Currently, SERCAP is partnering with two school districts in Virginia, Westmoreland and Tazewell Counties, to pilot the Agua4All Program in the Commonwealth. Agua4All first launched in California in 2014 to address a critical need in local schools and community facilities, the provision of clean, safe drinking water. The Program raises awareness about the importance of safe drinking water, builds community partnerships to install safe water taps in schools and neighborhoods, and develops long-term solutions to rural water quality and access challenges. The Program’s success has led to opportunities to expand the program first into Texas, and now into Virginia, Missouri, and Montana.
Recently, SERCAP’s Essential & Critical Needs Program assisted a low-income family of four (4) in Russell County, VA, to install a new water meter and service-line at their home. The clients have been living in their home for 20 years, and recently began experiencing some difficulty with their water meter and water service-line. As it turns out, the water meter was faulty, and the service-line on their property had been damaged. However, due to their low-income status, the family was unable to afford the cost of replacing the meter and service-line without causing significant financial hardship.
Over the past few years, SERCAP’s Regional Department has worked with the Town of Port Royal in Caroline County, VA, along with other community partners, to move their water system from a dilapidated, fiscally distressed state, to one with new facilities and a management approach that promotes fiscal and operational sustainability. As part of this system overhaul, in the Spring of 2020, SERCAP completed a Rate Study on behalf of the Town, in order to assist them in establishing a more sustainable financial model for their water system. Water rates have been changed from a “Flat Rate” billing system, to a metered, consumption-based system that charges each customer based on their actual water usage. The new rate structure, includes: reserve accounts for debt service, funding for operations, and a new capital improvements account. SERCAP also assisted the Town with developing updated water policies to accompany the change in rate structure, which was adopted at a public hearing in June 2020.
Currently, SERCAP’s Regional Department is working with the Hardy Road Trailer Park water system in Bedford County, VA, to bring them back into compliance with the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Office of Drinking Water’s (ODW) regulations. The Hardy Road Trailer Park water system had been struggling with compliance issues for several years, and by the end of 2018 the system was considered to be a Significant Non-complier in Virginia. In mid-2019, the ODW recommended that the system reach-out to SERCAP for assistance. SERCAP took on the system as a Technical Assistance (TA) project and helped the system in securing a Small Systems Engineering Grant to procure a project engineer to design the necessary system improvements. However, throughout the course of the project, a new solution presented itself. Between the systems history of non-compliance, and the system-owners desire to leave the water business, one of SERCAP’s Technical Assistance Providers (TAPs) determined this would be the ideal time for a system consolidation with the Bedford Regional Water Authority (BRWA).
Recently, SERCAP’s Certified CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) Loan Fund assisted a low-income single woman in Rockingham County, VA, to have a new well drilled at her home. The client had been experiencing difficulties with her existing well, due to tree roots which had grown into the cistern tank, causing significant damage. Despite having the well pumped and the interior of the well completely redone, the well continued leaking, leaving her without adequate and reliable access to potable water in her home. However, due to the client’s low-income status, she was unable to afford the full cost of drilling a new well on her own, without causing serious financial hardship.
Throughout the month of August 2020, SERCAP’s Regional Program successfully continued to deliver online workshops, as part of the agency’s plan to maintain quality services during the COVID-19 public health crisis. SERCAP’s standard slate of services includes the Regional Programs provision of trainings, to Water/Wastewater operators, boards, and community leaders, that provide tools, resources, and knowledge to support efficient, sustainable water/wastewater infrastructure systems that are also positioned to achieve compliance with federal, state, and local regulations.
Currently, SERCAP’s Housing Department is assisting a low-income single woman living in Buckingham County, VA, to complete a substantial reconstruction of her home. The client has lived in her home for over 48 years, and the well and septic system are at least that old. Recently, she began experiencing difficulty with the septic system on the property. The local Health Department determined that the septic system was failing, and she was referred to SERCAP for assistance. Initially, she applied for assistance from SERCAP with her elderly, disabled father, however the father recently passed away. Fortunately, the daughter is also low-income, and was still able to qualify on her own for financial assistance through the Indoor Plumbing & Rehabilitation (IPR) Program, funded by the Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development, allowing SERCAP to continue with the project.
Currently, SERCAP’s Regional Department is working with the Town of Hillsboro in Loudoun County, VA, to conduct an income survey that will potentially allow the Town to qualify for a specialized funding package from USDA’s Rural Utility Service (RUS) for its planned wastewater infrastructure improvement project. The Town is undertaking a large road improvement project, and has determined that pairing its planned water/wastewater infrastructure improvements with the road project, will save the Town money and be less disruptive than conducting a second stand-alone project in the future. The Town is looking to improve its water/wastewater infrastructure quality by completing several water and sewer line installations along the same road, undergoing construction for the road project.
