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Pictured: Dennis Sternberg, Executive Director of the Arkansas Rural Water Association & U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) in the Senate EPW Committee Hearing Room

WASHINGTON–Greenbrier resident Dennis Sternberg outlined the challenges small towns and rural communities have in complying with federal Clean Water Act permits and operating complex wastewater treatment systems before the Senate Environmental & Public Works (EPW) Fisheries, Water and Wildlife Subcommittee during a hearing chaired by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR).

“Small and rural communities have more difficulty affording public wastewater service due to lack of population density and lack of economies of scale,” Sternberg told the subcommittee. “While we have fewer resources, we are regulated in the exact same manner as a large community - and often operating similarly complex treatment systems that are smaller in scale but no less sophisticated to operate and trouble-shoot.”

Sternberg is the Executive Director of the Arkansas Rural Water Association, a non-profit association of 563 small and rural community water utilities in Arkansas. During his testimony, he advocated for Senate-passage of the Small and Rural Community Clean Water Technical Assistance Act which would authorize two new technical assistance provisions would authorize two new technical assistance provisions to improve wastewater treatment in rural communities.

“My main message to the committee is that the small and rural communities in all states strongly support S. 518, the Small and Rural Community Clean Water Technical Assistance Act and we urge the committee and the Senate to pass it as soon as possible to help small communities with the operation of their wastewater utilities and compliance with all the federal regulations under the Clean Water Act,” Sternberg testified.

“The subcommittee was receptive of Mr. Sternberg’s insight and expertise and appreciative of his willingness to work with us so that we can help our small and rural communities address these challenges. We all want clean water, but communities are being asked to do more and more, and these requirements are all coming at once. We have to recognize that there are limits to how fast a community can act, particularly when meeting Clean Water Act mandates that can cost hundreds of millions, and in some cases billions, of dollars,” Boozman said. 

Boozman is a cosponsor of the Small and Rural Community Clean Water Technical Assistance Act