Currently, SERCAP’s Regional Program is assisting several communities throughout the commonwealth of Virginia to create, update, and/or recreate their Emergency Response Plans (ERPs) and Security Vulnerability Assessments (SVAs). Every three years, Community Water Systems across the Commonwealth are required to certify their ERPs and SVAs with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Maintaining up-to-date ERPs and SVAs is a water/wastewater utility best practice, however, USDA Rural Development (RD) also requires that systems have updated certified ERPs and SVAs to apply for USDA RD funding. In addition to the USDA RD requirements, the preparation of ERPs and SVAs helps to improve the management of the utility and will increase the system’s ability to respond to emergencies.
Recently, SERCAP’s Regional Technical Assistance Providers (TAPs) have assisted multiple community systems throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia by preparing their ERPs and SVAs. Most of these smaller water/wastewater systems do not have the capacity to prepare these documents on their own, and must rely on engineering firms or technical assistance providers to prepare the documents for them. SERCAP’s assistance enables these utilities to maintain compliance with state and federal regulations and keep their emergency preparedness up-to-date.
In the long-term, the positive impact of SERCAP providing this specific Technical Assistance service to these small systems is the maintained Quality of Life for the communities and their residents through the continued provision of affordable clean, safe drinking water and environmentally sound wastewater solutions. Keeping these small systems up-to-date with best practices and in compliance with Federal and State regulations allows them to continue providing service to their customers, which in turn maintains the Environmental Health and Economic Self-sufficiency of the communities and their residents. Maintaining affordable water/wastewater facilities allows the residents to, 1) maintain their Environmental Health by decreasing their risk of waterborne illnesses, which can occur when exposed to unsafe drinking water or faulty wastewater systems, and 2) maintain their Economic Self-sufficiency by minimizing the financial burden that can occur when utility costs are not affordable. Additionally, the Economic Self-sufficiency of the communities-at-large will be maintained, or even improved, by keeping the systems in compliance, preventing the systems and/or the Counties from being fined for non-compliance, and enabling them to seek additional funding.
*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. Additionally, all of SERCAP’s programs in Virginia, are leveraged by a Budget Appropriation from the Virginia General Assembly, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD).