Community-driven Solutions to Rural Water Needs

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Most people living in the United States take for granted that they have reliable systems to supply clean water and take away wastewater. However, over 2 million Americans lack access to adequate water sanitation systems, exposing them to unsafe conditions and leading to the rise of neglected diseases such as hookworm and cholera that are generally associated with developing countries. As many as 25% of homes in the United States, mostly in rural areas, are not connected to centralized water treatment facilities and instead use onsite household sanitation systems. Underground septic tanks and drainfields serve many households well, but can be hindered by issues with geology and installation, leading some households to resort to straight pipe sewers that discharge directly onto adjoining land. Low performing systems primarily affect low-income communities and communities of color. The lack of basic water access in turn impacts the health and livelihood of these communities, creating a vicious cycle of poverty. The issues that have led to gaps in sanitation access are multi-fold and include social, economic, and political factors, in addition to geological, ecological, and technical factors. In this panel, we will hear from speakers  with  science, engineering, and policy backgrounds who are working with rural communities  on solutions to address local water needs.


Julie Waechter

Chief Program Officer

Jimmy Jones

President and CEO
Axom Development

Jennifer Palmitto, PhD

Senior Federal Policy Advisor
National Rural Water Association

Moderator: Maria Claudia Reed

Subcommittee Chair
WEF Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH)


 October 12, 2021 , 2 - 3 PM ET

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Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally (ESAL) is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to increasing local government and community engagement by people with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Subscribe to our newsletter for notifications of future events.
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