Assistant to the Secretary for USDA Rural Development Anne Hazlett has announced that the agency is investing more than $124 million to help rebuild and improve rural water infrastructure in 23 states. In Maine, the Winter Harbor Utilities District has been selected to receive $1.3 million to upgrade its wastewater system.
“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 Rural Development State Director Timothy P. Hobbs said, “Investing in rural infrastructure is a major priority of USDA Rural Development. Through funding to rural systems like Winter Harbor Utilities District, we are helping to ensure that our rural areas in Maine have what they need to thrive and prosper.”
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.
The Winter Harbor Utilities District will use the $1.3 million in Water and Waste Disposal Direct Loan and Grant funds to upgrade its wastewater treatment facility and pump stations. The project will replace outdated equipment, make process improvements at the wastewater treatment facility, and install high-efficiency motors on pumps and blowers at all four of the pump stations. The upgrades will help the District meet clean water standards and help protect the waters of Henry Cove and the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, these improvements will lower operational costs and maintain rates for system users. The facility serves 244 residential and 27 commercial and governmental customers.
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 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 has Area Offices located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, and Scarborough, as well as a State Office, located in Bangor. Rural Development staff work diligently to deliver the agency’s Housing, Business, and Community Programs, which are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, and farmers, and improve the quality of life in rural Maine. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development's web site at http://www.rd.usda.gov/me.