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USDA Encourages Rural Communities, Water Districts to Apply for Loans to Improve, Rebuild Infrastructure; $4 Billion Available

Nikki Gillespie
Release Date

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director for Minnesota Brad Finstad today announced more than $11 million in investments to upgrade and rebuild rural water infrastructure.

  “USDA has a history of commitment to rural communities and helping them grow,” Finstad said. “We know that helping provide resources for modern, reliable infrastructure and continuing to strengthen our partnerships is essential to achieving this.”

   Eligible rural communities and water districts can apply online for funding to maintain, modernize or build water and wastewater systems. Either visit the interactive RD Apply tool, or  apply through one of USDA Rural Development’s local area 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.

   The below examples outline USDA’s latest investment of $11.3 million in Minnesota:

  • Clarkfield, Minn., is receiving an $8,268,000 loan and a $2,101,000 grant to improve its water distribution and wastewater treatment systems. The city will rehabilitate its existing water tower – originally constructed in 1980 - that has increasingly contaminated the drinking water due to faulty interior and exterior coatings. Improvements will also be made to existing wastewater treatment infrastructure to eliminate seepage and improve treatment efficiencies. All improvements will result in safer drinking water and wastewater treatment for the surrounding community of Clarkfield, totaling nearly 1,000 in population.

  • In Baudette, Minn., the Wheelers Point Sanitary District is receiving a $300,000 loan and a $638,000 grant to construct a sewer collection system. The District is on the shores of Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River in Lake of the Woods County in northern Minnesota. Homes and businesses in the district have individual septic systems that need to be replaced. If these systems were to fail, the contamination would affect the river and the lake. The state considers this project a priority due to the possibility of environmental contamination. The new system will protect the environment and area waters.

   Finstad’s announcement was made in coordination with the Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett’s nationwide announcement of USDA’s historic $164 million commitment by the to upgrade and rebuild rural water infrastructure for 54 communities across the U.S.

   “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.”  

   USDA is announcing investments today in Alabama, California, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

   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.