In the State Series, SERCAP is highlighting recent projects and the work being done in each state in the agency's service region.
Independence Village, a small community of 24 households, has been operating its own water system since the the 1970’s. The Homeowners Association (HOA) contracts with a licensed water operator to check wells and run required water tests, but most repairs are typically handled by one or two volunteers who are familiar with the system. As the system ages, there have been more frequent repairs and, with only one well and pump, the HOA Board began to worry that a breakdown could mean no water at all. When they contacted Charles County to request it take over the system as a county district, they were told that the system had to first be brought up to county standards, the estimate for which was just shy of $2 Million. With only 24 customers, raising the required funding was prohibitive, and the HOA contacted SERCAP for assistance.
It appeared that the HOA’s options were to 1) accept the county estimate and seek funding to accomplish the required repairs; 2) continue patching the system and hope for the best; 3) abandon the system entirely, and seek funding for individual well installation; or 4) have their own estimate and system assessment done and then evaluate the options from there. It was SERCAP’s recommendation that they seek an independent system evaluation and feasibility study before making any final decisions, and work began on a USDA SEARCH grant application by SERCAP’s Delaware-Maryland office. Before that could be submitted, SERCAP was alerted to the existence of the Community Engineering Corps, a group of AWWA member volunteers who provide free engineering services to under-resourced communities. On January 22, 2018, SERCAP submitted an application to the CEC for engineering services to evaluate the water system. SERCAP received word in mid-February of 2018 that the application had been approved, and work would began shortly after.
*Funding for SERCAP’s Regional Program is provided 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, the EPA Private Well Grant, the Solid Waste Grant through USDA Rural Development, and the USDA Rural Development RCDI Grant.