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.”
USDA Rural Development State Director Anthony Linardos said, “Investing in dependable infrastructure is essential to supporting thriving rural Vermont & New Hampshire communities. Over 660 users will reap the benefits of these water and waste infrastructure projects. Improved infrastructure is one of many things that can help to make rural communities great places to live.”
Two towns in Vermont & New Hampshire have been selected to receive a total of $4.5 million under this announcement:
• $878,000 for the Town of Stewartstown, NH. This Rural Development investment will be used to fund the replacement of two aging, deteriorated and failing wastewater pump stations in the town of Stewartstown. The main pump station has failed several times and caused raw sewage overflows on the ground and the neighboring field adjacent to the river. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has issued violations due to the overflows from the pump station failures. This project will correct a health issue. The system serves 319 primarily residential users. Other users include a large county facility nursing home and jail. A $28,000 Rural Development Special Evaluation Assistance for Communities and Households (SEARCH) grant was used to fund the preliminary engineering evaluation of the wastewater pumping systems.
• $3.6 million for the Town of Fairlee, VT. This Rural Development investment will be used to repair and update the water distribution system for the 341 users. This project will repair the water tank, replace water mains, install water meters and install a filtration system to remove manganese and iron. These improvements will have a significant impact on the appeal of the water as well as the efficiency of the system. Investing in these infrastructure upgrades will ensure a safe and reliable water system for the community.
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.
Arkansas is receiving two of the 81 rural water and wastewater infrastructure projects Hazlett announced. The Tri County Regional Water Distribution District, in Russellville, Ark., for example, is receiving a $6.2 million USDA loan to construct a water treatment plant with new intake and water lines. The new plant will better serve customers during high demand and will help avoid unhealthy conditions. Tri County supplies water to Pope, Logan and Yell counties. The town of Ravenden is receiving $859,000 to construct a water supply well. The new well will correct system deficiencies to comply with health and sanitary regulatory standards for the 246 users.
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 Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant. 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.