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

Michael Dora
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 $17.4 million for three projects in Indiana:  

  • Town of Akron is receiving a $2,114,000 loan to complete the separation of a combined sanitary sewer collection system for the 1,167 residents of Akron, in rural Fulton County.  The combined portion of the system collects significant storm water flows from inlet connections along state and local roads.  These excessive flows prevent the wastewater treatment and collection system from functioning properly.  The town is under an order by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to make health and safety improvements.  It faces fines and will be unable to make additional hookups until the problem is fixed.  Other funding for this project includes a $20,000 applicant contribution and a $600,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.
  • City of Union City is receiving a $8,344,000 loan and a $4,685,000 grant to upgrade a wastewater treatment plant and collection system. The upgrades will address health and sanitary violations imposed by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. This project will improve service to Union City's 3,584 residents in rural Randolph County.
  • Southwestern Bartholomew Water Corporation is receiving a $2,305,000 loan to upgrade the water system. The project will install a new, eight-inch transmission main to supplement the existing five-inch main. A new, 200,000-gallon elevated storage tank and an altitude valve on an existing standpipe will be installed. These improvements will improve water pressure, which is high in some areas and low in others. Higher system pressures increase the risk of pipe failure and increase operational and maintenance expenses. These upgrades will provide additional storage capacity, enable the system to meet the needs of 7,708 residents, and allow for anticipated growth. Southwestern Bartholomew Water Corporation supplies water to the majority of west central Bartholomew County and the far eastern portion of Brown County.  

   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.