Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that USDA is investing $392 million to help rebuild and improve rural water and wastewater infrastructure in 42 states. Texas State Director Edd Hargett reported that 4 of those projects were in Texas with investments totaling almost $16 million.
“Put simply, modern and reliable water infrastructure is foundational to quality of life and economic development,” Hazlett said. “USDA’s partnerships with rural communities underscore Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s commitment to rural people and the places they call home.”
USDA is supporting investments in 120 infrastructure projects 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. In many cases, states, other federal partners and nonprofits are working with USDA to also provide funding for these projects.
“The Water and Waste Disposal program is a vital funding source available to rural communities to help them keep the pace with the needs of their rising populations,” Hargett said. “We are pleased to be able to assist these communities is meeting their infrastructure needs.”
Hazlett announced the awards here today during the WaterPro Conference hosted by the National Rural Water Association. Below are some examples of the types of investments USDA is making to improve infrastructure in rural communities in Texas:
- Brookesmith Special Utility District will use a $3 million loan and a $2.4 million grant to finance water line improvements, including line relocation and meter installation. The upgrade will improve service to almost 4,000 residents.
- The city of Bracketville will use a $3.1 million loan and a $411,000 grant to help finance improvements to the City’s water distribution and wastewater systems. Water system improvements include the installation of about 23 miles of lines, the construction of a new water plant with an elevated storage tank, and the installation of a new booster pump. The City’s wastewater system will also be rehabilitated, including the addition of a new pond and irrigation system, the replacement of the existing lift station and an emergency generator. Improved utility services will be provided to a population of 5,318. Additional funding includes a $2 million Water & Waste Disposal grant for colonias.
- EMC WSC will use a $1.9 million loan and a $1.5 million grant to construct water lines to add 21 new customers to the system. A ground storage tank, booster plants and pressure tank will be installed.
- M.E.N. Water Supply Corporation will use a $2 million loan and a $1.4 million grant to help finance improvements to the water distribution system. The improvements include adding approximately 23 miles of lines, and a new water plant with an elevated storage tank, replacing two ground storage tanks, pressure tanks, and boost pumps at the existing plant sites. These improvements will serve a population of 5,318.
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 they can apply through one of USDA Rural Development’s state or field offices.
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.