USDA programs help city pave the way to a healthy infrastructure

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Jennifer Green-Lanchoney
(805) 928-9269 x104
Woodlake Water Tanks

Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada’s, Woodlake is a city poised for steady growth, but that wasn’t always the case.  The city could only grow as far as their aging water and wastewater systems could take them.

In 2001 the State Water Board issued a cease and desist order against Woodlake’s wastewater plant because it did not meet the state standards for treatment.

“Our water and wastewater systems couldn’t support our resident’s needs during peak hours,” said Rudy Mendoza, Woodlake’s Mayor. “We didn’t meet State requirements and so we were prohibited from any type of development within the city. But that was before we started working with USDA.”

The City of Woodlake started working with USDA Rural Development to improve their infrastructure through the agency’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program.

In 2009, Woodlake’s first application was to replace their aging water tank. Rural Development provided a $2 million loan that helped the city replace their old 500,000 gallon tank, and also double their capacity with an additional tank.

Soon after, efforts continued to fund a wastewater treatment facility. Woodlake secured a $13.3 million loan and a $3.9 million grant. With those funds, along with state funding, the city was able to complete the project.

The new wastewater treatment facility includes an anoxic treatment for nitrogen removal, evaporation-percolation ponds and available land disposal, and lined-bed aerobic sludge treatment.  The project also included updates to the lift stations throughout the city.

In 2015, the city once again reached out to Rural Development for support, receiving a $2.3 million loan and a $1.6 million grant to upgrade residential and commercial water meters as well as gate valves throughout the city.

“We’ve been proud to partner with Woodlake to help support their infrastructure needs,” said USDA Rural Development Acting State Director Richard Brassfield. “Our programs are designed specifically to help ensure California’s rural communities, like Woodlake, have the tools they need to thrive."

“USDA has not only supported our infrastructure projects, but the city and other agencies have also used other programs to support the police department, school district, fire protection district. Most recently we received support for the construction of a brand new community center,” said Mendoza.

Over the past twelve years, Rural Development has invested more than $7 million in Woodlake through the Community Facilities Loan and Grant program. Projects helped purchase an existing airport, replace outdated police vehicles, develop a telemedicine dental program at the schools, purchase new fire engines and construct a health clinic.

With the impact of the infrastructure projects and increased vitality of the city, renewed interest in housing has led to additional opportunities for growth.

“With the infrastructure in place to support the growth, it has attracted more and more people to the city,” said Mendoza. “Single family housing is in huge demand.”

 And USDA can help with that, too.

Fast Facts

Obligation AmountRUS Total: Loan: $ 17,479,000.00, Grant: $5,821,000
Date of ObligationMay 2017
Congressional DistrictNunes, Devin (CA 22)
Senator's Last NamesFeinstein, Harris