Temple, Texas, Dec 10, 2013 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced funding for projects in 40 states to finance investments in improved water and wastewater systems for more than 200,000 rural residents.
“Rural businesses and residents need access to clean water and modern waste disposal systems. This isn’t just an economic issue, it’s an issue of basic health and safety,” said Vilsack. “Water and wastewater projects like these help safeguard rural access to a modern, working infrastructure, which in turn ensures a decent quality of life and helps attract – and keep – the best and brightest in small towns across America.
Vilsack noted that passage of a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs bill would help tackle the $2.1 billion backlog of shovel-ready rural water/wastewater projects, and said the bill is vital to rural communities. These are just some of the reasons why Congress should pass a comprehensive bill as soon as possible, he said.
In the announcement, USDA is providing $203 million to finance 74 water and infrastructure improvement projects in 40 states contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the funding agreement. For example, in Texas, the El Paso County Water Improvement District #4 is getting a $4.2 million loan/grant combination to install a new water storage tank and nano-filtration system. The project will provide clean, safe water for more than 8,000 residents. The City of Lone Star was also selected to receive a $3.09 million loan/grant combination to make water and wastewater improvements, including the installation of fire hydrants, high service pumps, lift stations and an emergency standby generator. The project will benefit 1,581 residents of the City of Lone Star.
“The Water and Waste Disposal program is a vital funding source available to rural communities to help them keep pace with the needs of their rising populations,” said Paco Valentin, USDA Rural Development Texas State Director. “Rural Development is pleased to offer funding to improve water and wastewater service to approximately 9,500 residents of El Paso County and the City of Lone Star.”
The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Water and Environmental Program. It will have a significant impact on rural residents and businesses just as the nearly 3,900 water and wastewater projects authorized by the Farm Bill that Rural Development has financed since 2009. These projects have created jobs and provided clean water for nearly 14 million rural residents.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.