Recently, SERCAP’s Facilities Development Program awarded a substantial grant to the Nelson County Service Authority, to support a current wastewater treatment plant project in the community of Schuyler in Nelson County, Virginia. The Nelson County Service Authority delivers water and sewer (wastewater) service to several communities in Nelson County, including the low-income community of Schuyler, VA. Schuyler’s community sewer system is very small, serving only 44 connections, and consisting of 10,000 linear feet of gravity collection lines, an influent wastewater pump station, and a 25,000 gallons-per-day (gpd) treatment facility. As a result of its small size and the low-income status of the community’s residents, the facility has not had the funds to provide regular maintenance and upgrades, causing it to fall into significant disrepair. Due to this lack of consistent maintenance, and the facility’s advanced age (of approximately 70 years), the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued multiple Notices of Violation to the facility citing unsafe levels of E. Coli and Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) exceedances. Ultimately, Schuyler’s Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) needs to be completely replaced.
The full cost of replacing the community’s WWTP and collection system, including both engineering and construction services, will exceed $4.3 million. Approximately $3.1 million (about 72%) of the project cost will be provided by a grant from USDA Rural Development. The balance of approximately $1.2 million (about 28%) will be financed through a loan, a burden of which will be placed on the system’s customers. In 2019, the Nelson County Service Authority raised the sewer-rate to $54.10 per month to assist with repaying the project loan, potentially causing financial hardship for some customers, and making another rate increase untenable. To offset some of the projects costs and prevent the need for another rate increase, SERCAP stepped-in and awarded the Nelson County Service Authority a $100,000.00 grant through the agency’s Facilities Development Program.
Without SERCAP’s Facilities Development Program, and other similar services, many low-income households and communities would be forced to go without such necessities as reliable access to environmentally sound wastewater disposal solutions, clean drinking water, indoor plumbing, safe and affordable housing, community development and infrastructure needs, water/ wastewater infrastructure solutions, and more. It is important to remember that even in the United States in the 21st Century; there are those who do not have reliable access to clean, safe drinking water, environmentally sound septic facilities, and affordable housing. In order to help SERCAP continue to provide assistance to both the individuals and communities in need, please consider making a donation to SERCAP’s Water Life! Fund!
*Funding for SERCAP’s Regional Department is made possible by the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Office of Community Services’ (OCS) Grant, USDA RD’s Technitrain Program, the Drinking Water Compliance Grant through the EPA, and the EPA Private Well Grant. SERCAP’s Facilities Development Grant Program is made possible by a Budget Appropriation from the Virginia General Assembly, which is administered by the Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD). Additionally, all of SERCAP’s programs in Virginia, are leveraged by the Budget Appropriation from the Virginia General Assembly, administered by DHCD.