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EPA announces $20 million in grants to help bolster water workforce

  • EPA announces $20 million in grants to help bolster water workforce

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United States Environmental Protection Agency. The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing the availability of over $20 million in grant funding to support training for workers who protect and treat our nation’s drinking water and provide critical wastewater services. Through the Innovative Water Infrastructure Workforce Development Grant program, EPA will support training and career opportunities in the water sector. With the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investment in water infrastructure, growing and sustaining the water sector workforce is more important than ever for ensuring clean and safe water for generations to come.

"The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to Investing in America, and that means investing in the workers that build and operate our nation’s water systems,” said EPA Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “Our Innovative Water Infrastructure Workforce Development Grant Program supports local programs that help people get the training they need to enter the water workforce or the necessary upskilling to advance in their careers.”

Frontline workers at water and wastewater treatment utilities across the country are central to public health, environmental, and economic well-being in all communities, big and small. The water industry is facing wide-spread shortages of qualified workers due to expected retirements, needed investments in the nation’s infrastructure, and new technical and scientific skill sets required to operate and maintain these systems. Current estimates indicate that as many as one-third of water workers will be eligible to retire within the next 5-10 years.

The focus of the Innovative Water Infrastructure Workforce Development Grant program is to build a strong pool of skilled and diverse workers in the water and wastewater utilities sector. This grant program supports collaboration among federal, state, and local governments and institutions of higher education, apprentice programs, labor organizations, high schools, and other community-based organizations to provide access to workforce opportunities and build career pipelines in the water sector. There are six program areas:

  • Targeted internships apprenticeships for skilled water utility trades.
  • Education programs designed for elementary, secondary, and higher education students.
  • Regional industry and workforce development collaborations to hiring qualified candidates.
  • Leadership development, occupational training, mentoring, or cross-training programs that support career advancement.
  • Education and training programs designed for decentralized (septic) water workers to support public health for communities that rely on private wells for drinking water or septic systems.
  • Training and development for workforce development programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants to benefit disadvantaged communities.

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