Addressing Crucial Water Issues in Our Communities

This year, we here at EPA celebrate the 20th anniversary of President Clinton signing Executive Order 12898, which directed federal agencies to address environmental disparities in minority and low-income communities. We’ve certainly accomplished a lot since the order was signed, but sadly, too many people still breathe dirty air, live near toxic waste dumps, or lack reliable access to clean water. But we continue to make progress in all of those areas, and here in EPA’s Office of Water, I’m proud of how we’re helping communities across America—both rural and urban—address their most crucial water issues.

Last fall, I was in Laredo, Texas and visited a community near the U.S.-Mexico border called the colonias, which until recently did not have regular access to clean water. Thanks to funding from EPA’s U.S.-Mexico Border Infrastructure Program, 3,700 people in the colonias now have access to a modern sewer system. We also have a program that provides funding for the planning, design and construction of wastewater infrastructure for American Indian and Alaskan Native communities. Providing access to clean water to people who have never had it before is one of the most important things we have the power and resources to do.

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Addressing Critical Water Access Issues along the U.S.-Mexico Border

In most parts of the United States, regular access to water is an afterthought. We open our taps or turn on our faucets and out comes all the water we need for cooking, drinking, bathing and cleaning. But some communities, including many along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, lack access to the abundant, clean water that most of us enjoy every day. EPA, through its U.S.-Mexico border water infrastructure program, is working to address critical public health and environmental problems at the source by providing often first-time drinking and wastewater services to underserved communities.

Last month, I traveled to Laredo, Texas, and was able to see firsthand exactly how this program is helping provide communities there, known as colonias, with their first-ever access to drinking water and sewer systems. Many people in the colonias have not had regular access to water and modern sanitation systems because that type of infrastructure was not required to be installed at the time the properties were sold and their houses built.

This small water treatment plant near the U.S.-Mexico border provides about 3,700 people in the Laredo, Texas area with sewer system access, many for the first time. Photo credit: Stephanie Von Feck, EPA.

This small water treatment plant near the U.S.-Mexico border provides about 3,700 people in the Laredo, Texas area with sewer system access, many for the first time. Photo credit: Stephanie Von Feck, EPA.

 

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Working Together to Ensure Chemical Facility Safety

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EPA has several programs in place to reduce the risks associated with hazardous chemicals. With the President’s Executive Order on Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security, we plan to expand our efforts under our Risk Management Program and our Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Community Right-to-Know programs to ensure chemical facility safety.

Our goals in the Executive Order are to:

  • Leverage the stakeholder network already in place with trade associations, environmental organizations, industry, and labor unions to identify best practices;
  • Improve coordination with and provide assistance to state and local partners;
  • Enhance data sharing and coordination among federal agencies; and
  • Modernize policies, regulations, and standards.

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Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.