Recently, SERCAP’s Certified CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) Loan Fund assisted a low-income family of three (3) in Augusta County, VA, to connect to the public sewer system. The family was experiencing difficulty with their septic system when the drain-field ceased to function properly, but instead of replacing their failing septic system the family requested that they connect to the public county sewer system. However, due to the clients’ low-income status, they were unable to afford the connection fees and cost of the sewer lateral extension on their own, without causing serious financial hardship.
Recently, SERCAP’s Housing Counseling Program delivered its first online group education workshops, as part of the agency’s plan to continue delivering quality services during the COVID-19 public health crisis. SERCAP is an approved HUD Local Housing Counseling Agency (LHCA), and has served hundreds of clients, since 2012, through a variety of Housing Counseling and group education services and programs.
Recently, SERCAP’s Essential & Critical Needs Program assisted a low-income elderly woman in Henry County, VA, with replacing the water-line at her home. The client has been living in her home for over 30 years, but just recently noticed a terrible leak in her water system. However, due to her low-income status, she was unable to afford the cost of replacing the waterline herself, without experiencing significant financial hardship.
Recently, SERCAP’s Certified CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) Loan Fund assisted a low-income single man living in the City of Roanoke, VA, to make several critical repairs to his home following a house fire. The client’s house was significantly damaged by the fire, however, due to his low-income status, he was unable to afford the necessary repairs on his own without causing serious financial hardship. Fortunately, SERCAP was able to step-in and provide financial assistance, through a low-interest, affordable loan, which covered the full cost of repairing the home.
During this time of uncertainty, SERCAP’s dedicated staff members are continuing to provide Training, Technical, and Financial Assistance to both rural communities and low-to-moderate income (LMI) individuals for water, wastewater, housing, and community development needs. In accordance with the Governor’s orders, SERCAP staff are working remotely, where possible, and providing services via telephone and online web conference software, in order to continue providing critical support.
SERCAP’s Regional Department, in partnership with Spring Point Partners and Mountain Empire Community College, is in the process of establishing a Water/Wastewater Operator Training Program in Virginia. The program will help individuals, looking to establish a new career or change careers to a highly employable field, to meet the requirements for sitting for the state licensure exam to become a water and/or wastewater operator. Currently, the water/wastewater field is experiencing a shortage of qualified individuals to fill operator positions. The majority of the existing slate of water/wastewater operators are nearing retirement, and there is a severe lack of qualified candidates to replace them.
Recently, SERCAP’s Housing Department assisted an elderly woman and her adult daughter living in Buckingham County, VA, to complete several necessary repairs to their home. The elderly woman has lived in her home for over 20 years, and recently began experiencing difficulty with the hot water heater. It had begun leaking, damaging the surrounding floor and wall. In order to correct the problem, the house needed several critical repairs, including: installation of new water heater; replacement of damaged flooring; and installation of new drywall, studs, molding, and trim. However, due to the clients’ low-income status, they were unable to afford the cost of these critical repairs on their own.
Recently, SERCAP’s Essential & Critical Needs Program assisted a low-income veteran in Tazewell County, VA, with the water-lines at his home, which desperately needed to be repaired. However, due to his
low-income status, he was unable to afford the cost of the repairs himself without experiencing significant financial hardship.
Recently, SERCAP’s Certified CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) Loan Fund assisted a Veteran in Warren County, VA, to have a new well drilled at his home. The client’s nearly 50-year-old well went dry, leaving him completely without access to potable water. However, due to the client’s low-income status, he was unable to afford the cost of drilling a new well on his own without causing serious financial hardship. Fortunately, SERCAP was able to step-in and provide financial assistance, through a low-interest (1%), affordable loan, which covered the full cost of drilling the new well. SERCAP’s Loan Fund provided an Individual Household Well Loan in the amount of $9,523.00, and set-up an affordable monthly payment for the client. Now the he once again has reliable access to clean, safe drinking water in his home.
Recently, SERCAP’s Housing Department assisted a low-income family of three (3) in Caroline County, VA, by replacing their failing septic system. The clients have lived in the home for over 30 years, and recently began experiencing difficulty with their septic system. They needed to have both a new alternative septic system and an updated electrical box installed, in order for the system to run properly. However, due to the clients’ low-income status, they were unable to afford the cost of the new system on their own.
On Tuesday, February 4, 2020 SERCAP’s Regional staff, in partnership with the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Office of Drinking Water (ODW), delivered a day-long training session entitled Rural and Small Systems Sustainable Utility Management Workshop, to the Mayor and Town Council of the Town of Monterey in Highland County, VA. The Town operates both the water and wastewater treatment facilities that serve its citizens and a number of county residents in close proximity. The Town’s relatively new, but motivated Town Council is facing several issues, including: aging infrastructure, limited resources, and a history of limited action in addressing these challenges. SERCAP and VDH: ODW have been working with the Town to implement both policy and operational changes, and to apply for funding.