U.S. Department of Agriculture Ohio Rural Development State Director David L. Hall today announced more than $14.7 million in USDA Water and Wastewater treatment funding is being awarded to the Ottawa County Village of Oak Harbor and the Allen County communities of Gomer, Harrod and Lafayette.
“Access to safe, clean drinking water and functional wastewater treatment is one of the very bedrocks of infrastructure,” said Hall. “Without it, small towns are at a disadvantage for economic development, and rural quality of life suffers. Equally important is the fact that all Ohio communities in today’s announcement are located in the Western Lake Erie watershed, where failing wastewater treatment systems can contribute to Harmful Algal Blooms. Not only will these projects help safeguard the health of the Western Basin, they’ll also directly protect the Portage, Ottawa, and Maumee Rivers.”
The Ohio projects are among 71 in 29 states - $192 million in total – announced in Florida today by Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley.
- The Village of Oak Harbor is receiving a $3,830,000 loan and $2,900,000 grant to replace wastewater collection lines originally built in the 1880s as part of a wastewater/stormwater collection system that now has severe inflow and filtration issues. During adverse weather events, heavy precipitation can exceed system capacity, flooding basements and sending untreated wastewater into the Portage River. The construction of a modern wastewater collection system will now allow the original lines to be used exclusively for stormwater control. In addition to upgrading wastewater collection, water lines will be replaced, adding capacity and improving access to safe, clean drinking water for the village’s 2,759 residents.
- The community of Gomer will use its $1,200,000 loan and $1,300,000 grant to help finance the construction of a modern wastewater collection system. Currently, wastewater is handled by failing individual onsite systems that improperly discharge into Gomer’s stormwater system, which then flows into the Ottawa and Maumee Rivers. Once this project is completed, untreated wastewater from more than 360 residential and commercial users will be redirected to an existing facility in nearby Lima.
- Encompassing the communities of Harrod and Lafayette, The Allen Water District – which includes the 1,200-student Allen East School Complex – will use its $2,680,000 loan and $2,810,000 grant to build a new water distribution system. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has determined some onsite wells there are contaminated with pathogens that raise the risk of illness and disease. In conjunction with this project, fire hydrants also will be installed, improving fire safety at the school complex and for the 862 residents of Harrod and Lafayette.
USDA is making these investments through its Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. Rural communities, water districts and other eligible entities can use the funds for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems in rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents. USDA expects to make additional funding announcements in coming weeks: Congress appropriated $2.9 billion for USDA Water and Environmental Program loans and grants in fiscal year 2019.
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 facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.