Working with Vulnerable Populations

Though water and waste challenges are abundant in small and rural communities, there are some vulnerable populations that are disproportionately impacted. Most of our services are available for communities/systems serving 10,000 and under, but RCAP makes a concentrated effort to provide services to the communities that need it most. This work is the core of RCAP’s mission to ensure everyone has access to safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater. With 72 percent of the nation’s approximately 150,000 public water systems serving communities of 500 or less, RCAP’s work with the smallest, most distressed communities is vital.

Whenever an issue arises, we know that RCAP is willing and able to assist us with whatever we need. They actually care about our city.

– Resident in Evarts Kentucky

Water and Wastewater

RCAP helps manage and implement Water and Wastewater Technical Assistance Programs through the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). We work in key rural communities throughout the U.S. and its territories, and on tribal lands, by providing hands-on, community-specific technical assistance and training to small water and wastewater systems serving 10,000 or fewer residents. With an increased ability to identify and tackle their own challenges, communities can better manage their assets, maintain compliance with state and federal water and wastewater regulations, work toward long-term sustainability, and adhere to loan and grant procedures and requirements before, during, and after an infrastructure project. RCAP takes a holistic approach where possible, identifying community needs and building local technical, managerial and financial capacity to meet those needs.

Special Focus Areas

Private Wells

RCAP manages an EPA-funded program to provide training and technical assistance for private well owners, stakeholders and environmental health professionals to help improve water quality and public health. This program includes the provision of comprehensive individual well assessments and water quality sampling. Learn more about private wells here.

Onsite/Decentralized Wastewater

RCAP also provides training, technical assistance and financial resources to assist individual homeowners, neighborhoods and entire communities that rely on failing septic systems for their waste disposal. RCAP can help troubleshoot issues and guide the feasibility process to explore long-term solutions to protect both people and the environment. RCAP also provides training on maintenance and upkeep to ensure septic and decentralized systems are properly maintained.

Tribal Water/Wastewater Technical Assistance

Though most of our environmental programs help to serve tribes, RCAP manages a USDA program for water and waste disposal technical assistance and training specifically for tribal communities. This program helps to protect public and environmental health and foster economic development in specific tribal communities throughout the United States by providing hands-on, community-specific and culturally relevant technical assistance and training that: identifies and evaluates solutions to water and waste disposal problems, assists tribal communities in preparing funding applications for their water and waste projects, trains tribal operators in order to gain or maintain their licenses and improves operation and maintenance of existing water and waste disposal facilities.


RCAP manages a USDA program for water and waste disposal technical assistance and training for communities along the U.S./Mexico Border known as the “Colonias.” According to the official numbers, more than 99 percent of Colonias residents have some level of drinking water service, and more than 90 percent have some level of wastewater service, however, in many cases, RCAP has found that water available in Colonias communities is not always safe or affordable or might be hauled into the community, making these percentages artificially higher than the reality on the ground. The RCAP Colonias program helps to protect public and environmental health and foster economic development in Colonias by providing hands-on, community-specific and often bilingual technical assistance and training that includes an emphasis on providing first-time services including the development of new and the interconnection with existing systems.

Rural Community Development

Through the HHS-funded Rural Community Development program, RCAP regional partners work with the smallest and lowest-income rural communities to provide training and technical assistance to increase access for low-income families to a safe water supply and waste disposal services.

Solid Waste

Supported by USDA’s Solid Waste Management Program, RCAP’s work helps reduce or eliminate the pollution of water resources through technical assistance and training to improve the planning and management of solid waste including both community-wide and school programs.

Disaster Recovery

RCAP has extensive experience working directly with small and rural public water/wastewater systems in the recovery phase after natural disasters. RCAP works to build resiliency in these infrastructure systems through proactive development of emergency response plans and vulnerability assessments, helping communities mitigate damage from natural disasters, and assists communities directly affected by a disaster in the immediate aftermath to ensure they can address the short-term and long-term needs of the community. Additionally, RCAP, through our network of partners, is able to provide real-time updates and community coordination with federal and state agencies post disaster.

We’re in the process of modernizing our plant. After that our next season will be spent updating our distribution system to allow analysis, control and automation. GIS is critical for us to track our distribution network improvements and will ultimately be a crucial foundation piece to our implementation and operation of centralized control systems. None of this would be possible without RCAP’s technical assistance and expertise. Our outlook is excellent.

Jessie Lavigne

Need more information?
Looking for assistance?

If you would like more information about these programs or assistance for your communities, please visit our “get assistance” page and reach out to us or our regional partners directly.