USDA partners to improve water and wastewater infrastructure for rural Americans | TheFencePost.com

USDA partners to improve water and wastewater infrastructure for rural Americans

-USDA

FORT WORTH, Texas — Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that USDA is investing $392 million (PDF, 238 KB) to help rebuild and improve rural water and wastewater infrastructure in 42 states.

"Put simply, modern and reliable water infrastructure is foundational to quality of life and economic development," Hazlett said. "USDA's partnerships with rural communities underscore Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue's commitment to rural people and the places they call home."

USDA is supporting investments in 120 infrastructure projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. It can be used to finance drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents. In many cases, states, other federal partners and nonprofits are working with USDA to also provide funding for these projects.

Hazlett announced the awards here today during the Water Pro Conference hosted by the National Rural Water Association. Below are some examples of the types of investments USDA is making to improve infrastructure in rural communities:

The city of Stuttgart, Ark., will use a $1 million loan to replace deteriorated water lines in its water system. The project will enable the city to have a safe and more reliable water supply for residents. More than 9,300 residents will benefit from this investment.

The city of Swartz Creek, Mich., will use a $2.9 million loan and a $2.3 million grant to make improvements to its water system. A majority of the distribution system was developed 40-50 years ago with mostly cast-iron pipe. The water mains are growing increasingly brittle and have experienced numerous breaks in the past five years. With each break, customers receive a boil water notice of varying durations. A majority of the water main has exceeded its life expectancy. The project includes replacing approximately four miles of water main, hydrants and valves, and making other repairs. The project will serve 2,098 residential and 216 commercial customers.

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In Oral, S.D., the Fall River Water Users District is receiving a $506,000 loan and a $401,000 grant to dig a new well. The district has two wells, one of which is not producing the quantity of water that was expected. Constructing a new well, west of Fairburn, will supplement the system and provide an adequate supply of water to better serve its 1,015 customers.

USDA is making investments in rural communities in: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansans, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Wyoming.

In FY 2018, Congress provided a historic level of funding for water and wastewater infrastructure. The 2018 omnibus spending bill includes $5.2 billion for USDA loans and grants, up from $1.8 billion in FY 2017. The bill also directs Perdue to make investments in rural communities with the greatest infrastructure needs.

Eligible rural communities and water districts can apply online for funding to maintain, modernize or build water and wastewater systems. They can visit the interactive RD Apply tool, or they can apply through one of USDA Rural Development's state or field offices.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force's findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB) at https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/rural-prosperity-report.pdf. In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB) at https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/rural-task-force-infographic.pdf.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit http://www.rd.usda.gov.