COFFEE COUNTY, Ala. (WTVY) -- Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley today announced that USDA is investing $116 million to help rebuild and improve rural water infrastructure for 171,000 rural Americans in 23 states. Chris Beeker, state director of Rural Development in Alabama, said more than $9 million will be invested in two rural Alabama communities.
“Helping to bring modern water and wastewater infrastructure to rural communities will increase economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for rural residents,” Baxley said. “The investments USDA is announcing today are foundational to health, safety and economic development in rural communities across America.”
USDA is working with local partners to provide financing for 49 water and environmental infrastructure projects. The funding is being provided through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. It can be used for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.
Eligible communities and water districts can apply online on the interactive RD Apply tool or through one of USDA Rural Development’s state or field offices.
The Jack Water System in Coffee County will use a $675,000 loan and a $507,000 grant to make much-needed infrastructure improvements. Constructing a larger, elevated water storage tank and rehabilitating the well will eliminate the need to purchase water from a neighboring system. With this additional supply, the Jack Water System will operate more efficiently and continue to provide safe, affordable drinking water to its 1,138 residential and commercial customers.
Wilcox County Water Authority is receiving a $2,065,000 loan and a $5,905,738 grant to expand and improve the water system. The expansion will provide access to safe, affordable drinking water for 137 new residential customers, and will provide an interconnection with the West Dallas Water Authority. Improvements include repainting all four water tanks; installing a new automated meter reading system, radio-read meters, and an automated control and data system on all wells and tanks; and conducting geographic information system mapping of the system's infrastructure. The Wilcox County Water Authority serves 1,868 residential and 157 commercial customers. Earlier this year, the authority received a $22,462 USDA predevelopment planning grant for this infrastructure project.
In addition to Alabama, USDA is making investments in rural communities in: Arkansas, Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington.
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.
To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity. In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic. USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.