Apr 23, 2015

Government to Fund Water Quality, Energy Efficiency Projects Across Rural America

U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide $112 million to help rural communities with water, energy infrastructure

rural utility, funding, rural funding

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced support for projects to improve rural water and wastewater services, promote renewable energy and promote the efficient use of energy resources.

"I am proud to announce that USDA is providing more than $112 million in loans and grants to help rural communities build and upgrade their water and energy infrastructure systems," said Vilsack. "Not only do projects such as these help ensure communities have access to clean water and affordable energy, they also create jobs and boost the economy."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing the funding for water and wastewater infrastructure projects through Rural Development's Water and Environmental Program (WEP).

The city of Crete, Neb., for example, has been selected for an $11.7 million WEP loan and a $1.7 million WEP grant to replace its wastewater treatment facility. It was built in 1974 and is unable meet Clean Water Act ammonia limits. The project is expected to be completed in 2016 and benefit he town's 6,028 residents.

Under Secretary Lisa Mensah visited an Earth Day project in Henderson, Md., on the state's Eastern Shore. The town is receiving a $175,000 grant to make emergency repairs to its water system. A combination of unusually cold temperatures in February and high demand caused the aging system to fail – leaving the town's 146 residents temporarily without water. A temporary solution is keeping the wells in operation, but significant repairs to the water supply system are needed to ensure a continued water supply.

In Missouri, Rural Development awarded a $1.6 million loan to help the city of Holts Summit build a regional pump station at its wastewater treatment facility. This will extend the collection system to five areas within city limits that lack sewer service.

Twenty-five organizations have been selected for energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants through USDA's Rural Energy for America Program. The grants support programs to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses evaluate energy efficiency systems and determine the most effective and affordable method of incorporating renewable energy technologies into their operations. Eligible recipients are government bodies, utilities and institutions of higher education.

In all, USDA is funding 37 water and wastewater projects and 25 renewable energy projects totaling more than $112 million.

View the list of recipients. Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement.