Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $256 million in 81 projects to improve water and wastewater infrastructure in rural areas in 35 states. Louisiana State Director Dr. Carrie Castille is pleased to announce that East Feliciana Waterworks District No. 7 and Hammock Water System are recipients of over $4.5 million dollars.
"Modern and reliable water systems are a necessity for any community to thrive," Castille said. "Through strong partnerships, USDA is working to address ongoing issues with declining public water systems in rural communities."
Hammock Water System, Inc. is receiving a $1,062,000 grant and $1,338,000 USDA loan to construct two water wells, a booster station, and install radio read meters. More importantly, investments will be used to cap and abandon a water well that routinely exceeds the primary maximum contaminant level for arsenic. The project enables the water system to better serve 352 customers within Rapides Parish and a small portion of customers in eastern Vernon Parish.
The East Feliciana Rural Water System headquartered in Ethel, is receiving a USDA Direct loan in the amount of $7,691,000 and a grant for $1,609,000 to install a 300,000-gallon elevated storage tank, well, pressure filters and 45,000-gallon ground storage tanks, pumps, equipment control shelter, improvements for six existing wells, water line upgrades, and a generator.
East Feliciana Waterworks District No. 7, in Clinton, is receiving a $800,612 grant and $1,384,000 USDA loan to increase storage capacity, pipe diameter, and well pump capacity to provide water to residents in East Feliciana Parish. The project enables the district to serve its 931 customers and reach citizens who do not have municipal water service. This project will provide backup power in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.
The recently enacted Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus spending bill includes a significant boost in financial support for water and wastewater projects. It provides $5.2 billion for USDA loans and grants, up from $1.2 billion in FY 2017. It also directs Agriculture Secretary Perdue to make investments in rural communities with the greatest infrastructure needs.
In addition to funding in the 2018 Omnibus bill, President Trump has proposed a $200 billion infrastructure investment that allocates 25 percent ($50 billion) to rural projects.
The loans and grants are being awarded through USDA’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. The funds can be used to finance drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.
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/la.