USDA: $4 Billion in Loans/Grants Tagged for Rural Water Districts to Improve, Rebuild Infrastructure

By on August 8, 2018

An historic commitment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to upgrade and rebuild water infrastructures in rural communities with 10,000 residents or less was recently announced by the Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett. The USDA is providing the funding through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program.

“USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities in building their futures,” Hazlett said. “All people – regardless of their zip code – need modern, reliable infrastructure to thrive, and we have found that when we address this need, many other challenges in rural places become much more manageable.”

The funds are earmarked for eligible rural communities and water districts to maintain, modernize or build water and wastewater systems. Funds can be used to finance drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems in communities that meet the specifications as detailed at: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rd-apply. Application for the USDA’s rural Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program can also be completed at the above email address or through California’s USDA Rural Development’s office at: https://www.rd.usda.gov/ca.

President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in April 2017 to identify legislative, policy and regulatory changes that could promote prosperity and agriculture in rural communities. The findings as presented to President Trump by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in January 2018 included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America and to increase investments in rural infrastructures.

The 2018 Omnibus spending bill includes $5.2 billion for USDA loans and grants, up from $1.2 billion in FY 2017 and provide an unprecedented level of funding for water and wastewater infrastructure. The bill also directs Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to make investments where the greatest infrastructure needs are found in rural communities.

One such California project approved earlier this year included upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant for the community of Quincy and neighboring East Quincy in Plumas County. The American Valley Community Services District project received $10,505,000 in USDA loans and $2,293,000 in grant funding. Previously, the two towns had maintained and provided independent potable water and wastewater collection systems. They consolidated in January 2018 to form the American Valley Community Services District. The new District had been issued a cease and desist order because its wastewater system discharges into Spanish Creek and no longer met the state’s quality standards. The USDA loan and grant are intended to resolve these issues for the community serving approximately 4,217 residents.

The USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. The funding is also intended to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. Additional information on the USDA funds can be found at: www.rd.usda.gov.