Events

Upcoming Events

  • CIO & CRC Joint Conference                                 March 20-23,2024
  • AL/MS Water Conference                                       April 7 – 10, 2024

Past Events

  • CARWW Fall ’23 Meeting                                     November 10, 2023
  • NOWRA Mega-Conference                                 October 22-25, 2023
  • UNC Water and Health Conference                  October 23-27, 2023
  • WEFTEC Conference                                            Sept 30-Oct 4, 2023
  • Alabama Water Resources Conference         September 6-8, 2023
  • ASCE International LID Conference                        August 6-9, 2023
  • AWRA 2023 Summer Conference                            July 17-19, 2023
  • Engineering Project Organization Conf                 June 20-23, 2023
  • AEESP 2023 Conference                                          June 20-23, 2023
  • AL/FL Joint Technical Training Conference           May 23-25,2023
  • Consortium Meeting # 9                                                    May 5, 2023
  • National Water Policy Fly-In                                     April 25-26, 2023
  • Gulf-South Summit                                                     April 12-14, 2023
  • AL/MS Water Joint Annual Conference                     April 2-5, 2023
  • UN 2023 Water Conference                                  March 22-24, 2023
  • Alabama Water Rally 2023                                    March 24-26, 2023
  • AL Rural Water Conference                                    March 19-22,2023
  • 2023 AOWA Annual Trade Show                         March 16-17, 2023
  • Water/Wastewater Infrastructure Workshop       January 26, 2023
  • NOWRA Onsite Wastewater Conference           Oct 30-Nov 2, 2022
  • UNC Water and Health Conference                  October 24-28, 2022
  • WEFTEC Conference                                             October 8-12, 2022
  • Consortium Meeting # 8                                             October 7, 2022
  • Rethinking Water Conference                            September 20, 2022
  • Alabama Water Resources Conference         September 7-9, 2022
  • 2022 ASCE/APWA Summer Meeting                     July 13-15, 2022
  • Consortium Meeting # 7                                                 May 19, 2022
  • ASCE ERWI Congress                                                   June  5-8, 2022
  • Alabama/Mississippi Water Conference              April 10-13, 2022
  • Delta Summit                                                           March 29-31, 2022
  • WEF Public Health/Water Conference                March 21-24, 2022
  • IWSH Community Plumbing Challenge              March 14-18, 2022
  • AGU Fall Meeting                                             December 13-17, 2021
  • NOWRA Conference                                            October 17-20, 2021
  • UNC Water & Health Conference                           October 4-8, 2021
  • Consortium Meeting # 6                                             October 1, 2021
  • DigDeep DWIC Convening                                        August 2-6, 2021
  • UNLEASH Hack                                                                June 12, 2021
  • UNLEASH Hack                                                                  June 5, 2021
  • EPA: Innovative Technologies Webinar                        May 26, 2021
  • DigDeep DWIC Convening                                                     April 2021
  • Consortium Meeting #5                                            February 6, 2021
  • DigDeep DWIC Launch Event                                  January 14, 2021

Meeting Minutes

Consortium for Alabama Rural Water and Wastewater Management

Meeting #: 10

Location: Remote via Zoom

Date: November 10, 2023

Time: 10:00 AM

Attendees:

Name

Description

Aaron Blackwell

University of Alabama

Allen Bowen

United States Department of Agriculture

Amal Bakchan

Texas A&M University

Amy Hudson Chatham

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Andrea Stowell

Lixil

Anuradha Goswami

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Barbara VanScoy

Heron Foundation

Becca Etter

Auburn University

Bo Tucker

Orenco

Christi Robinson

Schoel Engineering Co.

Christopher Spencer

Black Belt Community Foundation

Connor Bailey

Auburn University

Corinne Baroni

University of Alabama

Daniel Yeh

University of South Florida

Dennis F Hallahan

Infiltrator

Emily McGlohn

Auburn Rural Studio

Evan Wilks

University of South Alabama

Helenor Bell

HT Bell Connections/Town of Yellow Bluff

Hideki Tamura

Lixil

John Kinney

Black Warrior Riverkeeper

Jackson Parr

Water Finance Exchange

Janice Robinson

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Jasmine S Kennedy

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Jessie Curl

Auburn University

Jillian Maxcy-Brown

University of Alabama

John Clanton

Acuantia

Julie Olson

University of Alabama

Karen Guthrie

 

Kevin White

University of South Alabama

Lacey Christian

University of South Alabama

Mallory Jordan

Auburn University

Mark Barnett

Auburn University

Mark Elliott

University of Alabama

Megan Lott

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Mike Webster

Project Manager at Lixil

Mostafa Firouzjaei

University of Alabama

Pete Sabo

Business Development Manager at Hydro-Action

Portia Shepherd

Black Belt Women Rising

Rachel Chai

University of South Alabama

Robert Bair

University of South Florida

Robyn Fischer

IWSH

Ron Dawsey

Alabama Department of Environmental Management

Sarah Silliman

Columbia World Projects

Scott Phillips

Waggoner Engineering

Stacy McKean

Grant Management

Stephanie Rogers

Auburn University

Taka Takanori Idota

Lixil

Upmanu Lall

Columbia Water Center Director

Victoria Miller

Alabama Rivers Alliance

Wade Burcham

5020 Engineering Resources Group

 

Minutes:

Agenda Item: Welcome and Introduction

Presenter: Dr Kevin White

Discussion:

Dr. Kevin White welcomed everyone and expressed that we hope to make meaningful changes to the way wastewater is managed in the Alabama Black Belt and beyond.

 

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Agenda Item: Overview of Consortium

Presenter: Dr. Kevin White

Discussion:

 

Kevin White provided an overview of the origins of the Consortium for Alabama Rural Water and Wastewater Management (CARWW), which was established by Drs. White and Elliott with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), congressional representatives, Lixil, and others. Thirty-two attendees were on the call at the start of the meeting. This meeting fell on a federal holiday which limited the presence of government employees.

 

A PDF copy of the meeting agenda was shared in the Zoom chat. Kevin White quickly reviewed the agenda.

 

Kevin White shared CARWW’s successes since its establishment in 2018. National successes include more recognition of the problem; funding has been made available through the federal and state governments (ADEM) for small, rural, underserved communities; Senators Booker and Tuberville have added funding for rural decentralized wastewater programs (including onsite systems) in an amendment to a bill (not yet passed); EPA, USDA, and others have put together programs for technical assistance for small communities; there are private and non-profit companies assisting small communities to prepare applications for funding; workforce development has also come up in recent years (there are not enough water and wastewater operators nationally) and the EPA is looking to address this; Dr. Jillian Maxcy-Brown has completed an affordability study; and the How-To Guide to help small communities implement systems and secure funding is near completion. Local successes include ADEM providing funds via SRF/BIL/ARPA to the Black Belt; ADPH initiating rule changes to allow for discharge of treated effluent in oils with soils that will no accept water; the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) have completed health studies (and have not found any evidence in multi-county samples that indicate the presence of hookworm); the University of Alabama (UA) and UNC have been testing waters in/around the Black Belt to provide a baseline for comparisons once some treatment systems are installed in the area; BBUWP have installed close to 100 onsite wastewater systems in Lowndes County and will be expanding to other areas; UAB and CARWW sponsored a Water and Wastewater Equity symposium October 19,2023 with 75-100 participants; the University of South Alabama (USA) has completed preliminary wastewater needs studies for each Alabama Black Belt county; USA has tested several onsite systems for performance and cost; and a decentralized cluster demonstration is underway in Newbern, AL.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Agenda Item: Overall Wastewater Infrastructure Needs

Presenter: Dr Kevin White

Discussion:

 

Kevin White reviewed the CARWW “Plan Forward” including identifying and expanding service areas of existing municipal sewer systems (they need to apply for SRF, ARPA, BIL funding), identifying and establishing affordable decentralized cluster system models, developing and testing cost-effective individual onsite wastewater systems, identifying and evaluating applicable management structures (our biggest issue at this point), and seeking regulatory changes (changes have been implemented).

 

Kevin White reviewed the needs regarding municipal systems including identifying systems and encouraging them to apply for available funding to expand/upgrade their capacity/performance capability. The needs regarding decentralized wastewater cluster systems include identifying population clusters of 90+ homes (partially complete) and using cost-effective technologies (STEP sewer). For onsite systems, the most cost-effective methods of wastewater need to be identified and installed for all areas outside of identified clusters and existing service areas.

 

Kevin White reviewed an example map from the Marengo County wastewater needs assessments which shows municipal systems, identified population clusters, and soil ratings for traditional onsite wastewater systems.

 

Kevin White also reviewed the Newbern decentralized demonstration which will hopefully serve 140 homes and demonstrate affordable technologies like STEP collection and modular treatment with reasonable operation and maintenance costs.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Agenda Item: Identification and Costing of Cluster Systems

Presenter: Lacey Christian

Discussion:

 

Lacey Christian stated that wastewater needs assessment methods were modeled after Civil SE needs assessments that were performed for 5 counties in the Alabama Black Belt. Preliminary needs assessments have been completed for all 16 counties and the Civil SE needs assessments are being updated to reflect changes that were made.

 

An example map of Choctaw County was shown with soil conditions for septic tanks and drain fields (the map shows mostly “very limited” soils), estimated service areas for existing municipal sewer systems (exact service boundaries are unknown due to a lack of data availability, and service boundaries are assumed as city limits for the needs studies), and population clusters. Population clusters were located using satellite imagery and are defined as 85+ homes (the value at which clusters become financially reasonable versus onsite systems) with a density of 25+ homes per square mile and a maximum radius of 5 miles. Clusters that are closer to an existing municipal sewer system can use STEP systems to connect to the existing system. Clusters further away from existing systems can use STEP collection with an individual modular treatment system.

 

An example map of Choctaw County was shown that identifies which clusters are able to connect to an existing system and which would need individual systems. This is the “ideal solution” and some municipal systems would need to upgrade the existing system in order to handle the additional wastewater flows.

 

Currently, only 51% of residents in the Alabama Black Belt have managed sewer service. This study has identified nearly 200 population clusters fitting the predefined criteria. If service is provided to these clusters, an estimated 80% or more of residents will have managed sewer service. The estimated cost of providing service to all identified clusters is estimated at $843,000,000. These estimates may not retain accuracy due to inflation, but this is currently the “best guess” at what it would cost to address wastewater issues throughout the Black Belt with these methods.

 

Kevin White reiterated that we have identified roughly 200 clusters and called attention to the map to show which clusters are able to tie into which municipalities. He states that the question now is who will manage these systems. Do the existing municipalities manage nearby clusters or should a different type of management entity exist? We need a long-term financially sustainable management system. We are currently exploring the question of how to best provide operation and maintenance to these proposed systems.

 

John Clanton with Acuantia asked if we have explored how the ongoing maintenance will be provided.

