Block 1

Advancing Environmental Justice

The mission of ASDWA’s environmental justice strategy is to advance health equity by identifying barriers within the drinking water sector and developing achievable and sustainable solutions for providing safe, reliable drinking water to all communities. Expand the sections to learn more about ASDWA’s two focus areas for addressing the unique needs of different communities.

Block 2

A New Era for the Drinking Water State Revolving Funds

Identifying Ways to Better Assist Disadvantaged Communities

With the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), state DWSRF programs across the country are receiving significant increases in federal funding for drinking water infrastructure. BIL has specific requirements for state programs distributing these funds, including a 49% subsidy requirement in the form of grants, principal forgiveness, or negative interest rate loans for communities deemed disadvantaged. The SDWA leaves defining what constitutes a “disadvantaged community” (DAC) up to the state DWSRF programs. In response to the release of BIL, EPA issued a memorandum: Implementation of the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Provisions on March 8, 2022. Among other things, the memo spelled out the Agency’s expectations for states to evaluate and revise, as needed, their DWSRF DAC definitions.

ASDWA saw the value in collecting and disseminating knowledge between the states regarding their work to evaluate and revise their DAC definitions. This white paper is the culmination of those discussions and includes an analysis of the changes made by states to their DAC definitions after the passage of BIL. It also includes 10 case studies of DWSRF programs that modified either their DAC definitions or their affordability criteria to better meet the needs of their communities. ASDWA intends for state staff to use this document as they work to analyze the viability of their current DAC definitions and affordability criteria, modify these parameters, or continue to evaluate their new definitions.


Download ASDWA's White Paper

State Actions: Drinking Water and Disadvantaged Communities

The Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative and the incredible funding provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to assist disadvantaged communities have put a new emphasis on addressing environmental justice in regard to drinking water. State drinking water programs have a long and successful history of providing funding and technical assistance to their disadvantaged water systems. States work to identify and implement creative and innovative solutions that consider all opportunities for providing funding and assistance to the communities that need it most. ASDWA intends for this webpage to serve as a central source for activities and actions states have taken to address environmental justice within their drinking water programs. This page will continue to grow and evolve as EPA and the states work to tackle these complex issues. We encourage you to check back regularly for updates.

State Definitions of Disadvantaged Communities

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, states are responsible for defining what constitutes a disadvantaged community. These definitions are used to make determinations and help prioritize the funds for drinking water infrastructure that are distributed to communities and water systems through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs. The passing of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and its requirements for providing funding to these communities has prompted many states to evaluate and redefine what constitutes a disadvantaged community.

The table below provides the text definition that each state uses, along with the link to where that definition can be found (Intended Use Plans, regulations, statute, or policy). Additionally, we’ve provided links to each state’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program and any additional environmental justice resources available. Users can search by term. For example, searching for “population” will limit definitions to only those that include that term. This table can be sorted by column and exported.

ASDWA staff worked with states to ensure that this data is up to date, but it should be noted that many states are currently in the process of updating their definitions. The date below denotes when the full table was last reviewed. Specific definitions that have been updated since that date will be flagged within the definition in the table. Any state staff that would like to update the information included within this table, please contact Stephanie Schlea at

Table last reviewed fully: December 2022

State Case Studies on Disadvantaged Communities: Successes and Challenges

The States have been doing incredible work to help address disadvantaged communities, but they are facing both opportunities and challenges with expanding on these successes to help small and disadvantaged public water systems address needs for upgrading, maintaining, managing, and sustainably operating their systems. ASDWA began collecting case studies of community success stories and struggles from members in early 2022. Each case study highlights the community demographics, issues facing each system, and what steps were taken to help the system tackle its challenges. ASDWA is continually adding new case studies. If you have a case study you would like to highlight, please contact Stephanie Schlea at

ASDWA’s Environmental Justice News Feed

ASDWA publishes content covering various areas of the drinking water program.

Learn More

New Executive Order Aims to Expand Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities

February 24th, 2023 Stephanie Schlea On February 16, the Biden Administration released a new Executive Order (EO), Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. The order builds off previous equity-related executive orders by extending and strengthening equity-advancing requirements for federal agencies to deliver better outcomes for the American people. The EO outlines a variety…

EPA Updates Water Technical Assistance Website

February 16th, 2023 Stephanie Schlea On February 16, EPA released an update to the Agency's Water Technical Assistance (TA) website. Most notably, EPA has developed a Water TA Request Form where communities can request no-cost direct water technical assistance to evaluate their drinking water, wastewater, stormwater infrastructure, and water quality improvement needs. After a community submits the form, EPA reviews…

EPA Announces Release of $2 Billion in BIL Funding to Address Emerging Contaminants in Drinking Water

February 13th, 2023 Stephanie Schlea On February 13, EPA announced the release of $2 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding to address PFAS and other emerging contaminants in drinking water. The funding will be made available to communities as grants through EPA’s Emerging Contaminants in Small or Disadvantaged Communities Grant Program. Under BIL, $5 billion will be invested into…