The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced a national partnership to protect Americans’ health by improving rural drinking water and wastewater systems.

According to the EPA, small water and sewage treatment facilities with limited funding and resources face challenges due to rising costs and aging equipment and pipes. The EPA says this agreement will send federal resources to support communities that need assistance and promote job training to help put people to work while addressing the growing workforce shortage in the water industry.

“The agreement we are announcing today represents an exciting partnership between USDA and EPA that will greatly enhance our investments in water systems and also in developing a skilled workforce to oversee them,” said Jonathan Adelstein, administrator for USDA’s Rural Utilities Service, in a prepared statement. “By working together, our agencies will strengthen their capacity to provide rural residents with safe, clean, well-managed water and wastewater systems for years to come.”

Under the agreement, the EPA and USDA will work together to promote jobs by targeting specific audiences, providing training for new water careers and coordinating outreach efforts that will bring greater public visibility to the workforce needs of the industry, and develop a new generation of trained water professionals. The EPA and USDA will also facilitate the exchange of successful recruitment and training strategies among stakeholders including states and water industries.

The agencies will also help rural utilities improve current operations and encourage development of long-term water quality improvement plans, says the EPA. The plans will include developing sustainable management practices to cut costs and improve performance.

To learn more about the EPA-USDA agreement, click here
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