 

Kevin White states that tying sewer fees to water bills is a possibility, but that also requires a willingness to cooperate from the water service providers. We are exploring the most cost-effective options (water, electric, and solid waste providers or a new county-wide or multi-county system). Affordability is key in this region. Sewer bills that are $50+ a month will not be affordable and residents will not want to connect to the system. He also stated that Dr. Amal Bakchan is the contact on our team who is leading our studies on responsible management entities for rural water and wastewater systems.

 

Daniel Yeh asked what the criteria are for 90+ as a cluster cut-off. Are there needs/opportunities to provide service to clusters of less than 90 homes?

 

Kevin White responded that the cost per home is higher ($25-40k) for smaller clusters to have a system with STEP sewer and attached growth (recirculating media filter) treatment with low power cost and no solids accumulation. At 90+ homes, the cost per home is lower. For homes that are in much smaller clusters, shared treatment systems of the right kind of technology can still be viable.

 

Mark Elliott states that there are many properties in the region that have one home and several trailers on a single property. These can sometimes all be tied into one treatment system. This can be more affordable.

 

Daniel Yeh states that costs are evolving as new technologies come about, and there is probably a need for mini or micro-clusters. We should mark these as “areas of need” where we need to work out the technology and costs to make these possible.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Agenda Item: Onsite Systems – BBUWP Project Update

Presenter: Felicia Barrow

Discussion:

 

Mike Webster reviewed data from an ADPH spreadsheet on the Black Belt Unincorporated Wastewater Project (BBUWP) progress. Approximately 65 units have been installed, and another dozen or so have been permitted but not yet installed.

 

Kevin White stated that some of these systems are traditional septic tanks with drainfields and some of them are engineered systems that have some sort of a treatment system.

 

Mike Webster said the costs of these systems vary depending on the property. Needing to clear the land can have significant costs. They have seen as little as $10,000 for a traditional system up to $70,000 for a lot that needed a lot of work.

 

Andrea Stowell stated that Lixil did some analysis regarding these sites and a median price for an engineered system was around $30,000.

 

Kevin White stated that the estimated costs of our cluster systems for 90+ homes are cost-competitive with that value.

 

Andres Stowell stated that the vast majority of that cost is within the drain field, so if there are alternatives to drip-mound systems these costs could come down.

 

Kevin White said that ADPH did change its rules to allow for innovative discharge systems of treated and disinfected wastewater into vegetated areas. This could lower the costs by eliminating drip fields.

 

John Clanton suggests looking into creating clusters to create small regional treatment plants to serve broader areas.

 

Kevin White replied that what our need is right now for clusters is management entities and potentially consolidating all of the clusters in a county or multiple counties under one management entity.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Agenda Item: Onsite Systems – USDA Proposal Plans

Presenter: Dr. Mark Elliott

Discussion:

 

Mark Elliott explained that one of the fruits of CARWW’s efforts is government relations and building connections. One connection is with former Senator Shelby. He is currently retired, but as vice chair of the appropriations committee, he enabled funds to be set aside for USDA to fund regional university groups to look into wastewater treatment in rural areas. $5 million was put into a USDA appropriations bill a few years ago and CARWW has submitted a proposal. Our approach needed to be tweaked to include construction. The application is for a 3-year project that incorporates managed onsite systems and their installation. Hopefully, sometime in 2024, requests for bids will be put out for onsite companies that want to install and manage 20-25 systems for the design life of the system. A couple of onsite companies are interested at this time. The idea is to pilot managed onsite wastewater treatment approaches in two different areas. There are at least 15,000 homes that are too isolated to be included in a proposed cluster or attached to an existing municipal system. This is not final, but changes are being made to the proposed budget to submit to USDA by next week.

 

Pete Sabo brought up the need for manufacturers to do individual state approvals with individual pilot programs and individual testing requirements. The process is so fragmented that he feels like prices are kept high vs if there was more competition between manufacturers. He believes that if a technology is NSF-approved, states should lower the barriers to that technology being used. He has seen the same issues in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Florida, etc

 

Mark Elliott shared that other states’ allowance of innovative discharges inspired the changes made to Alabama regulations. He agrees that we need to mobilize to allow manufacturers to come in to install systems.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Agenda Item: Wastewater Infrastructure Affordability

Presenter: Dr. Jillian Maxcy-Brown

Discussion:

 

Jillian Maxcy-Brown reviewed the wastewater affordability study completed by UA, Auburn University (AU), and USA. Wastewater affordability in Alabama was analyzed on a census tract level using the EPA’s threshold for drinking water affordability of 2.5% of median household income (MHI). There is no EPA threshold for wastewater affordability without combined sewers. Water usage was estimated using USGS estimates and the average household size in Alabama was 6,000 gallons/month/household. Household income data was from the 2019 American Community Survey. Sewer data was mostly taken from the UNC Alabama Water and Wastewater Rates Dashboard ADEM records. Data from 2019 was available for 222 sewer utilities via the dashboard and gap-filling was undertaken to ensure that all 262 utilities were represented. For residents not served by sewer, it was assumed that they used onsite wastewater treatment. Conservative estimates were made for $5,000 outside of the black belt and $20,000 within the black belt for onsite treatment systems, which were represented at a monthly payment and pumping costs, a lump sum, or only pumping costs.

 

Jillian Maxcy-Brown showed the results of data collection on maps showing which areas of Alabama have unaffordable sewer costs. 65% of households in Alabama are on sewer and 35.4% are not. 14.9% of households in Alabama have unaffordable sewer costs. For onsite wastewater treatment access, the percentage with unaffordable costs is 8.8% for monthly payment and pumping costs, 34.5% for lump sum, and 1.1% for only pumping costs.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Agenda Item: Responsible Management Entities

Presenter: Dr. Amal Bakchan

Discussion:

 

Amal Bakchan reviewed research on responsible management of small decentralized wastewater systems. She stressed the importance of proper management of decentralized cluster systems to protect public health and the environment. In order to manage a small decentralized cluster system you must have a Responsible Management Entity (RME) that is a legal organization with the technical, managerial, and financial capacity to provide appropriate operation and maintenance for these systems. The management of small systems is among the most complex management models given. These systems are available in small rural communities with high poverty and have a limited customer base, which means the management of these systems is really difficult. Generally in literature, even in agency publications, we have very limited information about the management of small systems. Some important aspects that we still don’t know about include best management entity types (public vs private vs nonprofit) and scale (local, county, or regional). These are complex, difficult-to-answer questions that this study has been trying to address. The study also aimed to identify challenges and opportunities for adopting various scale solutions based on stakeholders’ perceptions.

 

Amal Bakchan reviewed the results of the study. There were two datasets. The first (quantitative) dataset was a survey questionnaire where multiple management entities operating across several states (117 responses in 27 states). The second dataset is from 8 semi-structured interviews with 11 stakeholders (state government agencies, non-profit, for-profit, and academic representatives). 38% of respondents suggest a County-level scale and 33% suggest a regional scale model. Interview results show that interviewees see regionalization as an opportunity for sustainable operation and maintenance, but believe community preferences and political dynamics may be a challenge. Additionally, insufficient education on regionalization is a concern.

 

Kevin White added that as a result of this study and conversations regionally and nationally about regionalization, CARWW and Water Finance Exchange (WFX) are working on developing a three-session symposium as part of the Alabama Rural Water Association annual conference on March 12, 2024, in Montgomery, AL. People with experience in regionalization in rural areas will be speaking.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Agenda Item: Decentralized Demonstration – Construction Update

Presenter: Dr Kevin White

Discussion:

 

Kevin White reviewed the progress of the decentralized cluster demonstration in Newbern, AL. Phase 1 construction has begun including site clearing. Ultimately, 140+ homes could be connected to this effluent sewer and recirculating media treatment system.

 

Emily McGlohn stated that the land is being cleared and part of the roadbed is being installed. Auburn Rural Studio has been in contact with community members and leaders throughout the summer. A community meeting will take place in December to give an update on progress.

 

Wade Burcham stated that barring supply chain issues, Phase 1 should be operational by the end of January 2024.

 

Emily McGlohn invited everyone to come see the system in person once it is up and running.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Agenda Item: Decentralized Demonstration – Field Sampling

Presenter: Dr. Mark Elliott

Discussion:

 

Mark Elliott gave an update on field sampling in and around the Newbern area. Currently, testing is in progress to establish baseline conditions. This will allow later testing to show what positive impacts have been made to fecal organism and pathogen exposures in the environment after the decentralized demonstration is installed. UA is taking grab samples and time-integrated samples of water sources as well as sediment sampling (time-integrated with sediment samplers). UNC is doing soil sampling, sampling from septic tanks, and surface water sampling. Samples from UA are being shipped to UNC for analysis. Hopefully, over time, we will see less potential for exposure to pathogens once we start to address the wastewater issues in the area.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Agenda Item: Needs

Presenter: Dr. Kevin White

Discussion:

 

Kevin White reviewed our current needs to keep progress going. We need education and buy-in from citizens, elected officials, and regulators. We have been preparing educational materials for 2.5 years as part of a USDA grant including K-12 materials. As part of a potential upcoming USDA grant, we may involve UA College of Education in moving these materials into K-12 curriculums. We need to determine who will be managing cluster systems. We would like to see a smaller number of entities overseeing implementation (potentially a state or regional office). We still need long-term dedicated funding for these entities. A large portion of funds (like SRF) go to large urban facilities. How can we get dedicated funding and technical assistance for small communities?

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Open Discussion and Collaboration Opportunities:

Kevin White added that the Virginia health department was at NOWRA. They have a person/small office that coordinates decentralized wastewater for the state. Could this be a model that would work here in Alabama? Could we potentially set up a small office that could coordinate with technical assistance providers in acquiring funding and prioritizing clusters?

John Clanton believes it will come down to a county government or a municipality. If given a choice to connect to a cluster, he believes that people may say no. Counties could implement ordinances to require residents to connect. He also favors working with existing wastewater treatment plants that may be out of compliance or need additional capacity. He suggests that these entities may be better suited to go after available funds.

Kevin White confirmed that we are trying to encourage existing municipal systems to go after the funds available to them. 49% can go to underserved communities in the form of a grant or forgivable loan. There is an opportunity to get low-cost or free funds to these communities.

John Clanton added that if anyone knows of an existing wastewater treatment system in the Black Belt region that needs additional capacity, Acuantia would be willing to donate a system that could provide up to 22,000 GPD of additional capacity.

Mark Elliott added that Lacey Christian has reviewed NPDES permits to determine the design and average flow rates and has a reasonable assessment of the current status of facilities in the black belt.

Lacey Christian agreed to share this data with John Clanton.

