The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $1.2 billion to help rebuild and improve rural water infrastructure for 936,000 rural Americans living in 46 US states.
Announcing the new funding, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett said:
“Access to water is a key driver for economic opportunity and quality of life in rural communities.”
“Under the leadership of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities in building prosperity through modern water infrastructure.”
USDA is providing financing for 234 water, wastewater and environmental infrastructure projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. The funding can be used for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.
Eligible communities and water districts can apply online or they can apply through one of USDA Rural Development’s state or field offices.
Examples of the investments USDA is making include:
- In Pennsylvania, the Municipal Authority of the Borough of Berlin is receiving a $2.5 million loan to replace the primary water transmission line for the Berlin Municipal Water System. The line was constructed in 1979, is in poor condition, has experienced numerous breaks resulting in boil water notices, and has inadequate water pressure to fight fires. The investment will also help replace water meters. This system serves nearly 1,100 users in Berlin and in Brothers Valley township in Somerset County.
- The Todd County Water District in Kentucky will receive a $3.2 million loan and a $390,000 grant to construct two miles of water line and a 500,000-gallon water storage tank. The upgrades will provide up to one million gallons per day for a new industrial site just outside of Guthrie. Novelis Industries plans to build an automotive aluminum sheet manufacturing facility that will create approximately 125 jobs. The Todd County Water District serves 3,500 customers.
- The Bond Water Association Inc. in Winston County, Miss., will use a $1.4 million loan to upgrade its water system. It will build a 300-gallon-per-minute well and replace 28,200 feet of distribution lines. Also, new radio read meters will be installed, and the two water treatment plants will be rehabilitated. These improvements will serve 470 customers.
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.