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Billions available for rural water and wastewater projects

Jay Fletcher
Washington, D.C.
Release Date

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced a historic commitment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to upgrade and rebuild rural water infrastructure.

   “USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities in building their futures,” Hazlett said. “All people – regardless of their zip code – need modern, reliable infrastructure to thrive, and we have found that when we address this need, many other challenges in rural places become much more manageable.”

   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.

   USDA is providing the funding 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.

   Below are a few examples of USDA’s latest investment of $164 million for 54 projects including a project in Alto, NM.

   This Rural Development investment will be used to pay for a cost overrun to construct a water tank owned and operated by the Alto North Water Cooperative. The project includes the construction of a 60,000-gallon water tank and the demolition of the old water tank.  Installing a new larger water tank is more feasible than repairing the existing one. The new, 60-foot-tall water tank will be located at the reservoir and will deliver better service by providing 35 pounds per square inch (PSI) of water pressure to customers in the upper portion of the service area. Customers in the lower zone will see 60 PSI, which meets the state's minimum required pressure. Having 60,000 gallons of water storage also meets state fire flow requirements of 500 gallons per minute for two hours. The Alto North Water Cooperative is 5.3 miles north of Ruidoso, N.M., at an elevation of 7,300 feet. The Alto North Water Cooperative water system serves five businesses and 45 residences.

   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 $1.2 billion in FY 2017. The bill also directs Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to make investments in rural communities with the greatest infrastructure needs.

   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). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

   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 www.rd.usda.gov.