Chris Spencer added that he believes we are headed in the right direction with the conference scheduled for March 12. He will work to get municipal leaders and utility representatives to attend and requests that Kevin White provide him with the details of the conference. He used to be a county commissioner in Sumter County and they used an ADECA grant to put in an alternative system that served $300 homes and residents were unhappy with their $7 monthly bill. The education component is important so that people understand the value of wastewater treatment and what it means to community health. Political buy-in is also key. In Sumter, the county commission took on the responsibility of connecting those 300 homes. A solid waste management representative was hired to work alongside the county engineer to monitor the system. There is a lot of education that needs to take place and the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF) wants to be a part of that effort. They are also on board to assist with securing funding mechanisms to keep the operational costs of cluster and onsite systems low.

Kevin White agrees that citizens, elected officials, and utility boards need to know the advantages and disadvantages of regionalization of management because it can create cost savings. Costs that utilities incur are passed down to the consumer, so we need to do anything we can to lower those costs. The need to educate citizens and elected officials on utility consolidation, sharing of resources, and managing multiple decentralized systems is why the symposium on March 12 was developed. We will bring speakers from North Baldwin Utilities who consolidated several small utilities into North Baldwin Water and Sewer (which has worked very well). In Jackson County Mississippi there was a legislative mandate after Katrina to form one county-wide water and sewer utility, which is still going today. There are areas in eastern Kentucky and Appalachia where they have consolidated 3-6 small utilities into one regional utility. There will be speakers coming in to discuss that process as well as the advantages and barriers.

Kevin White says that there are many people on this call that we have spoken to about this issue which is similar to issues in a lot of other places (e.g. Appalachia, tribal regions, etc.,). We have learned a lot from these discussions and it is very valuable to hear from everyone on these calls. There are a lot of private operation and maintenance groups that could possibly come in and operate and maintain these smaller systems. Another option is cooperatives. We are getting feedback from Alabama Power on how cooperatives are legally created and how they function. We are trying to reach out to a number of players to solve the management issue. In terms of funding, we are still talking to congressional delegations.

Victoria Miller agrees with our assessments and believes that continued support from our state agencies is important. The SRF would be a good mechanism for continued support. She asked if we have gotten to the phase yet where we are communicating the results of our needs assessments with municipalities so that they can apply for SRF funds to incorporate nearby clusters.

Kevin White replied that we had not yet done this. The question now is who implements the plans that we have developed. Maybe we should provide this information to the individual municipalities. We need to discuss how to move forward with that idea (passing information to these small communities or creating a larger entity).

Chris Spencer has a good relationship with the mayors of Linden and York. York is currently having issues with their system. The community of Morningstar is nearby and could possibly be connected. Once the Newbern demonstration is up and running, it will be a model for any of the other clusters in the region.

Kevin White agrees that once we have the first phase up and running, we can show these communities the system. In terms of education and outreach, the value of water and wastewater services needs to be a focus. Wastewater services protect public health and potentially promote economic development.

Chris Spencer states that they will be working with Barbara VanScoy with the Heron Foundation who just received funding to work towards educating communities across the black belt.

Kevin White added that we have tried to keep affordability as part of the strategy but infrastructure has capital and O&M costs that will have to be paid for in part by the community. However, there are public health, economic, and environmental health benefits to investing in wastewater infrastructure.

Lacey Christian shared a link (https://linktr.ee/ruralwastewater) to a page that has links to the CARWW website and social media.

Mark Elliott also mentioned that anyone from outside of the state is welcome to come for a visit to see our work. The engagement from outside of the state is wonderful and we would like to facilitate that.

Kevin White added that we are hoping that what we are doing can be a model for other areas. We have also learned from what other areas are doing as well as part of our engagement with Dig Deep. This connection is what inspired Sherry Bradley to seek to change the effluent discharge rules for onsite systems with ADPH.

Kevin White added that we will be sending out information regarding the March 12 symposium in the near future.

 

Next Meeting Date and Time: Spring 2024

Time of Adjournment: 11:30 AM

Consortium for Alabama Rural Water and Wastewater Management

Meeting #: 9

Location: ADEM Office 1400 Coliseum Blvd, Montgomery, AL 36110 Room 1201/Remote via Zoom

Date: May 5, 2023

Time: 10:00 AM

Attendees:

Name

Description

Aaron Blackwell

PhD Student at the University of Alabama

Alan Nipp

Infiltrator

Allen Bowen

Program Director at United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Alabama

Allison Blodig

Wastewater Treatment Systems Specialist at Infiltrator

Amal Bakchan

Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of South Alabama

Andrea Stowell

Lixil

Bo Tucker

Orenco

Bria Hines

Community Environmental Management Specialist at Communities Unlimited

Brian Espy

Alabama Department of Environmental Management

Carey Clark

Graduate student at Auburn University

Christine Robinson

PhD Student at the University of South Alabama

Christopher Lindsay

International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials

Christopher Spencer

Black Belt Community Foundation

Cindy Lowry

Director of Alabama Rivers Alliance

Claudette Poole

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Corey Martin

ClearWater Solutions

Cory Johnson

West Alabama Regional Commission

Daphne Lutz

Alabama Department of Environmental Management

Dave White

Senior Policy Advisor for Governor Kay Ivey

Delmartre Bethel

President of the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association

Dennis Hallahan

Civil/Environmental Engineer at Infiltrator

Emily McGlohn

Professor of Architecture at Auburn Rural Studio

Emily Volkmar

Aqualateral

Eric Reidy

Chief of State Revolving Fund at Alabama Department of Environmental Management

Felicia Barrow

Consultant at Black Belt Unincorporated Wastewater Project

Helenor Bell

Former Mayor of Hayneville

Jackson Parr

Water Finance Exchange

Janice Robinson

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Jasmine Kennedy

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Jillian Maxcy-Brown

PhD Student at the University of Alabama

Jimbo Carlson

Stormwater Management at Alabama Department of Environmental Management

Josh Clanton

Director of Product Development at Acuantia

Josh Clement

Director of Programs and Development at Water Finance Exchange

Kate Harrison

Water Resources Coordinator for the Gulf of Mexico Alliance

Kathleen Rasmussen

CED Division Chief – Community Development Block Grants

Kevin White

Professor Emeritus, University of South Alabama

Lacey Christian

Research Project Coordinator at the University of South Alabama

Leigh Salter

Director of Community Environmental Protection for the Alabama Department of Public Health

Lynn Broaddus

Water Environment Federation/Broadview Collaborative

Mallory Jordan

PhD student at Auburn University

Mara Lindsley

Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 Water Division

Mark Barnett

Professor, Auburn University

Mark Elliott

Professor, University of Alabama

Mary Blackmon

Water Resources Engineer for the Office of Water Resources at Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs

Meena Sankaran

CEO of Ketos

Megan Lott

Post-Doc, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Melinda Williams

District Director for Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Michael Harper

Alabama Water Use Program Coordinator for the Office of Water Resources at Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs

Mike Saunders

Orenco

Mike Webster

Project Manager at Lixil

Mostafa Firouzjaei

Post-Doc at the University of Alabama

Olivia Harmon

PhD Student at University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Portia Shepherd

Black Belt Women Rising

Rachel Chai

PhD Student at University of Routh Alabama

Rajen Patel

Engineer for the State Revolving Fund Section of the Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 Water Division

Rob White

Executive Director of Alabama Rural Water Association

Sarah Lotfikatouli

Engineer at Orenco

Sarah Silliman

Associate Director of Project Development at Columbie World Projects

Sharlene Newman

University of Alabama Alabama Life Research Institute

Stacy McKean

Grant Management

Suzannah Cleveland

Senator Britt’s Office

Todd Hester

Project Manager at the University of Alabama

Tom Littlepage

Alabama Water Resources office of Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs

Upmanu Lall

Columbia Water Center at Columbia University

Victor Damato

Supervisor of Viable Utilities Unit, North Carolina Division of Water Infrastructure

Victoria Miller

Alabama Rivers Alliance

 

Minutes:

Agenda Item: Welcome & Introduction of Guests

 

Presenter: Dr. Kevin White

Discussion:

 

Dr. Kevin White welcomed everyone and shared the agenda for the meeting. Attendees were provided with the consortium web address (https://ruralwastewater.southalabama.edu). He reviewed the purpose and history of the Consortium for Alabama Rural Water and Wastewater Management (CARWW). He invited all attendees who are interested in joining the consortium (by signing the consortium agreement) to contact himself or Lacey Christian. Membership has no cost or requirements.

 

All attendees gave short introductions (see above).

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Email Lacey Christian or Kevin White to sign the CARWW agreement

All interested parties

None

 

Agenda Item: Black Belt Unincorporated Wastewater Project (BBUWP) – Project Updates

Presenter: Felicia Barrow

Discussion:

 

Installations are happening throughout Lowndes County. BBUWP is also involved in community engagement efforts. They are providing education on the inappropriate nature of straight pipes and more sustainable solutions. BBUWP has also established a youth education and enrichment program for 5th graders in Lowndes County. The students have an opportunity to observe septic tank installations and are also educated on the most appropriate and effective onsite wastewater systems. BBUWP is committed to promoting environmental justice throughout the Black Belt, mitigating sanitation harms, and ensuring access to effective wastewater systems to operationalize health equity in underserved communities.

 

Dr. Kevin White added that BBUWP is a non-profit with significant funding through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). They are involved in installing onsite wastewater systems in Lowndes County and are partnered with Lixil. Lixil has provided low-flow fixtures to the homes that are getting wastewater system installations through BBUWP. BBUWP has also partnered with the International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) and its voluntary plumbing program to install these low-flow fixtures. Recipients have to apply and pay a low monthly service fee.

 

Mike Webster added that the community plumbing challenge is taking place with the International Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Foundation (IWSH). They are installing low-flow fixtures with volunteer labor. They are open to suggestions for funding mechanisms to close the installation cost gap. Lixil has committed to providing low-flow fixtures to 100 homes.

 

Dr. Kevin White added that many onsite wastewater solutions are high-cost due to the soils in the Black Belt.

 

As of now, 75 systems have been installed through BBUWP.

 

Costs now are around $12,000 for conventional septic tanks and drain fields and $28,000 for engineered systems.

 

Alternative, lower-cost systems are being reviewed and will be tested in the future.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Contact Mike Webster with suggestions for funding installation labor costs

All

None

 

Agenda Item: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Reinventing Rural Wastewater Project – Wastewater Needs Assessments

Presenter: Lacey Christian

Discussion:

 

Wastewater needs assessments have been completed for 5 Black Belt counties through Civil SE (Dallas, Hale, Lowndes, Perry, and Wilcox) and 8 counties through the University of South Alabama (Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Crenshaw, Greene, Macon, and Sumter). There are 3 counties left to be completed by USA (Marengo, Pike, and Russell).

