Background: Many Alabamians still live without reliable access to clean and running water or a functioning sewage system. This is especially true in the Black Belt region where an estimated 30% of homes lack functioning waste sanitation services, according to a recent presentation from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). One viable solution for communities to improve access to clean water and wastewater sanitation is to apply for funding available through ADEM’s State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan program, recently bolstered by an influx of fundings through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. However, applying for ADEM’s SRF program is complicated and can prove insurmountable for many rural, small, or otherwise disadvantaged communities to access funding. The Alabama Rivers Alliance needs a dedicated researcher to help us analyze the current water and wastewater resources available to disadvantaged communities, help determine how effective the state’s programs are currently meeting those needs, and help us identify strategies and policies for advocating improvements to these programs.
This fellowship will be a contract position paying a total of $10,000, or the equivalent of $20 an hour for approximately 500 hours of work. The timing of the position is negotiable, with options to be full time for three (3) months or part time for six (6) months. The research conducted will support the water and wastewater infrastructure advocacy work of the Alabama Rivers Alliance and its partner organizations working to ensure accessible and equitable water and wastewater infrastructure funding for communities across Alabama, especially in Alabama’s Black Belt region. This position is designed to work remotely with a defined start and end date and will include regular meetings with ARA staff to discuss project goals, progress, and deliverables. Some travel will be required so it is preferred that applicants have a valid driver’s license and access to reliable transportation. The Alabama Rivers Alliance is a statewide network of organizations working to protect and restore all of Alabama’s water resources through building partnerships, empowering citizens, and advocating for sound water policy and its enforcement. The Alabama Rivers Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit funded solely by individuals, like-minded businesses, organizations and private foundations.
Categories of work:
- Research & Data Analysis
- Advocacy & Outreach
Research & Data Analysis
- Identify areas of Alabama where wastewater and water advocacy could be beneficial
- Map State Revolving Fund applicants & identify areas where advocacy may be needed
- Research and communicate funding resources available for both governments, communities, and individuals seeking water and wastewater assistance
- Help track funding streams available to communities and individuals for water infrastructure and investigate the health and transparency of funding sources
- When directed by staff or community members, locate and analyze specific wastewater facilities and project applications
- Research other states environmental agency standards and processes for SRF and develop policy recommendations for Alabama
Advocacy & Outreach
- Help us fight for historically ignored, discriminated against, and/or environmental justice communities unfairly burdened with pollution to get equitable access to water infrastructure
- Develop mutual relationships with Black Belt community advocates to learn about their experiences with wastewater issues and where support is needed for mitigating those issues
- Conduct community outreach and survey communities that have not applied for funding to learn water infrastructure needs and provide resources for tackling wastewater issues
- Develop an understanding of the extremely complicated political landscape of Alabama’s water and wastewater resources
- Produce research reports and policy recommendations for water and wastewater infrastructure advocacy in Alabama. Reports may be circulated to elected officials, published on social media and/or our website, or shared with academic institutions and national advocacy partners.
- Help gather data & produce community environmental information sheets
- Gather educational materials about wastewater and distribute them to our partners who work in environmental education
- Learn educational gaps in wastewater & suggest them for academic study
- Attend wastewater outreach planning meetings & monitor/document progress of the Southern Exposure wastewater film production happening this summer
SPECIAL NOTE: We strongly encourage applications from people of color, Indigenous people, people from all socioeconomic backgrounds, women (or non-binary identity), LGBTQ+, and other people of historically excluded identities.
TO APPLY: Please email resume, cover letter discussing your interest, and optional sample of your writing to email@example.com with subject line: Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Research Fellowship or mail to Alabama Rivers Alliance c/o Cindy Lowry, 2014 6th Ave North, Suite 200, Birmingham, Alabama 35203. Questions can be e-mailed to the same email address. Phone calls are highly discouraged. Deadline to apply is June 9, 2023 and interviews will be held on a rolling basis.