The University of New Mexico’s Southwest Environmental Finance Center will receive $6.2 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for training and technical assistance to small drinking water and wastewater systems serving mostly small communities throughout the United States and its territories.

Last month, the EPA announced its selection of training and technical assistance providers who will have $30.7 million to support water systems and private well owners in small and rural communities. This grant funding will support water systems with building technical, financial, and managerial capacity and will also assist private well owners with improving water quality, including testing for contaminations by PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as “forever chemicals”).

UNM will receive $5 million to provide training and technical assistance for small, public water systems to achieve and maintain compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, including improving financial and managerial capacity. It also will receive $1.2 million to work with small, publicly owned wastewater and on-site/decentralized wastewater systems to improve water quality.

Since 2012, this EPA grant has provided over $170 million in funding to technical assistance and training providers. These providers meet communities where they are and help them with water infrastructure challenges through circuit-rider and multi-state regional technical assistance programs, training and site visits, and focused efforts to diagnose and troubleshoot system operational and compliance-related problems and identify solutions.

Others receiving funding from the grant are the Rural Community Assistance Partnership and the National Rural Water Association.

UNM’s Southwest Environmental Finance Center, a part of the Gerald May Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, offers a variety of services that promote self-reliance through innovative training. Among the center’s services are tribal water operator certification, asset management for green and gray infrastructure; GIS; rates studies and financial sustainability; affordability; managerial assistance; process development; resiliency; regulatory research and analysis; and energy management.