Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today 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.
“No matter what zip code you live in, infrastructure is a foundation for quality of life and economic opportunity,” Hazlett said. “Through strong partnerships, USDA is ensuring that rural communities have the modern, reliable infrastructure they need to prosper.”
During her keynote address at the Arkansas Rural Development conference, Hazlett spoke about USDA’s longstanding partnership with state and local officials to improve the quality of life in rural communities. She met with various representatives on issues important to rural Arkansas residents and businesses, such as ways USDA is partnering with local communities to support opioid treatment, prevention and recovery services. She also highlighted USDA efforts to support e-Connectivity in the state.
“Michigan’s abundant fresh water is a blessing that carries with it great responsibility,” said USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan Jason Allen. “These improvements will safeguard our precious water resources for future generations and use and enjoy. For communities seeking additional dollars for sewer and water infrastructure, please contact us on the web at www.rd.usda.gov/mi.”
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 Hazlett announced today 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.
Michigan awards announced today include:
A $915,000 loan for the Village of Beulah, in Benzie County, to provide additional funding for an ongoing water system improvement project. The project will build a water storage tank to replace the existing tank. The size, age and condition of the existing tank violates the Safe Drinking Water Act. In addition to the water tank replacement, the village will replace more than 2 miles of water main. Most of the distribution system was constructed prior to 1950, using cast iron pipe with significant amounts of asbestos and cement. Additionally, broken mains have occurred on several occasions in recent years. The project will add 30 users, bringing the total to 326 residential and 80 commercial users.
A $376,000 loan and $307,000 grant for the Village of Farwell, in Clare County, to provide additional funding for an ongoing water system improvement project. This entails refurbishing one of the wellhouses, refurbishing the iron removal plant, replacing some sections of water main to improve fire flows, closing a loop in the northwest portion of the village, extending the water main east along Main Street to the village boundary, and miscellaneous improvements. The project will serve 825 residents.
A $90,000 loan and $73,000 grant for the Village of Port Sanilac, in Sanilac County, to provide additional funding for an ongoing water system improvement project. The project includes water main replacement, pressure filter refurbishment, tank painting, and the purchase and installation of water meters. This project also coincides with a Michigan Department of Transportation road repaving project on M25. The project will serve 443 water users. The population of Port Sanilac is 788 residents.
A $1,877,000 loan for the Village of Ravenna, in Muskegon County, to improve the aging sanitary sewer treatment system. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality awarded the community a Stormwater, Asset Management and Wastewater grant, which enabled it to conduct an evaluation of the village's infrastructure. The report identified several issues with the sewer system. The lagoons have unprotected side slopes and sloughing at the base of the slope. The original outlet and control gates are no longer serviceable. Two lift stations that date back to the 1970s will be replaced. The project will serve 447 residential and 74 commercial customers.
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.