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USDA Partners to Improve Rural Water and Wastewater Infrastructure-- In Nebraska, Steele City, Fairfield and Morse Bluff Receive Funding

Vicki Schurman
Release Date

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced today that USDA is investing more than $124 million to help rebuild and improve rural water infrastructure in 23 states. Three projects in Nebraska are receiving funding totaling more than $2.9 million.

   “Modern, reliable water infrastructure provides a foundation for economic growth and prosperity,” Hazlett said. “USDA’s partnerships with rural communities underscore Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s commitment to ensuring that rural places have the infrastructure needed to thrive.”  

   USDA is providing the funding through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. It can be used to finance drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

  Projects in Nebraska will receive the following USDA funding:

  • The village of Morse Bluff is receiving a $391,000 loan and a $825,000 grant for new distribution lines to reconnect service with the curb stops. In addition, a new well will be installed to provide a backup system for the 39-year-old well. The meters will be replaced and updated to include meter pits that provide shut-off access if needed. A new water storage unit will also be installed to replace the old one that has reached the end of its useful life. This project is a result of a preliminary engineering report funded through a $22,000 Rural Development Special Evaluation Assistance for Rural Communities and Households Grant. Other funding is a $250,000 Nebraska Department of Economic Development Community Development Block Grant.
  • The city of Fairfield will use a $502,000 loan and a $1,083,000 grant to upgrade facilities to meet current health or sanitary standards. This project is Phase Two of a two-phase capital improvement project, which includes the installation of water meters on all services. This includes meter reading equipment and software to replace the collection system and replace the concrete that encases the lines. The collection system lines will be replaced to meet the current standards, and nearly half of the manholes in the city, which were installed in the 1950s, will be updated. Spot repairs will be made for parts of the system.  The water system serves 181 users.  Additional funding includes a $1,305,000 FY 2016 Rural Development Water & Waste Disposal loan awarded for Phase I of the project.
  • The village of Steele City will receive a $22,000 loan and $146,000 grant for a cost overrun to connect the village of Steele City to the village of Endicott's upgraded water system. The funds will be used to construct a booster station in the village of Endicott and a line that runs to Steele City to provide water. Steele City's water system has a history of high nitrates and is under an administrative order by the state. Additional funding includes a $500,000 Rural Development Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant (FY 2014) and a $405,000 Rural Development Water & Waste Disposal loan and grant combination in FY 2016. 

   The funding that USDA is announcing today will benefit communities in Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont and West Virginia.

   In FY 2018, Congress provided a historic level of funding for water and wastewater infrastructure. The 2018 Omnibus spending bill includes $5.2 billion for USDA loans and grants, up from $1.8 billion in FY 2017. The bill also directs Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to make investments in rural communities with the greatest infrastructure needs.

   Eligible rural communities and water districts can apply online for funding to maintain, modernize or build water and wastewater systems. They can visit the interactive RD Apply tool, or in Nebraska they can apply through a local USDA Rural Development office.

    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.