Washington, D.C. — Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced a historic commitment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to upgrade and rebuild rural water, stormwater, and wastewater infrastructure.

“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.”

Eligible rural communities and water districts can apply online for funding to maintain, modernize or build water and wastewater systems. They can visit the interactive RD Apply tool, or they can apply through one of USDA Rural Development’s state or field offices.

USDA is providing the funding through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. It can be used to finance drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

Below are a few examples of USDA’s latest investment of $164 million for 54 projects nationwide:

Wadesboro, N.C., is receiving a $706,000 loan and an $815,000 grant to improve its water distribution system. The town will install 7,000 linear feet of 8- and 12-inch PVC and ductile iron pipe water main, and 11 hydrants and service reconnections. The project will benefit the town’s 2,012 residential users, 84 commercial users, eight industrial users and five institutional users. Wadesboro, population 5,841, is in Anson County.

The village of Greenview, Ill., is receiving a $4.9 million loan and a $3.7 million grant to construct a wastewater collection and treatment facility. The system will collect and convey wastewater via a centralized pumping station. Wastewater will be transferred to a contained mechanical treatment system. Treated wastewater will then be released to Grove Creek. This project will alleviate health hazards due to private septic or aeration systems that discharge effluent into drainage fields, causing raw sewage backups in homes during major rainfalls. The new system will serve the town’s 778 residents.

In Baudette, Minn., the Wheelers Point Sanitary District is receiving a $300,000 loan and a $638,000 grant to construct a sewer collection system. The District is on the shores of Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River in Lake of the Woods County in northern Minnesota. Homes and businesses in the district have individual septic systems that need to be replaced. If these systems were to fail, the contamination would affect the river and the lake. The state considers this project a priority due to the possibility of environmental contamination. The new system will protect the environment and area waters.

USDA announced investments in Alabama, California, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

In FY 2018, Congress provided a historic level of funding for water and wastewater infrastructure. The 2018 Omnibus spending bill includes $5.2 billion for USDA loans and grants, up from $1.2 billion in FY 2017. The bill also directs Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to make investments in rural communities with the greatest infrastructure needs.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.