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Success Stories

Addressing Water Access Challenges Through USDA Rural Development’s Commitment to Rural Communities

Rick Rose
Watertower in George, WA was partially funded through USDA Rural Development.

Water is the life source for everything living on this earth. For human survival, we require clean and reliable water through sustainable infrastructure. While most people in US communities are blessed with water resources that don't even need to be thought about when the tap is turned on, this is not the case in rural America. In many rural communities, there is a lack of sufficient water, and residents frequently live with compromised and unsafe water resources. These challenges are increasing due to rising water costs, aging infrastructure, depleted water supplies, climate change, and regulatory failures.

USDA Rural Development (RD) recognizes the challenge with rural infrastructure and limited resources and understands the importance of safe and healthy living conditions for rural residents. The Water & Environmental Programs (WEP) of USDA RD provides funding, loans, grants, technical support, and partnerships to address these issues and keep rural America thriving.

Water is primal; human survival and everything else in our communities’ hinge on its availability. Rural America is the grassroots foundation of our country, and its well-being is significant to the entire USA.

RD exists to support rural American vitality and ensure its continued prosperity. Rural households can face a wide range of water infrastructure challenges, including the need to travel long distances to obtain water, sewage backup, and exposure to toxins like arsenic.

These challenges affect housing conditions and health outcomes, contributing to greater incidence of acute and chronic illnesses among residents in rural communities. Access to capital is crucial for rural communities as most public investment in US water and sewer infrastructure comes from local government revenues.

 Rural Development addresses funding inequities by allocating funding opportunities specifically to rural communities, thereby helping to address systemic drivers of inequity and water issues in rural America. Through USDA Rural Development's Water and Environmental Programs (WEP), rural communities in Washington State can obtain technical assistance and financing for drinking water and waste disposal systems.

“Water is vital to every living person and thing,” said Marti Canatsey, Senior Community Programs Specialist. ““Farmers depend on water for crops and caring for their animals that will ultimately provide sustenance for humans and other animals,” she continued. “Producers depend on water, crops and animals grown by farmers to provide employment opportunities.   Employment opportunities provide families the ability to rent and own homes and children an opportunity for education.

“USDA Rural Development makes a difference in rural America by funding water projects, which is the cornerstone for communities to build on,” she added. “Safe drinking water and sanitary waste disposal systems are vital to public health and economic vitality in rural areas.

In fact, USDA is proud to be the only Federal program exclusively focused on rural water and waste infrastructure needs of communities with populations of 10,000 or less. WEP also provides funding to organizations offering technical assistance and training to rural communities related to their water and waste activities.

Over the past decade, USDA Rural Development has invested over $248.6 million ($94.9 million in grants alone) for rural water projects within 36 of Washington’s 39 counties.

"Safe water is not just an expenditure of federal funds," said Koni Reynolds, Community Programs Director for USDA Rural Development in Washington State. "Safe water is an investment in the future of our rural communities and continues to be a priority in what we do each and every day."

Story by Rick Rose, Community Programs Specialist in Washington State

Obligation Amount:
$248.6 Million
Year(s) of Obligation:
Congressional District:
  • Washington: District 1
  • Washington: District 2
  • Washington: District 3
  • Washington: District 4
  • Washington: District 5
  • Washington: District 6
  • Washington: District 8
  • Washington: District 10