Dec 30, 2009

Agriculture Secretary Announces $116 Million for Rural Water Projects

Recovery Act funds to help improve infrastructure in rural areas of 19 states

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the selection of $116.9 million in water and environmental project loans and grants that are being funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Altogether, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced $2.08 billion for Recovery Act water and environmental project loans and grants.

"Recovery Act projects are helping rural communities of all sizes build a foundation for economic strength, future prosperity and a healthy environment," Vilsack said. "The projects we're announcing today will help create jobs while rebuilding America's infrastructure."

For example, the West Dallas Water Authority in Selma, Ala., was selected to receive a $1.2 million loan and $1.8 million grant to expand the water system in Dallas County--a persistent poverty county. The expansion will include construction of new water distribution lines, which will provide potable drinking water to approximately 100 new residential customers in an unserved area of Dallas County. Additionally, new generators will be purchased to serve as backup power supply to provide more reliable water service during natural disasters and power outages.

Meanwhile, the Wysox Municipal Authority in Towanda, Pa., has been selected to receive a $1.9 million loan to provide safe public drinking water to a community of more than 480 residents. Currently, the community has no public water system and the residents are faced with using water that contains bacteria, volatile organic and inorganic chemicals. Funding will be used to install 60,000 linear ft of water lines through the township and construct a 220,000-gal water storage tank and pump station.

The funding announced is being administered by USDA Rural Development's Water and Environmental Program, which provides loans and grants to ensure that the necessary investments are made in water and wastewater infrastructure to deliver safe drinking water and protect the environment in rural areas.