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United States Environmental Protection Agency
Small Communities
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Small Communities

Protecting public health and improving water quality are the major goals of the Clean Water Act.  Small Communities, Indian Tribes and Colonias often experience difficulty in achieving these goals.  Many communities and tribes could avoid costly construction projects through improved management skills, adequate financing, appropriate technology, and better wastewater treatment system operation and maintenance.

The Office of Wastewater Management provides water and wastewater services to tribal and community leaders through its "Small Communities Team."  The team partners with organizations to manage programs of  technical assistance, financial assistance, and education & training to small communities and Indian tribes

EPA has created a site for onsite/decentralized wastewater systems that provides information on management, funding, technology, and public outreach to assist small communities when using or considering decentralized systems to manage their wastewater needs.

These programs are summarized below:

Wastewater Programs

 Financial Assistance
State Revolving Fund (SRF)
Non-Point 319 Grant Program
Decentralized Wastewater Systems
Colonias Program

Technical Assistance/Message Board
Rural Community Programs (RCAP)
Small Community Outreach & Education Network (SCORE)
On-Site Technical Assistance 104(g)
Message Board
Exit EPA Disclaimer
Education and Training/Publications
National Environmental Training Center for Small Communities(NETCSC)
National Small Flows Clearing House (NSFC)
Youth & The Environment Training & Employment Program
Small Communities Publications
      Related Programs
USDA/Rural Utility Service
Indian Tribes
Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds (OWOW)
Local Government Environmental Assistance Network (LGEAN)
Exit EPA Disclaimer


Technical Assistance

Programs minimally provide advice, assistance, and training pertaining to the installation, operation, and maintenance for small community wastewater management.

RCAP Exit EPA Disclaimer addresses management, financing, construction and the Clean Water Act compliance needs of wastewater treatment, collection, and disposal systems in small communities. 
SCORE helps small communities provide self-sufficient wastewater systems through technology, financial management, pollution prevention, and public education. 

The On-Site Technical Assistance104(g) Program provides no-cost, over-the-shoulder operation and maintenance, financial, and technical assistance to municipal wastewater treatment plant operators.

Message Board Exit EPA Disclaimer will allow small communities to communicate with each other.  Furthermore, the bulletin board will supply a question and answer forum to better serve the customers of the small communities team.

Financial Assistance

Funds are provided to rural areas and towns with populations not in excess of 10,000.  Financial assistance is available to states, municipalities, special purpose districts, Indian tribes, and corporations not operated for profit.  Loans for individuals can also be acquired through banks and other eligible lenders.

SRF provides low interest loans for water and wastewater facilities assisting water quality projects. 

Non-Point 319 Grant Program goal is to support 20-30 watershed projects nationwide that meet a minimum set of project planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation requirements designed to improve water quality.

Hardship Grants provides assistance to rural areas with a population fewer than 3,000 to plan, design and construct wastewater facilities.

Colonias Program provides assistance to low-income, generally unincorporated communities along the U.S.-Mexico border which lack basic infrastructure.

Education & Training

Education programs provide training to small communities, in the areas of wastewater operation and trouble-shooting.

NETCSC supports environmental trainers who work with small communities to improve drinking water, wastewater, and solid waste services. 

NSFC provides national information on collection and distribution systems, this information helps small communities meet their wastewater treatment needs. 

The Youth and the Environment Training & Employment Program provides under-privileged high school students with an awareness of job opportunities in the environment.  This program allows for hands-on training in day to day operations of a wastewater treatment plant.

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