U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service Administrator Chad Rupe today announced that USDA is investing $135 million in 49 projects to improve rural water infrastructure in 24 states.
“Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA continues to partner with rural communities to address their current and long-term water needs,” Rupe said. “Modernizing water infrastructure will yield key health benefits and help spur economic growth – making rural places even more attractive to live and work.”
“Mr. Rupe’s statement is especially true here in New Mexico,” added Rural Development State Director Arthur A. Garcia. “Over the years our agency has helped just about every rural community in New Mexico with financial support to provide clean water and treat wastewater, so our rural residents can have a better lifestyle.”
USDA is making the investments through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. Rural cities and towns, water districts and other eligible entities can use the funds for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems in rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.
The Village of Taos Ski Valley and the community of Berino south of Las Cruces are two projects that received financing included in this announcement.
Rural Development invested $1.6 million to remodel the wastewater treatment facility at the Village of Taos Ski Valley. The improved wastewater treatment system will see the old wastewater treatment equipment replaced and upgraded. Ultimately, the improved wastewater system will provide better health and sanitation conditions for the community and for those living downstream.
Rural Development is also providing a loan/grant package totaling $3,498,000 to upgrade and modernize the Berino, New Mexico water system located south of Las Cruces. The financing package made to the Lower Rio Grande Public Water Works Authority will pay to drill a new water well and install a new water treatment system and a new water tank. The expanded water service will create a redundant water supply source for the residents of Berino. This is being done in case the nearby Mesquite and Desert Sands water systems are not able to provide enough water as a back-up service to the Berino water system in an emergency. When completed the updated water system will also address the arsenic concentrations in the groundwater in the Berino area and provide cleaner water to those residents connected to the water system.
USDA is announcing investments today in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington and West Virginia.
USDA had $2.9 billion available for USDA Water and Environmental Program loans and grants at the beginning of fiscal year 2019. USDA will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks.
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 facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.