The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently awarded an Aquarius award to WCSA. WCSA was selected as Virginia’s entry into the award program and won the national award in the Excellence in Community Engagement focus area.
The Aquarius award is a national honor recognizing excellence in the areas of innovative financing, partnership and problem solving, plus work to improve water quality and public health protection.
WCSA was recognized for a collaborative, low-cost financing partnership that helped residents of Rattle Creek Road in Washington County receive safe, affordable drinking water through a water system extension to previously unserved existing residents. The partnership involved collaboration with the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the Office of Drinking Water and the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and included construction of approximately 6,000 linear feet of waterline and related appurtenances.
“This project demonstrates the innovation that can be achieved through community engagement,” says Kelly Ward, DWSRF director, Office of Drinking Water, Virginia Department of Health. “WCSA partnered with the community to plan and design a solution, and assist in the search for funding options for this project. The end result provided public health protection in the form of safe and reliable drinking water for this community.”
In late 2018, Rattle Creek Road residents approached WCSA about the possibility of bringing water to the community, and WCSA embarked on the process of bacteriological testing, soliciting user agreements for a potential water line extension project, and applying for funding to support the project costs. Funding was received for the project in 2018. Construction began in early 2019, and work to connect homes along Rattle Creek Road was completed that same year.
“We were excited to receive this funding, and we are honored to receive this award in recognition for our community engagement efforts for the Rattle Creek Road Water Line Extension Project,” says Robbie Cornett, general manager for WCSA. “It is always our goal to provide exceptional water and wastewater service to our existing customers, as well as expand our water distribution and wastewater collection systems to better serve the needs of the residents in our community. With approximately 3,727 existing countywide residents without access to public water, the funding enabled WCSA to complete the necessary improvements to provide our Rattle Creek neighbors with a reliable source of clean drinking water for the very first time.”
As a result of the project, community members who previously relied on wells and springs no longer have to worry about unsafe drinking water during periods of heavy rainfall or low water pressure, work to manually haul water from springs during power outages, or experience loss of access to water sources as a result of underground freezing during cold weather.