MAP is pleased to announce a partnership between MAP and our RCAP sister organization, Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) to provide technical assistance to communities in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming starting October 1, 2012. The high quality of technical assistance will continue to be the same, as MAP staff currently serving these states are now RCAC employees. This collaboration with MAP’s regional partner organization was developed to allow expanded support to these rural communities in this time of decreasing resources.
MAP looks forward to working more closely with RCAC and all the RCAP regional partners to improve and expand our technical assistance for rural communities!
A great article from our sister organization, RCAP Solutions.
RCAP Solutions News – Scott Mueller, Director of Community Resources and Chief Rural Affairs Officer
In these challenging times, communities at the local level have to do more with less. Largely due to the federal funding crunch, communities across the northeast are struggling to maintain their current way of life. With federal funding cuts occurring and more potentially on the way, more pressure is being put on state programs, which in turn push the responsibilities down to the county, town, and village levels. In addition, job loss and housing foreclosure are on the rise, leaving residents in small rural communities strapped to pay bills and provide the necessary revenues to support their water and wastewater systems.
A current trend amongst localities is to search out ways to bolster their local economies, provide steady jobs, and sustain their quality of life. Many are finding that there is a direct link between economic development and infrastructure. Most businesses require potable water and wastewater disposal facilities in order to operate. Larger employers often require much more, including transportation links, 3 phase power, and telecommunications trunks. With less funding available at all levels, establishing or maintaining these facilities is becoming even more challenging.
RCAP Solutions’ Technical Assistance Program and its experienced TA providers know this current economic trend all too well. Almost all of the 120+ communities we work with are experiencing financially difficult times. As we ramp up our 2013 program year, we are pleased to be able to provide services again in our core areas, even though we have also experienced the impact of funding reduction and as communities move to become more self reliant and sustainable and less reliant on the state and federal government.
Many of our base level services are free to the community, depending on the level of eligibility. However, we will still offer services to those seeking assistance under our Direct Contracting program, which can often blend grant-based services for a nominal fee.
This year, in conjunction with USDA Rural Development, the US Health and Human Services, and the US Environmental Protection Agency, we will be focused on assisting communities through these difficult times with on-site technical assistance and training in a number of areas. These include project and asset management, funding acquisition, and education and training programs geared towards giving communities the tools they need to get through these fiscally challenging times.
While things are tight on the funding front, there are many opportunities that communities may take advantage of that can help them to operate their systems and maintain water quality – all while doing more with less.
To view the blog in its entirety, click here.
The Laura Jane Musser Fund wants to encourage collaborative and participatory efforts among citizens in rural communities that will help to strengthen their towns and regions in a number of civic areas including, but not limited to, economic development, business preservation, arts and humanities, public space improvements, and education. Their Rural Initiative Program has funds available to communities in Colorado, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wyoming. Deadline to apply is November 7, 2012, and funding decisions will be announced in February, 2013. To learn more, please visit their website: http://bit.ly/pviUTm.
Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced funding for rural water projects to create jobs and improve rural water and wastewater systems in 16 states including, AR, CA, IA, ID, IL, KS, KY, MI, MN, MO, ND, NJ, NY, SC, VA, and WV. The $54 million in loans and $19 million in grants are being provided by USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to help communities build and upgrade water systems. “These improvements to rural water infrastructure will provide reliable access to clean water, improving public health while creating jobs that strengthen rural economies, ” Vilsack said.
For the full press release and additional information click here.
An article by Jeremy Dennison recently published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune brings to light the fact that “Most sewer and sanitation systems last between 30 and 50 years. Many of Minnesota’s are as old or older, and they could fail at any point.” The work that MAP does in Minnesota communities, as well as our eight other states, deals directly with helping to fix this very issue. Why wait for these systems to fail? Let’s act now. Click here to read the article in its entirety, and if you’re a small community in need of assistance, visit the MAP website to see how we can help.
Mathematical calculations can be one of the most challenging, but also most important, tasks performed by a water or wastewater operator. With Internet-enabled computers available in an increasing number of facilities, operators can lean on calculation tools to double-check their math. A recent SmallWaterSupply.org blog post features a list of math tools for small systems that was put together by the Missouri Rural Water Association. In addition to some interactive tools, it also features applications for your Smartphone. Check it out here!
A recent news release announces that Engineers at Oregon State University have made a breakthrough in the performance of microbial fuel cells that can produce electricity directly from wastewater, opening the door to a future in which waste treatment plants not only will power themselves, but will sell excess electricity. Researchers say this could eventually change the way that wastewater is treated all over the world, replacing the widely used “activated sludge” process that has been in use for almost a century. The new approach would produce significant amounts of electricity while effectively cleaning the wastewater. This could have an impact around the world, save a great deal of money, provide better water treatment and promote energy sustainability. The findings have just been published in Energy and Environmental Science, a professional journal.
Do you find this as exciting as we do? We would love to hear your comments!