The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide a $4.85 million grant to the Consortium for Alabama Rural Water and Wastewater Management, a partner on the Columbia World Project Transforming Wastewater Infrastructure in the United States.
The grant, which was announced on Wednesday, will allow the Consortium to establish a technical assistance and training program and develop construction-ready plans for innovative rural wastewater treatment solutions in Alabama’s Black Belt region. It will significantly advance efforts already underway to address wastewater needs in Black Belt communities.
A portion of the USDA funds will directly support the Columbia World Project Transforming Wastewater Infrastructure in the United States, which launched in the fall of 2020. The project is piloting a sustainable approach to wastewater treatment in underserved communities in the Black Belt region of rural Alabama, where many households do not have access to the centralized wastewater treatment offered in many areas through public utilities. Alternatives like septic tanks are often incompatible with local soil and too costly for low-income households to maintain. This project aims to provide alternative wastewater treatment solutions that can be implemented in a manner that is equitable, technically feasible and financially sustainable. It seeks to demonstrate that better wastewater treatment systems can yield health, economic and environmental benefits for rural communities in the United States and around the world.