Bipartisan Group of Senators Announces New Wastewater Assistance Legislation

February 13, 2020 | General RCAP News

The “Decentralized Wastewater Grant Act of 2019” will prioritize funding to households and communities without access to function wastewater systems

Washington, DC — On Tuesday, February 11 on the Senate floor a group of bipartisan Senators including Sens. Booker (D-NJ), Capito (R-WV), Jones (D-AL) and Schatz (D-HI) introduced the “Decentralized Wastewater Grant Act of 2019”. This legislation is an important first step in providing much-needed assistance to communities across the country that are not connected to public sewer or water systems.

In the United States, public sewer systems do not extend to all communities. According to the U.S. Census, more than 1.7 million people in the U.S. lack access to basic plumbing facilities, with low-income and communities of color bearing most of the burden. Without an available sewer line, citizens must rely on onsite individualized systems (typically a type of septic system) to dispose of wastewater. Much of the time, the burden also falls on the household to maintain and install these systems, which can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to $30,000 and require regular maintenance to function properly. A failing onsite system can result in sewage overflow into people’s yards, and even their homes, causing serious public health and water quality concerns, along with degrading quality of life and exacerbating other socioeconomic problems.

The “Decentralized Wastewater Grant Act of 2019” will create a new grant program under the Clean Water Act to provide funding to low- and moderate-income households through a qualified nonprofit. The bill allows flexible solutions to best fit the needs of the household and community in need by allowing grants to be used for the construction, repair or replacement of a decentralized wastewater system, connection to a publicly owned treatment works, or the installation of a larger decentralized wastewater system to provide treatment to multiple households.

“‘The Decentralized Wastewater Grant Act of 2019’ is a very important step in addressing this widespread problem,” said RCAP CEO Nathan Ohle. “Every community and household across the United States have the right to safe and sanitary wastewater treatment. This bipartisan piece of legislation is vital to addressing the infrastructure needs of those communities not served by public water systems, especially the most vulnerable among us.”

RCAP thanks Senators Booker, Capito, Jones and Schatz for their leadership in introducing this important legislation and vows to continue working with national partners to advance this imperative work across the U.S.

Media Contact: Kinsey Brown, RCAP Communications Manager

(202) 800-4127

Thursday, February 13


About RCAP

RCAP is a national non-profit network providing opportunity, assistance, and practical guidance to small communities in all fifty states, U.S. territories, and tribal lands to ensure access to safe drinking water, sanitary wastewater disposal, and economic prosperity for all rural America. To learn more about RCAP, visit