In 2018, SERCAP’s Regional Program in North Carolina delivered on-site training to Solid Waste Recycling Center employees in Ashe County, NC. Ashe County is a small county in the northwest corner of NC, and has a population of approximately 27,000 residents. The County has its own Sub-title “D” lined Landfill, and its own manned recycling centers. The County employs 22 part-time workers to run these Solid Waste facilities, though many are of retirement age. The existing landfill facility has approximately five more years of capacity, and the County hopes to expand it on the existing property.
Recently, SERCAP’s Housing Department was able to assist an elderly gentleman in Buckingham County, VA, to replace the heater in his home. The client has lived in his home for 31 years, and recently began experiencing some difficulties with his heater. He reported that his old gas heater was difficult to light and it would not remain on, causing him to periodically lose heat. However, due to being low-income he could not afford to replace the heater on his own, without experiencing financial hardship.
Each year, SERCAP hosts the annual Water is Life! Event to recognize the year’s accomplishments in the fields of water, wastewater, housing, and community development, and to raise public awareness of water issues and major challenges facing rural America. While every year is an important occasion, 2019's Water Is Life! marks a significant milestone in SERCAP's history. This year, SERCAP is celebrating 50 Years of bringing reliable access to clean, safe drinking water; environmentally sound wastewater facilities; affordable housing that is warm, safe, and dry; and sustainable community development solutions to small, rural communities and low-to-moderate income individuals throughout the Roanoke Valley, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the southeastern United States.
Recently, SERCAP’s Essential & Critical Needs Grant Program partnered with the agency’s certified CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) Loan Fund to assist a low-income family of six (two adults and four children) in Warren County, VA, to replace their individual household well. The family had been living in their home for just over seven (7) years, and recently they began experiencing difficulties with their well. For example, they began noticing that the water supply was decreasing to the point where they could not even fill-up their bathtub with water. This of course, meant that they did not have enough water each day for their family of six (6). However, due to their low-income status, the family was unable to afford the cost of replacing the well on their own.
As previously reported, each year Community Water Systems across the Commonwealth of Virginia are required to complete and distribute a Water Quality Report, or Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), which provides utility customers with information about their drinking water. The federally mandated reports contain information, including: 1) source of the utility’s water, and the type of treatment it receives, if any, 2) results of all required chemical analysis, including lead and copper results, and an explanation of them, including their probable sources and potential health effects, if any, 3) violations, if any, of state or federal waterworks regulations, and what has been done to address them, 4) reporting of any unregulated contaminant monitoring, 5) a cross-connection control survey, 6) information regarding source water protections and tips for conserving water, and 7) contact information for the system’s owner/operator.
Recently, SERCAP’s Essential & Critical Needs Program assisted a low-income couple in Tazewell County, VA, to install a new tap and meter, so they could restore running water to their home. The couple had been living in the same house for a little over 26 years, when their individual household well went out, disrupting their water source, and leaving them without functional indoor plumbing.
Recently, SERCAP’s Housing Department received approval to begin a new project in Montgomery County, VA, in order to help a low-income couple (one of whom is disabled) to make ADA (American Disabilities Act) design improvements to their bathroom. The current bathroom has proven to be a safety hazard, since one of the clients has fallen several times. The project was referred to SERCAP by the New River Valley Disability Resource Center, and SERCAP’s Housing Staff worked with the internal committee, that oversees Program Income projects, to get the project approved.
A key element of SERCAP’s Mission is to provide access to safe, clean drinking water throughout the southeastern United States. Water quality plays a huge role in this; poor water quality is a direct cause of communities not having access to safe, clean water. And oftentimes, environmental factors are what lead to poor water quality. Understanding what these factors are, how humankind impacts them, and possible solutions is key in fulfilling SERCAP's Mission.