 

Needs assessments include soil mapping via USDA data and the identification of existing municipal sewer systems (and their capacities) via ADEM records (with service areas estimated to city limits). Population clusters are identified via satellite images and GIS records with the requirement of 25+ homes/sq mi and 85+ homes per cluster (based on cost-effectiveness). Clusters are given a best-fit solution of either being tied into an existing wastewater treatment system within 6 miles (with treatment facility upgrades needed for some), establishing a decentralized treatment cluster, or finding onsite solutions (any home outside of a cluster or existing service area). The soil maps show which onsite homes can use septic tanks with drain fields and which need more advanced onsite solutions. Potential pipe network plans and rough cost estimates are also completed for each cluster. Example maps, potential pipe networks, and cost estimates were shown.

 

There are an estimated 57,000 homes in these counties with sewer service, 38,000-39,000 homes within clusters for tie-in or individual treatment systems, a remaining 17,000 households are outside of existing service areas and these clusters, and approximately 13,000-15,000 of these homes will need onsite solutions.

 

Dr. Kevin White added that approximately 51% of homes in these counties are estimated to be on a managed sewer system now, and following these suggestions over 75% of homes in these counties would be on a managed sewer system. He emphasized that once we have these planning documents completed, the next step is to see how to implement these plans (funding, implementation, management, and onsite systems). Communities need assistance with applying for funds. A regional management entity would be ideal, but there may be political and legal barriers to establishing one. He suggests that a multi-county management entity may reduce costs to consumers.

 

Allen Bowen added that cities may impose an ordinance for mandatory hook-up to a sewer system, but counties do not have provisions to do so in unincorporated areas. If homeowners are opting out of connecting to an available sewer system and reducing the number of ratepayers, this increases operation and maintenance costs per user.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Complete the final three needs assessments

Lacey Christian

 

None

Gather information on how to best create a regional management entity

All

None

 

Agenda Item: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Reinventing Rural Wastewater Project – Wastewater Affordability Study

Presenter: Jillian Maxcy-Brown

Discussion:

 

There are currently no affordability studies in the U.S. that include onsite systems and sewer. Looking at wastewater affordability on the census tract level using the EPA threshold of 2.5% of the median household income using 2019 median household income (MHI) data from the American Community Survey. The study includes 1,181 census tracts with an MHI range of $9,202 to $184,000. Sewer data was obtained through the UNC Environmental Finance Center. Data gap-filling methods were reviewed. Conventional onsite systems were used to price all areas except for the Black Belt, which had an increased onsite treatment cost. Estimated monthly costs for onsite systems outside of the Black Belt are estimated at $44.15 and $151.62 for areas within the Black Belt. Maps shown identify areas with sewer service vs onsite wastewater treatment and the percentage of MHI spent on wastewater access. The results of the study include 236 census tracts with unaffordable wastewater access. Affordability was also evaluated based on income brackets. There are an estimated 278,086 households in Alabama with unaffordable sewer access and 165,151 homes with unaffordable onsite wastewater treatment (based on the EPA threshold of 2.5% of MHI).

 

Dr. Kevin White added that Upmanu Lall’s team at Columbia University has been running models on cluster sewer systems vs traditional gravity sewer systems to optimize size based on cost. According to his work, the traditional gravity sewer systems cost approximately $60,000 per home whereas the cluster sewer systems using small-diameter effluent sewer cost approximately $20,000 per connection.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Agenda Item: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Reinventing Rural Wastewater Project – Responsible Management Entities

Presenter: Dr. Amal Bakchan

Discussion:

 

Work is ongoing to understand the various attributes surrounding the optimization of management of decentralized cluster systems in the Black Belt. This includes which style and scale of management entity will be the most feasible and cost-effective. A survey including 51 questions (on topics such as entity type, services provided, operation and management, decentralized systems, and socio-technical barriers), was completed by 114 respondents in 27 states. Semi-structured interviews were also conducted (with elected officials, regulators, engineers, non-profits, utility managers, and community advocates) to better understand barriers to effective management. The data analysis is ongoing, but the major takeaways are that pseudo-public entities (public non-profit) may be the best-fit, gradual management towards regionalization is the suggested approach, novel mechanisms are needed to overcome operator shortages, and insufficient education about the opportunities and challenges of regionalization will need to be overcome via education and outreach.

 

Dr. Kevin White commented on how the private management entities are most willing to take on decentralized systems but do not have the same access to federal funding as public entities.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Agenda Item: Columbia World Projects Transforming Wastewater Infrastructure in the U.S. – Decentralized Demonstration Update

Presenter: Dr. Kevin White

Discussion:

 

The Newbern, AL (Hale County) decentralized cluster demonstration project is supported through Columbia World Projects and AARPA funds. The project will be constructed in phases to gather community support. Phase 1 is an ADPH permit to an existing drain field for Auburn Rural Studio, Phase 2 will include key properties owned by Auburn in Newbern, Phase 3 will include Newbern town limits, and Phase 4 will include nearby clusters of homes. A map was shown to indicate the areas that would be connected to the cluster system. Original plans included spray irrigation to a pine forest, but this may not happen due to a high groundwater table in the area. An engineer is investigating a potential discharge to Big Prairie Creek. The system will feature a STEP collection system to a recirculating media filter modular treatment system. A timeline was reviewed for the upcoming project steps.

 

State funding will only be in place until June 2026. If the project is not complete by this time, the funds will be returned.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Project completion

Dr. Kevin White

June 2026

 

Agenda Item: Columbia World Projects Transforming Wastewater Infrastructure in the U.S. – Field Sampling Update

Presenter: Dr. Mark Elliott

Discussion:

 

It is important to establish baseline conditions, so ongoing field sampling led by Todd Hester and assisted by the UNC team is in progress. Areas targeted include upstream and downstream Big Prairie Creek (shown through GIS modeling to be where ground surface wastewater will runoff), with the goal to show signs of human wastewater contamination. The UNC team will be in Hale County performing baseline sampling and interviews to determine the potential that people are being exposed to fecal pathogens.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Continue field sampling

Todd Hester and UNC team

Ongoing

 

Agenda Item: USDA Training Grant Award (Regional Wastewater) – Education and Outreach

Presenter: Lacey Christian

Discussion:

 

Presentation from Lacey Christian skipped for time.

 

Dr. Kevin White stated that we will be coordinating efforts with Dr. Claudette Poole’s team, who have been focusing on healthcare providers. County officials and citizen groups will be targeted as well.

 

Dr. Claudette Poole stated that a meeting is being planned for October 19, 2023. The meeting will focus on coordinating education and outreach efforts throughout the region.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Agenda Item: ClearWater Solutions

 

Presenter: Corey Martin

Discussion:

 

Corey Martin works with Eutaw and Uniontown utilities. Grant funds usually only cover capital and equipment costs, not operation and maintenance. Costing operation and maintenance is difficult. There are draft regulations in the works for operator certifications and various topics that we should take notice of. A lack of licensed operators may be an issue for the proposed systems.

 

Dr. Kevin White additionally acknowledged that low operation and maintenance decentralized technologies (e.g. effluent sewer and recirculating media filters) may not be familiar to operators, and suggested that additional information related to these technologies be added to operator certification courses.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Agenda Item: H2Alabama

 

Presenter: Stacy McKean

Discussion:

 

Stacy McKean does a lot of work in the Black Belt to help secure grants for small utilities with her business partner Cara Stallman. There are a significant number of failing septic tanks, straight pipes, and old failing water wells. They have started a charitable arm of their grant management company called H2Alabama which focuses on drinking water. They have a partnership with Water Well Trust, a national organization that provides funding for water wells for low-income homeowners. Through this partnership, they have received USDA funding for the first 50 wells that they will install in the Alabama Black Belt. They are now taking applications for the program. The wells cost roughly $8,000-12,000 each. They received a donation of materials from Jet Stream Pipe and are working with a local well contractor. The next steps include continuing applications and installing the first well. Recipients will have a monthly payment, and the goal is to keep this payment at or lower than the average water bill in these areas.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Agenda Item: Water & Wastewater Opportunities in Alabama – Updates on January 26 workshop

Presenter: Drs. White/Elliott

Discussion:

 

The Water and Wastewater Opportunities in Alabama workshop took place on January 26, 2023, in Montgomery, AL, and was co-sponsored by CARWW, the Water Finance Exchange, and Communities Unlimited. Two key takeaways came out of this meeting: 1) A critical need for education and outreach so that we can get everyone to understand the issues and be on the same page. 2) It would be ideal for a regional management entity to manage these systems on a county or multi-county level.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

 

 

 

Open Discussion and Collaboration Opportunities:

Dr. Kevin White asked Dr. Claudette Poole to speak about the health studies that her team is conducting along with Dr. Joe Brown’s team. She reports that her study began in 2018 with CDC funding to perform soil-transmitted helminth surveillance. National interest in this subject was piqued in 2017 when a study was published claiming 30% of people in Lowndes County would test positive for hookworm. Dr. Poole’s team began screening children in Wilcox, Lowndes, and Perry counties. 770 children were sampled, and no cases of hookworm were identified. However, they found that a substantial number of children were living in homes with self-reported straight pipes, sewage exposures, or well connections. So, though there is no hookworm, there is still a public health issue. They are looking into other ways they can identify health impacts.

Dr. Claudette Poole also discussed the Department of Justice findings that were just published. They have an agreement with ADPH for actions that should be taken, which is on course with the work being done in the region.

Allen Bowen added that the USDA has spent millions in the Black Belt in the last 6 years on water and wastewater projects. A project was provided $32 million dollars to fix a collection system and is approximately 60% complete. This will also provide opportunities for economic development. In the last 6 years, funds have had to be returned because of a lack of applications.

Dr. Claudette Poole discussed the difficulty in navigating these applications for funds. She suggests that many county commissioners may not have the bandwidth to get through the application process.

Allen Bowen suggests that these parties should hire an engineer to complete the application.

Dr. Claudette Poole is working with community advisory boards to assist with getting consultants/someone to assist with getting funding.

Allen Bowen states that a preliminary engineering report from a licensed engineer is required for applications. He states that these engineers do not have trouble navigating the online application portal. Alabama Rural Water Association and USDA can also offer assistance. He reiterates that funding opportunities are available through USDA Rural Development.

Dr. Mark Elliott suggests that one hurdle is that engineers are less inclined to take on small projects.

Allen Bowen states that there are grants available which provide up to $30,000 (which may be increased to $70,000) to pay for preliminary engineering reports.

Dr. Mark Elliott states that we are considering establishing an online portal on the CARWW website where engineers can add their names to a list for these communities to contact for these projects.

Allen Bowen knows engineers looking for work and will help facilitate contact between these engineers and CARWW.

Allen Bowen states that ADECA has money available for assistance to homeowners. Assistance is being provided for people in Uniontown. Uniontown has not had a rate increase since 2012 despite operation and maintenance costs increasing. This ADECA program is helping the citizens to afford sewer and helping the utility board to stay afloat.

Dr. White states that there needs to be an entity that can apply for funding, hold a permit, and do all of these things that someone needs to be accountable for.

