USDA provides funding opportunities

Water and wastewater facilities are vital to the health, safety and economic success of rural communities. During fiscal year fiscal year 2012, the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development infrastructure investment has improved rural economies through delivery of vital utility services, creating jobs and building stronger communities that are better able to grow and attract new business.

During fiscal year 2012, RUS invested over $1.4 billion in 845 water and wastewater projects in rural areas nationwide. Not only is reliable access to clean water necessary for rural communities to grow and prosper, but the design and construction of rural utility systems brings jobs and economic growth.

Continuing the commitment made in 2011 to focus on funding the smallest, most economically-challenged communities, Rural Development invested $221 million in persistent poverty counties in 21 states during fiscal year 2012 to improve health, safety and economic viability in these areas. Over $38.5 million funded technical assistance and training activities. This investment in water and wastewater expertise provides rural communities with the skills and knowledge for sustainable systems.

Rural Development’s Water and Environmental Program is the only federal program exclusively dedicated to serving the needs of small rural areas. The absence of clean water is not just an obstacle to growth and economic development, but a threat to the very survival of rural communities. By addressing these challenges, rural water systems play a key role in growth and prosperity of their communities.

Program assistance is provided in many ways, including direct or guaranteed loans, grants, technical assistance, research and educational materials. Please check the links below for more information.

1. Direct Loans and Grants – To develop water and waste disposal systems in rural areas and towns with a population not in excess of 10,000. The funds are available to public bodies, non-profit corporations and Indian tribes.

2. Guaranteed Loans – To provide a loan guarantee for the construction or improvement of water and waste disposal projects serving the financially needy communities in rural areas. This purpose is achieved through bolstering the existing private credit structure through the guarantee of quality loans which will provide lasting benefits. The water and waste disposal guarantee loans are to serve a population not in excess of 10,000 in rural areas.

3. Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants – To assist rural communities that have experienced a significant decline in quantity or quality of drinking water due to an emergency, or in which such decline is considered imminent, to obtain or maintain adequate quantities of water that meets the standards set by the Safe Drinking Water Act. This emergency is considered an occurrence of an incident such as, but not limited to, a drought, earthquake, flood, tornado, hurricane, disease outbreak or chemical spill, leakage or seepage.

4. Pre-development Planning Grants – Predevelopment planning grants may be available, if needed, to assist in paying costs associated with developing a complete application for a proposed project. 5. Loans for Very Small Projects – To assist communities with water and wastewater systems. Qualified private non-profit organizations will receive RFP grant funds to establish a lending program for eligible entities. This grant program is to serve a rural area with a population not in excess of 10,000.