Sunday, October 17, 2021

USDA Invests $307 Million in Water Infrastructure Improvements

By on July 7, 2021

(Screen capture of USDA.gov)

For Rural Water and Wastewater Projects in 34 States and Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN – U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday that the his department is providing $307 million in grants and low-interest loans to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 34 states and Puerto Rico.

The Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal, and storm water drainage. The program serves households and businesses in eligible rural areas with populations of 10,000 or less.

The USDA is financing the projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. The financing will help eliminate outdated pipes and service lines to safeguard public health and safety in rural communities and are expected to improve rural infrastructure for 250,000 residents and businesses, the agency said.

In Puerto Rico, the rural aqueduct Comunidad Corujas Inc. is receiving $100,000 to make improvements to its community water system. The community is located in Aguas Buenas and serves a population of 783.

“After the passing of Hurricane Maria, the area of Las Corujas endured a period of eight months with no electric service,” the USDA wrote in its Puerto Rico project description. “They had to struggle to provide their customers limited service from its main well with an obsolete power generator which broke down due to the continuous use. This project consists in acquiring a 60KV power generator for the primary pump station and a 40KV for the secondary station. Each generator will include the transfer switch, electrical installation and the start-up. The doors will be replaced for security purposes and mesh panels will be installed over hole openings in masonry blocks to protect the systems. Once this project is complete, the aqueduct will be in a much better position to provide its clients with safe drinking water in the event of any disasters the future.”

The announcement follows President Biden’s last week of a Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework “that will make the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history,” the USDA said in a press release. The framework is intended to replace all of the U.S. lead pipes and service lines, “helping address barriers faced by communities of color, Tribal communities, and people who live in rural America.”

The grants and loans will target areas in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Puerto Rico.

“Every community needs safe, reliable and modern water and wastewater systems,” said Vilsack. “The consequences of decades of disinvestment in physical infrastructure have fallen most heavily on communities of color. This is why USDA is investing in water infrastructure in rural and Tribal communities that need it most – to help them build back better, stronger and more equitably than ever before.”

The USDA pointed out that as part of the announcement:

  • The Red Rock Rural Water System in southwestern Minnesota is receiving a $905,000 loan and a $445,000 grant to build a water treatment plant in Great Bend. It will also build an onsite ground storage reservoir and replace outdated control equipment. These improvements will help provide safe drinking water for nearly 16,000 residents.
  • In New Mexico, the Ohkay Owingeh is receiving a $610,000 loan and a $1.6 million grant to build a wastewater treatment plant on Pueblo lands in Rio Arriba County. This project will help expand water treatment from 235,000 to 350,000 gallons per day and extend services to Pueblo residents who are not currently connected. These improvements will benefit 1,143 residents.
  • Ohio’s Gallia County Board of Commissioners is receiving an $887,000 loan and a $1.5 million grant to provide additional financing for a wastewater collection system in portions of Green and Springfield townships. This project is expected to improve water quality and economic development opportunities for 1,154 residents in the rural Appalachian communities of Rodney and Quail Creek.

To learn more about these and other resources for rural areas, contact a USDA Rural Development state office.

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