Suzannah Cleveland states that Senator Britt was selected to be on the appropriations committee, which is huge for our state and obtaining funds.

Brian Espy states that the funding for the SRF program has been reduced from $100 million for drinking water and $100 million for clean water in 2018 to $40 million per program this year. Next year that may reduce to $20 million dollars or less. Earmarks are being taken from the SRF pot and soon there will be no SRF.

Victoria Miller states that the Alabama Rivers Alliance has a program that funds short films to highlight environmental issues. This year’s film topic is wastewater issues. Anyone who is interested in being involved with this program is encouraged to reach out to her.

With no other business or comments, the meeting was adjourned.

Find us online!

Website: https://ruralwastewater.southalabama.edu/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RuralWastewater

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100090294168015

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/consortium-for-alabama-rural-water-and-wastewater-management

YouTube: https://youtube.com/@ruralwastewater

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@ruralwastewater

 

Next Meeting Date and Time: October 2023

Time of Adjournment: 12:34 PM

Consortium for Alabama Rural Water and Wastewater Management

Meeting #: 8

Location: Remote via Zoom

Date: October 7, 2022

Time: 10:30 AM

Attendees:

Name

Description

Aaron Blackwell

MS student at UA

Allen Bowen

USDA Programs Director for AL

Amal Bakchan

Postdoc at USA

Andrea Stowell

 

Christopher Lindsay

IAPMO

Devin Jenkins

 

Emily Anderson

ADEM

Emily McGlohn

Auburn Rural Studio

Harry McCaskill

MS sudent at USA

Jillian Maxcy-Brown

MS student at UA

Joe Brown

 

Jimbo Carlson

 

Kevin White

Professor Emeritus at USA

Lacey Christian

Research Project Coordinator at USA

Lynne Chronister

VP of Research and Economic Dev USA

Mara Lindsley

EPA Region 4 Wastewater systems

Mark Elliott

Professor at UA

Megan Lott

Postdoc at UNC

Rachel Chai

PhD student at USA

Sarah Silliman

Columbia World Projects

Sherry Bradley

ADPH Director

Stephanie Rogers

 

Susannah Cleveland

Senator Richard Shelby

Troy Benavidez

LIXIL

Victoria Miller

 

Wade Burcham

 

Minutes:

Agenda Item: Welcome and Introduction of Guests

 

Presenter: Dr. White

Discussion:

Dr. Kevin White greeted everyone, gave some background and history on the Consortium, and thanked everyone on their efforts.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

None

  

Agenda Item: Consortium Website and Media Coverage Updates

 

Presenter: Lacey Christian

Discussion:

Lacey Christian went over the contents of the Consortium website, particularly the media coverage, and suggested emailing her to request that events or news be added.

Dr. Kevin White highlighted that a lot of the recent media coverage we are getting is positive and focuses on the work we are doing.

Troy Benavidez discussed the importance of featuring personal stories from those impacted by our work.

Dr. Mark Elliott called attention to two news stories: IWISH award won by Sherry Bradley and Alabama State Employee of the Year award won by Sherry Bradley. He then asked if anyone from EPA Region 4 was present to ask about Mid-November event.

Mara Lindsley agreed to provide some information during updates.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Email Lacey Christian to request News/Events additions to the website

All

None

Agenda Item: American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding

 

Presenter: Drs. White/Elliott/

Sherry Bradley

Discussion:

Dr. Kevin White stated that ARPA funds were distributed to each state for state legislature to decide on how it is used. Approximately $5 mil earmarked (recommended by ADEM) for Columbia World Projects decentralized demonstration in Newbern, AL ($2.8 million) and ADPH/BBUWP’s individual onsite wastewater systems ($2.2 million).

Sherry Bradley stated that ADPH had to submit a proposal to receive the $2.2 mil and was successful. The state wants the money spent quickly. The project began focus in Fort Deposit, AL with a deadline for individual applications on October 19. Applications are being submitted and will be passed to soil scientists to begin the process towards installation. The state wants the money encumbered by the next meeting of the state legislature.

Dr. Kevin White reiterates that there are restrictions on these funds. The challenge lies in getting those systems installed quickly because there are limited installers and the approval process takes time. If anyone knows a methodology we could use to help BBUWP get these systems in the ground quickly (1 to 2 per week), please reach out to Dr. Kevin White or Sherry Bradley.

Dr Mark Elliott states that least 20k, possibly 30k, homes in the Alabama Black Belt are too spread out to be part of a network and need onsite solutions. He called attention to two bottlenecks: heir property issues and getting firms interested in installing low cost systems. Innovative discharge systems (high level treatment and disinfection to avoid in-ground discharge requirements) funded by International Paper Foundation will be installed as proof-of-concept to try to get more firms interested in performing installations in Alabama. People who are part of firms who have interest in getting involved (with pay via federal government) should contact Dr. Mark Elliott.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Contact Dr. Kevin White or Sherry Bradley

Anyone with ideas/ methodologies/contacts for expediting installations

None given

Contact Dr. Mark Elliott

 

Anyone who is part of firms wanting to get involved with installations

None given

Agenda Item: Alabama Department of Environmental Management

 

Presenter: Emily Anderson

Discussion:

Dr. Kevin White commented that the BIL and ARPA funds that arrived this year have been timed perfectly and he has heard of $100 million or more being targeted for the Black Belt thanks to ADEM’s suggestion.

Emily Anderson suggests Brian Espy (not present) is the best person to reach out to with questions about the allocation of funds.

Dr. Kevin White explains to everyone that Brian has assisted us on ARPA projects for decentralized demonstrations. We have been working with small communities to help them to get with a grant writer or engineer and put together an application for funding through ADEM.

Emily Anderson says she appreciates all of the work that has been done to encourage municipalities to apply. That is the first step and ADEM can not do anything for these communities without it.

Troy Benavidez asks if it a lack of communication/awareness or a lack of technical expertise.

Dr. Kevin White states there is a lack of both. This is something we need to focus on in education and outreach including possible public service announcements on tv and radio.

Christopher Lindsay asked if part of the $100 mil funds set aside for decentralized systems will be going to BBUWP.

Sherry Bradley says those funds are separate from funding set aside for BBUWP ($200 mil).

Allen Bowen suggested to let small communities be aware of the available funding they need their financial information to be current and need to work with a consulting engineer to put their request together. Specific details speed up the process. So, technical assistance is a great need. If anyone is available to offer this assistance, that is paramount in making these efforts successful.

Kevin White comments that RME research is pointing to is regional management. It is difficult for small systems to sustain an RME. Would it be possible to use SRF funds to create a regional management entity to address the issues Allen discussed and manage these systems?

Troy Benavidez says these systems need a coordinated regional approach with centralized administration.

Emily McGlohn suggests considering a regional body where people from these small communities can join.

Dr. Kevin White agrees that centralized management of decentralized infrastructure, one central body as RME for small decentralized system, is the best option. He asks if BIL or ARPA funds could be used to establish this RME. He suggests that it could be within ADEM or ADPH, private, nonprofit, or community development corporations. Everything from the data suggests that small communities will have difficulty financially sustaining these individual systems because there are limited rate payers.

Mark Elliott believes SRF funding can be used to establish RMEs, but cannot be used for operational expenses.

Mara Lindsley offers to follow up with SRF people to get more information on this.

Wade Burcham states that he has dealt with clients who wanted to install a system but did not have a willingness to take on the liability of being a management organization. They were willing to pay someone to do this, but no one was found to do this. He agrees that regional management is a god option.

Allen Bowen says USDA technical assistance provider Alabama Rural Water is capable of working with any small community for technical assistance. He also suggests Communities Unlimited (ARCAP) may be able to provide assistance. He also states that third party companies can be a great option. There also may be a technical assistance program through EPA or USDA Rural Development.

Dr. Kevin White suggests we may want to have a separate meeting with USDA, ARCAP, ADEM, Alabama Rural Water, and ADPH to talk about RMEs and how best to make this work.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Follow up to find out about use of SRF funds for RMEs

Mara Lindsley

None given

Arrange RME discussion meeting with USDA, RCAP, ADEM, ARW, & ADPH

Dr. Kevin White

None given

Agenda Item: Black Belt Unincorporated Wastewater Project

 

Presenter: Sherry Bradley/Dr. White/Troy Benevitez

Discussion:

Sherry Bradley hired an attorney to speak to the group about heir properties. This is a hurdle in approving applicants. BBUWP has 114 new sign-ups for installations. If a person’s name is on the deed, even with other family members, that is  a “vested interest” and may be enough for approval. They are steadily installing systems. There is an area called Sandy Ridge and outside of White Hall that have good soils for septic tanks. There is a media event at the end of this month with Lixil, FujiClean, and IAPMO installing new low flow fixtures in homes. Local students are being hired to assist with inspections under adult supervision (funded by SABIC donation).

Andrea Stowell says that they will be using the end of October event as an opportunity to get feedback from homeowners about system impact and performance.

Dr. Kevin White states that the USA team is sampling the 3 FujiClean systems installed in August 2021. All homes were fitted with low flow fixtures provided by LIXIL and installed by IAPMO. The systems are performing well. The separate UV disinfection unit has been the only issue due to failed float switches. These high-tech systems can have significant maintenance. He states the need to be careful on technology choices and how the system is managed.

Allen Bowen states that the Build America, Buy America Act will impact which materials can be used on infrastructure projects receiving federal funding after February 4, 2022.

Emily McGlohn suggests that Sherry Bradley look into how FEMA has relaxed their rules for providing services on heir property based on a “self-certification” process.

Sherry Bradley confirms that they will be taking an approach like this one.

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

BBUWP/Lixil/FujiClean/IAPMO Event

Sherry Bradley

End of October 2022

Agenda Item: US EPA Reinventing Rural Wastewater

 

Presenter: Lacey Christian/Jillian Maxcy-Brown/Drs. White/Elliott

Discussion:

Dr. Kevin White states that this project has received a 1 year no-cost extension and will be ongoing until June 2023.

Lacey Christian reviewed the wastewater needs assessments completed (Dallas, Hale, Lowndes, Perry, and Wilcox by Civil SE and Barbour and Bullock by USA) and upcoming (Butler, Choctaw, Crenshaw, Greene, Macon, Marengo, Pike, Russell, and Sumter). The needs assessments contain current utility data, soil conditions, population clusters, solutions, and estimates.

Stephanie Rogers, GIS scientist at AU, offered assistance on the mapping for needs assessments.

Jillian Maxcy Brown provided an overview of the How-To Guide contents. The goal is for anyone to be able to use the guide regardless of their previous knowledge on wastewater systems. Recent and upcoming presentations on the topic were covered. The draft is in the process of being finalized before getting feedback and distributing to local stakeholders.

