Drinking Water Technical Assistance and Training for Disadvantaged Communities in the California Central Valley

     The Water Resources and Policy Initiatives is pleased to announce a new WRPI Project entitled Drinking Water Technical Assistance and Training for Disadvantaged Communities in the California Central Valley.  This Project is grant funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) for the 2013-2014 year.

     California Central Valley's groundwater supply exceeds allowed standards for nitrates, arsenic, hexavalent chromium, and other contaminants in many locations.  Further exacerbating these issues, the Central Valley is home to many economically Disadvantaged Communities (DAC's), defined as being less than 80% of the state median household income, and these communities do not have the resources to develop the technical, managerial and financial capacity necessary to address their noncompliance with drinking water standards.  The objectives of this CSU system-wide Project are to review and disseminate scientific data to three Disadvantaged Community (DAC) stakeholder groups that can be used to support decision-making regarding problems in drinking water quality associated with agricultural, rural and urbanizing communities of the Central Valley, as well as to provide assistance for specific project funding and to leverage the knowledge generated into a statewide training program to expand the number of DAC's that could benefit from this knowledge.  The Project provides support for three CSU water expert faculty and three paid internships for full-time students that are enrolled at any of the twenty-three CSU campuses.

     The Drinking Water Technical Assistance and Training for Disadvantaged Communities in the California Central Valley Project team will work with the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) and an established Advisory Board to identify and prioritize prevalent drinking water issues and the effected DAC's in the San Joaquin Valley, with additional consultation with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Region 9, California Department of Public Health, County Public Health and Public Utility Departments, and public citizen groups.  Three local DAC's or grouping of DAC’s that meet the RUS Technical Assistance and Training Program requirements and are willing to work with our Project teams will be selected for assistance.  The Project will provide funding for CSU faculty experts to perform inventory evaluations of historical and existing conditions for those selected DAC's, identify water treatment options, evaluate solutions that address the identified drinking water issues, and work with key DAC stakeholders to support the inclusion of science-based decision making in groundwater- related planning and management documents including applications for project funding.  A Geographical Information Systems (GIS) database of the data identified for this Project will be created with assistance from the Project administrative team and disseminated to stakeholders, as appropriate and allowed by law. The Project will also provide paid internships to students to assist the faculty in the research, providing an invaluable experience for CSU students to be involved with and pursue careers in water use sustainability.  Some of this work is anticipated to be in the field working with DAC stakeholders.

     These evaluations and recommendations will produce local knowledge for the chosen DAC's to utilize to improve the conditions of their drinking water and to manage these assets sustainably over time.  These will be in the form of funding applications, reports, presentations, GIS database, and hands-on training/field visits.  The Project administrative team will assist the faculty and work with various CSU Colleges of Extended Learning to create a statewide training program utilizing the reports and training material developed by the Project team in conjunction with ACWA and the DAC's.  These certificate-type classes can be taken by other DAC's throughout the Central Valley, and California as a whole, for many years to come and will increase the number of DAC's that may benefit from this project.

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