In a rare and welcome piece of good news on the water infrastructure financing front, last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced loans and grants for 141 projects to build and improve water and wastewater infrastructure in rural communities across the country.
In announcing the financing the USDA acknowledged that rural communities face a critical need to upgrade and repair their water and wastewater systems, but often lack the resources to do so. USDA is awarding $299 million for 88 projects in the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program and $15 million for 53 grants in the Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant (ECWAG) program.
ECWAG grants enable water systems that serve eligible rural communities to prepare for, or recover from, imminent or actual emergencies that threaten the availability of safe drinking water. Water and Waste program recipients can use funds to construct water and waste facilities in rural communities.
Rural communities in a total of 38 states will receive grants and/or loans for a wide variety of projects, including drilling new wells, upgrading storage tanks and other equipment, and rebuilding and repairing drinking water treatment facilities. For the specific details of the grants, click here. For a list of recipients and amounts awarded, click here.
CWC applauds the USDA’s action and appreciates the agency’s efforts to help provide desperately needed improvements in water and wastewater services to the millions of residents living in America’s rural communities. But as we have reported before, rural communities are not alone in their critical water infrastructure needs; towns and cities all over the country are suffering from the same problems, and a larger and more active federal government financing role is called for in all of our nation’s communities – rural, suburban and urban alike.