USDA Celebrates Completion of Water Project in Southeast Kansas

Jessica Bowser
Release Date
May 08, 2015

USDA Rural Development Community Programs Director in Kansas, Sháne Hastings, attended the Public Wholesale Water Supply District #19 Open House in Columbus.  USDA Rural Development provided more than $16 million in financing to improve water quality and quantity to residents in Cherokee County.


Public Wholesale Water Supply District #19 was formed in 1998 because of the limited amount and decreasing quality of groundwater available in Cherokee County.  The district provides water to the city of Columbus and Cherokee County Rural Water Districts #3 and #7, which serve approximately 50 percent of Cherokee County. 


“USDA Rural Development is committed to helping ensure that rural Kansans have access to affordable, safe drinking water,” stated Hastings.  “The regional approach that Cherokee County took to address its water infrastructure challenges is a plan that the Agency strongly supports.  The investment made by the federal government in Cherokee County will ensure that rural residents and businesses have modern, working infrastructure.”


Public Wholesale Water Supply District #19 received USDA funding to install 40 miles of water lines, construct a 200,000 gallon elevated water tower, and build a water treatment plant.  The water treatment plant is capable of producing one million gallons of water per day, which will be drawn from the Spring River.   


USDA Rural Development’s Water & Environmental Programs help very small, financially distressed rural communities extend and improve water and waste treatment facilities that serve local households and businesses. Good practices can save tax dollars, improve the natural environment, and help manufacturers and businesses to locate or expand operations.


According to John Epler, Chairman of Public Wholesale Water Supply District No. 19, “More than 15 years ago, discussions began on the need to ensure that Cherokee County would have a reliable water source well into future.  Water from the Ozark Aquifer in Cherokee County was being used faster than it was replenished.  State water and geology officials suggested that the county stop using deep wells and switch to surface water.  In 2009, the district applied for USDA Rural Development financing to build infrastructure to begin using surface water.  Without the funding assistance from USDA Rural Development the regional water project wouldn’t have been possible.” 


USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $210.5 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.