Press Release

EPA, USDA Roll Out Key Commitments to Critical Rural Water Infrastructure in Underserved Communities

Mel Mendez
mmendez@nrdc.org, 212-727-4442

LOWNDES COUNTY, AL – Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan, United States Department of Agriculture Secretary (USDA) Tom Vilsack, and White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu launched the Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative today–a commitment to improve water infrastructure in rural communities across the U.S. The plan, which includes historic funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will be piloted in 11 communities where residents lack basic wastewater management.

The announcement follows an inter-agency tour of several homes impacted by broken or failed waste management systems in Lowndes County, led by Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice (CREEJ) Founder and NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)  Board Member Catherine Coleman Flowers. Lowndes County–a predominantly Black community where nearly 22% of residents live below the poverty line–has lacked efficient community-wide sanitation for years, resulting in wastewater backing into and polluting lawns, bathtubs, local creeks, and more.

The following is a reaction from Dawone Robinson, Director of Southeast Government Affairs at NRDC:

“Every person in America, regardless of race, has the right to sanitation that is safe, climate-resilient, affordable, and dignified. Today’s announcement by the EPA and USDA and the ongoing work by Catherine Flowers and CREEJ will bring new resources to communities that have been burdened by wastewater pollution for too long. This is a significant commitment in our water and sanitation, and NRDC will continue to work with state and local partners to protect the health and safety of their communities and the environment.”

Additional Resources:

●      Communities of Color in the United States Disproportionately Lack Access to Adequate Sanitation (August ‘22)

●      It’s 2018—Alabamans Shouldn’t Have to Worry About Hookworms (July ‘18)

●      Sanitation and Wastewater in Rural Communities in the United States (May ‘19)

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NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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