In 2019, SERCAP turns 50 and will celebrate 50 years of providing training, technical, and financial assistance to rural communities and low-income individuals for water, wastewater, housing, and community development needs throughout the Southeast United States. As SERCAP approaches this landmark anniversary, the organization is looking to increase both its presence and its impact across the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Southeast United States. Now, more than ever, SERCAP is seeing a great need for services as water and wastewater infrastructure systems continue to age, and water/wastewater operators reach the age of retirement without an adequate crop of newly trained operators to take their places, especially at rural water/wastewater systems.
As March 2019 rapidly approaches, SERCAP’s VFC Alternative Break Program is gearing up for Spring Break Week 2019! Thus far, SERCAP has confirmed that approximately 347 to 372 students from 12+ Colleges and Universities, including: College of the Holy Cross, East Carolina University, Indiana State University, Michigan State University, Penn State, Rochester Institute of Technoloty, Rutgers University, Southern New Hampshire University, St. Joseph’s University, University of Delaware, Virginia Military Institue, and Wake Tech Community College, will be participating in this year’s Spring Break Week of Service.
After years of struggle, approximately 28 low-to-moderate income homeowners of the Hobson community’s Upper Village, located in the City of Suffolk, VA, will be able to connect to the City’s public water system, thanks to substantial grant assistance from SERCAP. As previously stated in an update from January 1, 2018, SERCAP has been working with the residents of Hobson’s Upper Village, over the course of several years, in order to help them gain reliable access to clean, safe drinking water by fully restoring stable water service to the community. The Hobson Artesian Well Association, which provided water for the community for years, has struggled for some time with issues related to capacity and compliance with state and federal drinking water regulations.
On Wednesday, November 28, 2018, SERCAP’s Virginia State Manager participated in the Equitable Economies Panel Discussion, as an invited Panelist, at the 2nd Annual Advancing the Human Condition Symposium at Virginia Tech. The Equitable Economies Panel focused primarily on Water/Wastewater Infrastructure both in the United States and abroad, covering specific topics, including: contamination, aging and failing infrastructure, accessibility issues, disaster recovery of infrastructure systems, and the link between access to water/wastewater facilities and poverty.
In the States Series, SERCAP is highlighting recent projects and the work the agency is doing in each state in its service region.
SERCAP’s VFC Alternative Break Program is a community service program which partners with Colleges/Universities and Community Host Sites to match civic-minded Student Volunteers with engaging service-learning opportunities during traditional school breaks. This program year, during their Fall Break in October 2018, students from Emory & Henry College travelled north to Fishersville in Augusta County, VA, to team-up with the Alleghany Mountain Institute (AMI) in order to immerse themselves in a truly grass-roots service-learning experience.
Currently, SERCAP is providing Housing Rehabilitation Specialist Services to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Construction Improvement Grant (CIG) Project for the East Atlantic Street Neighborhood in the City of Emporia, VA. SERCAP was selected as the Housing Rehabilitation Specialist for the project in late 2016, and has been diligently working to complete the rehabilitation of 16 investor-owned housing units and two owner-occupied housing units for the past two+ years.
SERCAP’s VFC Alternative Break Program is a service program which partners with Colleges/Universities and Community Host Sites to match civic-minded Student Volunteers with engaging service-learning opportunities during traditional school breaks. This year during their Fall Break, students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Massachusetts, travelled to the Roanoke Valley to team-up with Lick Run Farm and the Rescue Mission in order to provide a variety of services.
Recently, SERCAP’s Housing Department completed an Indoor Plumbing & Rehabilitation (IPR) collaborative project in Fluvanna County, VA. The client, a low-income disabled gentleman, was referred to SERCAP back in September of 2017 by the Fluvanna Housing Foundation, after he experienced difficulty with his well and septic system. Due to the run-down condition of the house and the client’s qualification as Extremely-low Income under the HUD Income Guidelines, the project qualified as a Substantial Reconstruction. However, the cost estimates for the project far exceeded the Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development’s (DHCD) cost limits for a Substantial Reconstruction under the IPR Program.
“Water is Life!” is our motto here at SERCAP, and we serve our communities by helping bring clean water to those without it. For many communities, access to clean water begins and ends with a functional well. One of our main initiatives is private well assessment and loans to repair/replace individual household wells.