USDA is investing $272 million through loans and grants to modernize rural drinking water and waste water infrastructure as part of its Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. USDA is financing 114 projects and these investments will help improve rural infrastructure for 270,000 people and businesses.
“When we invest in rural infrastructure, we build opportunity and prosperity for people in rural communities,” says Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. “These investments support the local economy by making rural communities attractive, economically viable and safe places to live and work, therefore helping to create and save jobs by attracting and retaining employers and workers.”
The Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal and storm water drainage. The program serves people and businesses in eligible rural areas with populations of 10,000 or less.
In a media call, Vilsack was joined by Nathan Ohle, CEO of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, and Matt Holmes, CEO of the National Rural Water Association.
Ohle shares that of the 150,000 public water systems, 97% of them serve those in towns fewer than 10.000 people. Of the 15,000 waste water systems, 72% are from the small or very small populations. Ohle’s organization offers technical assistance from USDA’s funds to build capacity to make sure these towns are more sustainable and resilient well into the future.
He explains the grants and loans are vital to these communities, even those in smaller dollar amounts. USDA’s Rural Development funding is vitally important, and USDA’s understanding and commitment to make sure smaller communities who need these funds and capacity built can access available loan and grant support.
Holmes adds, “All of these investments will yield tremendous returns on the health and economic vitality of rural America.”
USDA announced investments in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming and Puerto Rico.
The mixture of loans and $82.5 million in grants offer communities the ability to meet the needs on varying scales. For instance, Shelby County, Ohio is receiving a $6.1 million loan and a $5.2 million grant to improve and expand the Lake Loramie Wastewater Treatment Plant. The improvements will provide reliable water and sewer services to 2,000 people. They are needed to bring the county into compliance with Ohio Environmental Protection Agency regulations. The Biolac Cell 1 will be converted into a digester, and the improved plant will use Orbital Oxidation Ditch technology. The facility will be capable of handling 600,000 gallons per day. These improvements will increase the capacity of the facility to support more economic development and opportunity for the community.
The village of Baldwin, Wis., is receiving a $14.5 million loan and a $3.6 million grant to replace its wastewater treatment plant, improving service for nearly 4,000 people. The current plant is too small to support essential community facilities and economic development in the community. Additionally, much of the equipment is reaching the end of its useful life. The new plant will bring the community into compliance with state Department of Natural Resources pollutant discharge elimination standards.