 50th anniversary celebration and its February theme of protecting America’s waters – including surface water protection, safe drinking water and water infrastructure investments.