Dr. Kevin White pointed out that this might have some similarities to activities within the EPA’s technical assistance initiative and asked if there are opportunities for coordination.

Mara Lindsley says they hope to be able to coordinate and are looking to build on the work that is already being done and expand it nationally. EPA and USDA are attempting to start this technical assistance program in 11 pilot communities (two in Alabama). The end goal is that these communities will be able to apply for funding at the end of the initiative. They will be using the National Rural Water Association and Rural Community Assistance Partnership as their technical assistance providers. The goals are to 1) conduct a community wastewater assessment, 2) develop a community solutions plan, 3) help identify and pursue funding, and 4) build long-term capacity.

Allen Bowen points out that a key component will be getting community involvement.

Mara Lindsley adds that the November meetings are still being planned but will likely be open for community involvement. Meetings will be in person with a virtual option.

Dr. Amal Bakchan reviewed progress on RME survey. There have been over 100 responses from representatives of unique entities (water, wastewater, electric coops, and others). Preliminary results show that regional management is the best fit, but more research is being done to identify the best approaches for implementation. The research also aims to identify barriers. Survey will likely be closed at the end of October at which point results will be analyzed and recommendations made.

Dr. Kevin White asks that if anyone is aware of a regional management entity that would be willing to complete the survey, to please contact him or Amal.

Dr. Kevin White provided an update on testing of a small onsite wastewater system based on LFSF with increased evapotranspiration abilities and an added constructed wetland with woodchips to increase denitrification. The goal is to implement some of these at full scale with BBUWP to test performance.

Dr. Mark Elliott confirms that spray irrigation will be allowed as a “Innovative Effluent Discharge System” for engineered test systems funded by International Paper foundation. This approach is very common in nearby states with similar soils.

Sherry Bradley confirms that ADPH is on schedule to finalize the new regulations allowing these discharge systems in December. She states that one difficulty of installing these types of systems is that several trailers will be located on one property and no room is left for the discharge systems.

Dr. Mark Elliott suggests working with adjacent landowners to allow use of forested areas for discharge.

Emily McGlohn recently met with landscape architects from AU and suggests incorporating a bioswale.

Dr. Kevin White discussed a trench with a small vegetated area being presented to ADPH for review. The benefits are tat the plants help to evapotranspiration the water and also create a barrier around the area.

Dr. Mark Elliott requested that Emily connect our group with the landscape architects.

Emily McGlohn suggests that the landscape architects may be willing to help with planting during installation as well.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Discuss collaborating on needs assessments

Stephanie Rogers and Lacey Christian

None given

Begin technical assistance initiative

EPA & USDA

November 2022

Contact with Amal for leads to regional RMEs to survey

All that have leads

End of October 2022

New onsite wastewater regulations implemented

ADPH

December 2022

Connect Dr. Mark Elliott with AU landscape architects

Emily McGlohn

None given

Agenda Item: Columbia World Projects

 

Presenter: Drs. White/Elliott

Discussion:

Dr. Mark Elliott announced that Phase 1 has been wrapped up and we are graduating to Phase 2 (with secured funding) with 3 components: 1) site installation 2) a health impact study 3) modeling to optimize the identification of ideal systems for specific locations. A paper for the best options for Uniontown is in revisions and should be released soon. He has hired a project coordinator/field manager, Todd Hester, who will be deeply involved in fieldwork.

Dr. Kevin White highlights that we are close to getting underway with Phase 1 construction in Newbern, AL for the Auburn Rural Studio system and this should be complete within a few months. This will be shown to community members to get buy-in for a community system.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

None

 

  

Agenda Item: USDA Training Grand Award

 

Presenter: Lacey Christian/ BBCF/Jillian Maxcy-Brown

Discussion:

Dr. Kevin White reviewed the types of education and outreach training materials that have been produced and are available for use by all. The materials are on a variety of topics and have been made for a variety of audiences.

Lacey Christian shared some examples of materials in the meeting chat and offered to fulfil requests for additional topics.

Jillian Maxcy-Brown summarized the Black Belt Wastewater Review paper. Sections covered include the current state of centralized wastewater systems, onsite systems, and the different challenges and potential solutions to address these problems. She asked that anyone with additional data sources or input on challenges reach out to her.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Contact Lacey Christian for access to educational materials

All

None

Contact Lacey Christian to request additional topics for educational materials

All

None

Contact Jillian Maxcy-Brown with data sources or input for Black Belt review paper

All

None

Agenda Item: Dig Deep Decentralized WW Innovation Cohort

 

Presenter: Dr. White

Discussion:

Dr. Kevin White gave some history on this project and the different areas that have similar wastewater issues that are taking part. In March 2022, a policy document created by these cohorts was presented to the EPA and congressional leaders which included funding issues, O&M issues, data collection issues, and more. This will be followed up at the University of North Carolina Water Conference later this month to discuss elements of that policy document. It will also focus on the impact of open communication on these issues.

Dr. Mark Elliott suggests it would be beneficial to compile a list of all barriers and bottlenecks that may not usually be considered (e.g. heir properties) and discuss possible solutions. He offered to reach out to Sherry to work on a bullet list for onsite systems and to Allen Bowen and others to develop a bullet list for network systems and connecting to existing systems.

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Connect with others on developing barriers list

Dr. Mark Elliott

None given

Open Discussion:

Victoria Miller introduced herself. She is with the Alabama Rivers Alliance. They would like to become CARWW members.

Mark Elliott requested that she send a logo to Lacey Christian to be added to the consortium website.

Kevin White offered to send the consortium agreement to Victoria for signature.

Next Meeting Date and Time: March 2023

Time of Adjournment: 12:10 PM

Consortium for Alabama Rural Water and Wastewater Management

Meeting #: 7

Location: Remote via Zoom

Date: May 19, 2022

Time: 10:30 AM

Attendees:

Name

Description

Aaron Blackwell

MS student at UA

Allen Bowen

USDA Community Prog Director for AL

Brendan Held

EPA Region 4 Water division

Cara Stallman

Grant consultant

Chris Spencer

Black Belt Community Foundation

Christopher Lindsay

IAPMO

Daphne Lutz

ADEM Water division

Delphine Lee

Rep. Terri Sewell

Dennis Hallahan

Infiltrator

Emily Anderson

ADEM Water division

Emily McGlohn

Auburn Rural Studio

Emily Volkmar

Aqualateral

Evan Wilks

Development Officer at USA

Harry McCaskill

MS student at USA

Helenor Bell

HT Bell Connections/Town of Yellow Bluff

James Weyhenmeyer

VP of Research and Economic Dev AU

Jillian Maxcy-Brown

MS student at UA

Kevin White

Professor Emeritus at USA

Lacey Christian

Research Project Coordinator at USA

Lynn Broadus

WEF/Broadview Collaborative

Lynne Chronister

VP of Research and Economic Dev USA

Mara Lindsley

EPA Region 4 Water division

Mark Elliott

Associate professor at UA

Matt Inbusch

International Paper

Megan Lott

Postdoc at UNC

Mostafa Firouzjaei

Postdoc at UA

Nick Lawkis

Executive Director of Govt Relations USA

Rachel Chai

MS student at USA

Rilyn Todd

MS student at UA

Sara Schwetschenau

Columbia Water Center Postdoc

Sarah Silliman

Columbia World Projects

Sharlene Newman

Alabama Life Research Institute at UA

Sherry Bradley

ADPH Director/BBUWP

Susannah Cleveland

Senator Richard Shelby

Troy Benavidez

American Standard

Upmanu Lall

Columbia Water Center Director

 

Minutes:

Agenda Item: Welcome & Introduction of Guests, Overview of Consortium

Presenter: Dr. Kevin White

Discussion:

The consortium agreement was acknowledged and described as non-binding.

The agreement is signed by many but not all members (there is NO financial commitment

required).


Dr. White discussed incoming federal infrastructure funds.

Federal infrastructure funds are coming to the black belt region.

Some funds are coming through the consortium for the purpose of installing individual onsite and/or

clustered systems.

We are in the process of utilizing those funds to install those systems as demonstrations if not

permanent structures.


Dr. White states a need for a discussion of how we can better start to publicize consortium activities.

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Make the agreement available for remaining members to sign

Dr. White/Dr. Elliott/Lacey Christian

Fall meeting

Publicize consortium activities

Dr. White/Dr. Elliott/Lacey Christian

Fall meeting

 

Agenda Item: Consortium Website Introduction and Media Coverage Review

Presenter: Lacey Christian

Discussion:

The consortium website-

Now complete and live at http://ruralwastewater.southalabama.edu/

Features some embedded videos that focus on the wastewater issues in the Alabama Black Belt.

The consortium agreement is featured on the “Who We Are” page.

The “Consortium Members” page features logos for each member that link to your websites.

Members were asked to notify Lacey Christian if there is an issue with their logo or link.

The “Facing the Issues” page shares information about the wastewater issues in the Alabama Black

Belt.

The “Finding Solutions” page shares information about consortium projects.

The “Events” page features past and upcoming consortium events. Members were asked to contact

Lacey Christian if they would like any relevant events added here.

The “For Kids!” page features educational resources for children including videos, educational posters,

and printable activity sheets.


Media coverage-

The Black Belt wastewater issues and consortium activities have received media coverage since the

last consortium meeting including being featured on 60 minutes and in a New York Times article.

All media coverage is available for viewing on the website on the “In The News” page.

Members were asked to contact Lacey Christian if they have any relevant media to add to the website.


Dr. Elliott called for attendees to introduce themselves. Short introduction notes can be found in the

attendees table under “Description”.

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Contact LC for issues with logo or link on members page

All

None

Contact LC to add events to the events page

All

None

Contact LC to add relevant media to the media page

All

None

 

Agenda Item: American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding

Presenter: Drs. White/Elliott

Discussion:

State legislature/Governor has control over ARPA funding & pre-allocated $5 million.

$2.2 million is going to Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) for individual onsite wastewater treatment systems (directed by Sherry Bradley).

$2.8 million is coming through the University of South Alabama (USA) in the name of the Consortium for Alabama Rural Water and Wastewater Management (CARWW) to be used for construction costs associated with decentralized cluster systems.

First targeted location is in Newbern, AL in Hale county (partnering with Auburn University (AU)/

Auburn Rural Studio).

We hope to show that we can remotely monitor and operate these decentralized systems.

Any remaining of this $2.8 million will go to other decentralized systems.

There will be additional ARPA funds next year and we hope to be able to show the need for other

infrastructure support for additional funding.

Dr. White is already communicating with state finance directors and providing prioritized lists of

communities in need.

Dr. White announced that the Civil SE report for wastewater needs (funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Reinventing Rural Wastewater Management funds) has been completed for 5 Black Belt counties and additional studies are being discussed.

ADEM has roughly $1 billion to spend on water and wastewater, yet applications have already been

submitted for over $2.2 billion.


