Earlier this week Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced that USDA is investing $1.2 billion to help rebuild and improve rural water infrastructure for 936,000 rural Americans living in 46 states.
“Access to water is a key driver for economic opportunity and quality of life in rural communities,” Hazlett said. “Under the leadership of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities in building prosperity through modern water infrastructure.”
USDA is providing financing for 234 water and environmental infrastructure projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. The funding can be used for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.
Listed here are four Alaskan projects announced this week, each receiving a combination of direct loan and grant money:
- The Avenues neighborhood in Bethel will be receiving a water and sewer service upgrade. This area of approximately 100 water and sewer users is part of Bethel's hauled system, meaning water is delivered via haul truck and wastewater is collected via haul truck. It costs three times as much to haul water instead of piping it, so the city is looking to transition high-density neighborhoods like The Avenues to a piped network. The total project cost is $13,627,000. Additional funding includes $306,000 from the city and $50,000 from anticipated connection fees by commercial customers.
- This Rural Development investment will help finance improvements to the City of Ouzinkie for water infrastructure. A transmission water main will be constructed to ensure that a year-round water source is available to Ouzinkie residents. Additional funding includes a pending Community Development Block Grant.
- Russian Mission will be using this direct loan to help construct a 3.4-acre municipal solid waste facility and a 0.6-mile access road. It will also help the city to close and cap the permitted dump and provide equipment to maintain and operate the new facility. Additional funding includes an $850,000 Community Development Block Grant, $874,962 from the state of Alaska, $600,000 from the state's Division of Community and Regional Affairs, $1.2 million from the state Department of Transportation, and a $10,000 applicant contribution.
The landfill in Yakutat will use this WEP direct loan investment to replace the prefabricated burn unit and construct a one-foot-high gravel pad in the city of Yakutat. The burn unit is past its useful life due to damages from bears and other factors. The landfill provides weekly pick up and haul services for Yakutat's 613 residents. This project also will provide funding to replace the 1987 haul truck with a 2008 flatbed truck. Additional funding includes a $20,000 applicant contribution.
USDA is making investments in rural communities in: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
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.