Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, Anne Hazlett, recently announced that the United States (U.S.) Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be investing $256 million in 81 projects to improve water and wastewater infrastructure in rural areas in 35 states.
“No matter what zip code you live in, infrastructure is a foundation for quality of life and economic opportunity,” Hazlett said. “Through strong partnerships, the USDA is ensuring that rural communities have the modern, reliable infrastructure they need to prosper.”
During her keynote address at the Arkansas Rural Development conference, Hazlett spoke about USDA’s longstanding partnership with state and local officials to improve the quality of life in rural communities. She met with various representatives on issues important to rural Arkansas residents and businesses, such as ways USDA is partnering with local communities to support opioid treatment, prevention and recovery services. She also highlighted USDA efforts to support e-Connectivity in the state.
The recently enacted Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus spending bill includes a significant boost in financial support for water and wastewater projects. It provides US$5.2 billion for USDA loans and grants, up from US$1.2 billion in FY 2017. It also directs Agriculture Secretary Perdue to make investments in rural communities with the greatest infrastructure needs.
In addition to funding in the 2018 Omnibus bill, President Trump has proposed a US$200 billion infrastructure investment that allocates 25 per centto rural projects.
The loans and grants will be awarded through USDA’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant programme. The funds can be used to finance drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.