Christopher Lindsay asks if the $2.2 million for ADPH will be intended for the Black Belt Unincorporated Wastewater Program (BBUWP).

Sherry Bradley answers that the $2.2 million is earmarked for Lowndes County through BBUWP.


Christopher Lindsay asks about the $2.8 million.

Dr. White answers that this is state ARPA money to be used to install a decentralized cluster demonstration system in Newbern and any remaining to additional decentralized clusters.


Helenor Bell asks if any funds earmarked for Yellow Bluff and states that they are close to submitting

an application.

Dr. Elliott states that no funds are currently set aside, but ADEM has stated a desire to allocate some

amount to Black Belt projects and Yellow Bluff would be on the list of priority locations.

Dr. White answers that if funds are left over from this first ARPA grant after Newbern, Yellow Bluff is on

our priority list.


Dr. White stressed the importance of these communities applying for State Revolving Fund (SRF) funding with the help of grant writers/engineering firms.

Brendan Held states there will be technical assistance available to help with these applications through an EPA/United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program that will roll out soon.


Dr. White discussed the How-To Guide currently in development (as part of the EPA Reinventing Rural

Wastewater Management project) that will offer guidance for these communities on how to acquire

funding etc., and how it might be good to cooperate with EPA as they develop their TA program.

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Discussions with EPA on How-To Guide

Dr. White/Dr.Elliott/Brendan Held

Prior to How-To Guide completion

 

Agenda Item: Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) – SRF and ADPH Funds Distribution Update

Presenter: Daphne Lutz

Discussion:

ADEM has a website dedicated to infrastructure funding: Alabamawaterprojects.com

This website provides information on the funding with videos, listings of applicants, a fact sheet, FAQ,

information on allocation of funds, etc.,

ARPA funds of $120 million to be allocated to water and sewer systems for emergency/high-need

projects, $100 million for projects (may require local matching funds), $5 for Black Belt demonstration

projects.

Alabama is expected to receive $765 million of BIL funds.

Resources are available through ADEM and EPA for communities that need assistance in applying.

ADEM has sent emails to all WWTPs asking for collection system boundaries to see if it may be

beneficial to expand those territories, and is looking at which WWTPs have violations/are high-need.


Chris Spencer asked if funds are set aside for BB communities.

Daphne Lutz answered that there are specific funds earmarked for those projects and there will be a

focus on assisting the Black Belt region.


Dr. Elliott comments that it seems that a large portion of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funds will be allocated for lead abatement/pfas.

Daphne Lutz states that a lot of the BIL funds will be allocated to wastewater as well.

ADEM usually deals with the large systems and will be speaking with ADPH to determine how to best

allocate funds for smaller systems.


Dr. Elliott asked about a pot of money that allows for funding for circuit rider programs.

Brendan Held states that this was authorized in the legislation.

Daphne Lutz states that the SFR group is discussing this.

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:



  

 

Agenda Item: BBUWP

Presenter: Sherry Bradley

Discussion:

BBUWP is receiving $2.2 million from ARPA for Lowndes County.

USDA funding that was approved a year ago for $2.1 million has been greenlit.

Some unnamed funding for Alabama was cut by 25%. Brian Espy is working to get these funds

re-promised to Alabama.


BBUWP has only been approving conventional systems because there is a backlog and price increase.

Troy Benavidez states that they held a media event with The International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) and the International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Foundation (IWISH) and upcoming media events are in the planning phases for important milestones.


The Department of Justice investigated ADPH for violations and found no wrongdoing.

The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division from Washington D.C. will be coming for a week and will be hosted by Sherry Bradley on June 23.


Susannah Cleveland offered to assist in re-acquiring the 25% funding that was cut.

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Hosting Civil Rights Division

Sherry Bradley

June 23, 2022

Connect Brian Espy and congressional staff to prevent 25% loss of funds

Dr. Elliott/Susannah Cleveland

None given

 

Agenda Item: USEPA Reinventing Rural Wastewater

Presenter: Drs. White/Elliott

Discussion:

(Skipped for time. These topics were somewhat covered already.)

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:



  

 

Agenda Item: Columbia World Projects – Decentralized Demonstration

Presenter: Drs. White/Elliott

Discussion:

This project is moving into the second phase starting on July 1.

This project includes Auburn University, Auburn Rural Studio, University of Alabama, University of

South Alabama, University of California Irvine, University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, and

Columbia University.

UNC Chapel Hill is running a baseline study for pathogen exposure risk.

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:



  

 

Agenda Item: USDA Training Grant Award (Regional Wastewater)

Presenter: Lacey Christian/BBCF/Dr. Barnett

Discussion:

Education and outreach materials that have been produced (brochures, powerpoints, videos,

children’s activity sheets, lesson plans for teachers (in the works), and half-day workshops (beginners

level is complete and advanced level is in the works) including presentations, workbooks, group

activities, and facilitators notes).

Topics covered in E&O materials were reviewed.

Anyone who wants to request materials on a specific topic should contact Lacey Christian.

Target audiences and current outreach progress were reviewed.


The Black Belt Sanitation Review Paper is primarily led by master’s students at UA, AU, and USA.

Headed by Jillian Maxcy-Brown and Dr. Mark Barnett is the principal investigator.

This will be ready to be submitted as a review paper by this summer.


The Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF) is working with Dr. White and Lacey Christian on outreach efforts.

BBCF has had some progress with Forkland, AL and York, AL who have existing systems in need of

rehab and expansion.

BBCF will be on the ground in Newbern, AL as well.

A Wastewater Summit is in talks to bring county commissioners, mayors, and community members

together to learn about wastewater issues/solutions and potentially connect with grant writers.

There is an engineering firm that wants to donate time to assist with planning.

We are in talks with Emelle, Gainesville, and Geiger about their grinder pump issues.


Cara Stallman confirms that Forkland and Emelle, Gainesville, and Geiger have submitted ARPA fund applications.


Daphne Lutz stated that York has applied for a rehab project as well and all application records are available on the website.


The Yellow Bluff application is in the works. Helenor Bell would like to connect with Matt Insbusch about property usage for this project.


Daphne Lutz instructed communities without an existing system and with emergency need to mark as “non-compliance” on their application and describe issues (affecting waterways, etc.,) to flag these applications for review.

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Contact Lacey Christian with requests for E&O topics

All

None

Completion of Black Belt Review 

Drs. White, Elliott, and Barnett

Summer

Wastewater Summit planning

Chris Spencer, Emily McGlohn, Dr. White, Dr. Elliot, et al.

 

Check statuses of ARPA applications

Dr. Elliott

 

Connect Helenor Bell and Matt Inbush

Dr. Elliott

 

 

Agenda Item: Dig Deep Decentralized WW Innovation Cohort – Policy Suggestions to Congress/Agencies

Presenter: Sherry Bradley

Discussion:

(Skipped.)

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:



  

 

Agenda Item: ADPH – Ground surface effluent discharge

Presenter: Sherry Bradley

Discussion:

ADPH has changed onsite wastewater rules to accommodate innovative designs.

Issues have arisen with the setbacks required for on-ground discharge. Only residents with 2 or more

acres of land can meet the setback requirements.

Two properties have been selected to build an on-ground discharge system with FujiClean treatment

through BBUWP.

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Installation of 2 on-ground discharge systems

BBUWP/Sherry Bradley

June 23, 2022

 

Open Discussion:

Decentralized wastewater program through the EPA needs funding. Christopher Lindsay would like to issue a letter with support from CARWW members requesting funds.

There is a new bill for the WASH Sector Development Act (Bill # S3893) that creates a parallel program for decentralized water access and puts funding to set aside to determine how many homes don’t have water and sanitation access (by congressional district) and determine the cost of providing universal access. Chris Lindsay would also like to circulate a letter signed by CARWW members in support of this bill.

There is a new bill for the Healthy H2O Act (Bill # S4081) that creates more grant funds for homes that have impacted water quality. Chris Lindsay would also like to circulate a letter signed by CARWW members in support of this bill.

Lynne Broadus ran this legislation by some of the staff at WEF to see if they would be in support. She was told that there would be additional adjustments made and would like to know if these changes have happened so she can expedite WEFs support of the bill. She and Christopher Linsday will get in contact.

Sharlene Newman discussed the importance of finding avenues to help subsidize monthly payments for low-income residents. Dr. Elliott explains that SRF funds can not be used to subsidize monthly costs, but some paths towards covering these costs are being considered. The circuit rider system may be able to fund operator costs which would significantly lower monthly costs. Sharlene Newman requests that efforts be made to educate these communities on this. Lacey Christian was requested to make E&O materials on this topic (in the chat).

Troy Benavidez is offering PR and communication resources from American Standard to CARWW.

Meeting minutes will be shared with attendees. Members were notified that they should contact Dr. Barnette or Lacey Christian if they do not want their contact information shared with other attendees.

 

Next Meeting Date and Time: Fall 2022

Time of Adjournment: 12:05

Consortium for Alabama Rural Water and Wastewater Management

Meeting #: 6

Location: Remote via Zoom

Date: October 1, 2021

Time: 10:30 AM

Attendees:

o   Alan Nipp

o   Allen Bowen

o   Amal Bakchan

o   Amy Chatham

o   Anniestacia Miskel

o   Cara Stallman

o   Carey

o   Christopher Lindsay

o   Christopher Spencer

o   Daphne Lutz

o   Delphine Lee

o   Dennis Hallahan

o   Dr. Kevin White

o   Dr. Mark Elliot

o   Ehsan Zolghadr

o   Emily Anderson

o   Emily McGlohn

o   Harry McCaskill

o   James Weyhenmeyer

o   Jeff Kitchens

o   Jillian Maxcy-Brown

o   Jimbo Carlson

o   Lacey Christian

o   Lynne Chronister

o   Mark Barnette

o   Matt Inbusch

o   Michael Webster

o   Mostafa Dadashi Firouzjaei

o   Rachel Chai

o   Sara Schwetschenau

o   Sarah Silliman

o   Scott Rayder

o   Sherry Bradley

o   Susannah Cleveland

o   Will Barrett

o   Will Brewster

Minutes:

Agenda Item:

Welcome and Intro of Guests/Overview of Consortium Agreement

Presenter:

Dr. Kevin White

Discussion:

Welcome/introduction.

Introduced guests.

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

  

Agenda Item:

Consortium Website Draft

Presenter:

Dr. Mark Elliot

Discussion:

Provided quick overview of website drafted by Mostafa Dadashi Firouzjaei (student of Dr. Elliot).

Checked that addition of logos and links is ok with members.

Reviewed dropdown menu & discussed adding media coverage, project links, donate button, etc,.

