Rural Water Loan Helps Utility Acquire Grant, Comply with State Law

THREE RIVERS, Calif. – When California’s Proposition 50 created new state regulations for drinking water treatment, the North Kaweah Mutual Water Company found itself in need of a $1.99 million upgrade to meet the new requirements. The utility of 80 connections could apply for a state grant for the project, but they still needed funds to generate the plans and engineering to even apply for the grant. That’s when NKMWC turned to the National Rural Water Association’s Rural Water Loan Fund for a bridge loan to begin the process.

To comply with the regulations, North Kaweah would essentially have to be rebuilt, including three new wells, a chlorination system, water storage tanks, pumping stations and a new distributions system.  It was a project that would be impossible for a small utility with a volunteer board to accomplish without assistance.

“Without this bridge loan between conception and funding, we could not have undertaken the project,” Treasurer Susan Darsey said in a letter. “The Rural Water loan was critical to the successful completion of our construction project.”

NKMWC started trying to locate the funding in 2011, and quickly discovered more funding was needed just to navigate the complexities of engineering and agency oversight.

“We surely didn’t think it would be a ten-year project, but for a volunteer board working on such a large project and with California state agencies involved, we are proud of our success,” Darsey said.

NKMWC completed the project and finished repaying its loan in 2017.

“Thank you on behalf of our water users, who now have a compliant water system providing us potable water and fire protection,” Darsey said. “Your value to all rural residents is immense.”

Learn more about the impact of USDA’s Rural Utilities Service