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Add Auburn Rural Studio Logo

 

Emily McGlohn/Dr. Elliot

 

LCUWP name has changed, new logo will be provided

Sherry Bradley/Dr. Elliot

 

UAB link provided in chat

Home

Amy Hudson Chatham

 

Discussion re: Infiltrator/private company logos

 

Dr. Elliot/Dennis Hallahan

 

Agenda Item:

Lowndes County WW Pilot Project – Project Update

Presenter:

Sherry Bradley

Discussion:

Name change: “Blackbelt Unincorporated Wastewater Program”

New office shared with Steven Speaks (the engineer on the design).

USDA funding for LCUWP was rescinded and a new application is being submitted under the new name.

Project committed to 100-175 homes.

Discussed ownership of treatment systems & consequences of unpaid bills for homeowners.

Non-profit management entity to manage O&M funds.

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Finding real estate attorney

 

Sherry Bradley

 

Agenda Item:

Lowndes County WW Pilot Project – Lixil/FujiClean Installations

Presenter:

Sherry Bradley

Discussion:

Met with Lixil/FujiClean in Lowndes County.

Tanks utilized will be produced by FujiClean. Can be shipped in bulk & a nearby warehouse has agreed to house tanks until ready to use.

Lixil and IAPMO visited homes listed for installation: 10 on wait list, 4 installed, 1 about to be installed.

Lixil/IAPMO donated low flow fixtures.

Christopher Lindsay: Discussed low flow fixture benefits including lower demand on systems and lower water bills.

Sherry Bradley: Water bills “cut in half,” residents can use savings to pay wastewater bill.

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

FujiClean, Lixil, IAPMO meeting

 

Christopher Lindsay

 

Collect hard data for flow rate reduction and cost reduction

 

Christopher Lindsay/Dr. White

 

Exploring policy changes to support funding for O&M

Dr. White

 

Agenda Item:

Lowndes County WW Pilot Project – Media Event Planning

Presenter:

Dr. White

Discussion:

Covid has prevented this from happening so far.

Time TBD – hopefully in the next few months.

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

  

Agenda Item:

USDA-RD-Alabama – Lowndes Projects Update

Presenter:

Allen Bowen

Discussion:

$2.4 million dollars obligated, will be de-obligated.

Sherry Bradley finalizing new application for the funds.

Suggested Memorandum of Understanding between water and wastewater authority to cut off water service if sewer bill is unpaid. Sherry stated that she has asked the sewer board to work together on three occasions, but as of right now they have not agreed to work together on this project.

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Funds de-obligated

 

Allen Bowen

Oct 20th

Submit new application

 

Sherry Bradley/Allen Bowen

 

Agenda Item:

USDA-RD-Alabama – Uniontown Update/Other Projects

Presenter:

Allen Bowen

Discussion:

Current projects:

·        Fort Deposit – extending sewer to multi-family housing complexes and businesses

·        Mosses – 300 homes, effluent sewer, and new treatment system

·        Uniontown – In the bid process for updating/repairing collection system. All have come in within or close to budget. Next action is to award contract. Rain infiltration is overburdening current system, and the flow will be evaluated once these leaks are repaired.

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Award contract

 

Allen Bowen

 

 

Pre-construction conference

 

Allen Bowen

 

Agenda Item:

USEPA GOM Reinventing Rural WW – Technologies/Life Cycle Cost

Presenter:

Drs. White/Elliot

Discussion:

Developing how-to guide for local communities including regulatory aspect, affordable technologies, O&M, management models, disposal, reuse.

Testing onsite blackwater only systems.

Long hydraulic retention time constructed wetland.

Baseline water quality study.

Identifying funding gaps.

Decreasing fouling in decentralized systems.

Characterize types of onsite failures.

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Management entity survey

 

Amal Bachchan/Dr. White

 

How-To Guide first draft

 

Jillian Maxcy-Brown/Dr. Elliot

 

 

  

Agenda Item:

USEPA GOM Reinventing Rural WW – Evaporative Sand Mounds

Presenter:

Dr. White

Discussion:

Only seeing 3 or 4 gallons per day max in rainy weather with dosing at 50 gallons per day.

Seem effective so far.

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

  

Agenda Item:

USEPA GOM Reinventing Rural WW – WW Needs Study

Presenter:

Will Barrett, CivilSE

Discussion:

Finding that there are limited septic drainage soils on 90% of five county area (Hale, Perry, Wilcox, Lowndes, Dallas).

Some existing treatment plants with excess capacity that could be extended.

Some outlying areas that will require separate systems.

Identifying clusters of 100-150.

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Finalizing report

 

Will Barrett

 

 

  

 

  

 

  

Agenda Item:

Columbia World Projects – Health Studies

Presenter: Amy Hutson Chatham

Discussion:

3 CDC cooperative agreements

Stool sampling (Wilcox, Lowndes, Perry)

·        Microscopy

·        PCR

·        All verified with CDC

Meeting with county commissions

Outreach with Rural Health Medical Program & West Central Alabama AHAC

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

  

Agenda Item:

Columbia World Projects – Decentralized Demonstration

Presenter:

Dr. White/Dr. Elliot

Discussion:

Phase 1: Auburn Rural Studio in Hale County

·        Installation of modular wastewater system

·        Expanding to Newbern & further

 

Columbia University & University of California Irvine

·        Scaling of decentralized systems

·        Evaluating from technology and cost perspective

·        Uniontown as a model community

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

System installed

 

 

This time next year

Agenda Item:

USDA Training Grant Award

Presenter:

Dr. White

Discussion:

Identifying additional decentralized clusters, design, and permit systems.

Construction funds would need to come from elsewhere

Blackbelt Community Foundation is on board.

Creating handout and video materials.

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

  

Agenda Item: DigDeep Decentralized WW Innovation Cohort – Convenings 1 & 2

Presenter:

Dr. White

Discussion:

Multi-day symposium for information exchange.

Lowndes county, Alaska, Navaho nation, Hawaii

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

  

Agenda Item: DigDeep Decentralized WW Innovation Cohort – Policy Suggestions to Congress/Agencies

Presenter:

Dr. White

Discussion:

Overarching goal is making policy suggestions.

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

  

Agenda Item: DigDeep Decentralized WW Innovation Cohort – Information Exchange/Alaska Takeaways

Presenter:

Sherry Bradley

Discussion:

Limitations due to permafrost.

Currently using surface discharge dosed onto a vegetative area.

ADPH updated onsite wastewater rules based on the success of the systems in Alaska.

·        Adding definitions for innovative system design

·        Including surface discharge (spray irrigation for onsite systems)

·        Basing some rules on soil percolation rates

·        Deciding standards for alternative disposals

 

Daphne Lutz:

ADEM is open to looking at these options.

They would like to look at some trial systems.

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

New rule finalization

 

Sherry Bradley

November 1

New rule implementation

 

Sherry Bradley

February 1

Agenda Item:

Blackbelt Wastewater Review Paper

Presenter:

Dr. Mark Barnett

Discussion:

USDA funded review paper documenting written information about Blackbelt wastewater.

This will be published as a review article.

Some interest in organizing a conference.

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Request for additional sources

 

Anyone

 

Agenda Item:

UNLEASH HACK – Alabama Blackbelt Sanitation

Presenter:

Anniestacia Miskell

Discussion:

Introduced by Dr. White.

10 to 15 sustainability challenges addressed each year. Lowndes county blackbelt sanitation issue was covered this year virtually with 25-30 people on June 5 and June 12.

 

Outcomes: Expanded scope from Lowndes County to the whole Blackbelt region.

Many community leaders, commissioners, health experts, sanitation experts, and international students.

Breakout teams worked on solutions for problems via discussion.

Winning solution focused on Uniontown and the additional strain due to industry.

Meeting bi-weekly and planning to do community workshop.

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

  

Agenda Item: Alabama Department of Environmental Management – Surface/Subsurface Discharge Permitting

Presenter:

Jeff Kitchens

Discussion:

Billie Jean Washer and Joe Kelley are no longer working on this. Jeff Kitchens and Jimbo Carlson are the new contacts.

Dr. White: We have been considering direct injection of treated effluent into aquifers as an option for some of the decentralized clusters.

 

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Set up meeting to discuss direct injection

Dr. White, Dr. Elliot, Jeff Kitchens, Jimbo Carlson

 

Agenda Item:

Blackbelt Community Foundation

Presenter:

Chris Spencer

Discussion:

Blackbelt Community Foundation currently serves 12 counties which include the counties targeted by these projects.

They are happy to be a part of the effort.

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

  

Agenda Item:

Representative Terri Sewell’s Office

Presenter:

Delphine Lee

Discussion:

They are happy to contribute however they can & assist in securing additional funding.

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Getting information to Dr. White re: new infrastructure bill

Delphine Lee

 

Agenda Item:

Senator Richard Shelby’s Office

Presenter: Susannah Cleveland/Will Brewster

Discussion:

They also expressed support and committed to sending more information about the new infrastructure bill and what funding might be available for these projects.

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

Getting information to Dr. White re: new infrastructure bill

  

Agenda Item:

Alabama Governor’s Office (Water Policy)

Presenter:

Annabel Roth

Discussion:

None present to speak.

 

Dr. White: We are attempting to secure funding from the governor’s office to help cover construction costs.

 

Conclusion:

 

Action Items:

Person Responsible:

Deadline:

 

  

Open Discussion/Collaboration:

Dr. White: University of North Carolina Water Center water and health conference (virtual)

Dr. White will be presenting poster and discuss eliminating “silos.”

 

Alan Nipp: There are systems in Mississippi and Arkansas that successfully treat water and utilize surface discharge. The main issues can be in O&M. Anyone is welcome to tour some sites with him.

 

Sherry Bradley: FujiClean provided a list of States allowing surface discharge.

 

Cara Stallman: There are opportunities for funding through the American Rescue Plan and State of Alabama has approximately 200 million becoming available next year for water and wastewater infrastructure. Cara will provide funding information as it comes available.

 

Sherry Bradley: Was invited to Perry County Commissioner meeting by Robert Turner who discussed American Rescue Plan money. She will find out more.

 

Anniestacia Miskel: Asking which areas in the Blackbelt have the greatest “unaddressed need” so new efforts can target areas that are not currently being helped.

Suggested areas: Sumter, Green, Wilcox, Pickens, Russell, Macon, Bullock

Dr. White: Additional funds in UDSA grant for potential needs studies.

 

Sherry Bradley: A key focus should be affordability.

 

Dr. White: State revolving loan fund could be potentially be utilized for onsite systems in the future.

 

Chris Spencer: Suggests getting Marcus Campbell, from the association of county commissioners for the state of Alabama, on board.

 

Dr. White: Discussed potential for conference or workshop in the future and keeping pressure on elected officials. Asked Chris Spencer to reach out to Marcus Campbell to set up a meeting.

 

Suzannah Cleveland: Will try to set up meetings with Mr. Cochran(?) and Brian Parker from Alabama League of Municipalities for Dr. White.

 

Next Meeting Date and Time: March

Time of Adjournment: 12:36 PM

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