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LEAF, Miss. – When a lightning strike damaged Well Number 3 for the Leaf Water Association in Leaf, Miss. it created a financial emergency for the small utility. A loan from the National Rural Water Association’s Rural Water Loan Fund helped the system make affordable emergency repairs to the well.
“We had a lightning strike that split open the steel pipe and damaged the pump at the well,” explained Leaf Water Association Treasurer Pam McClendon. “We were in a bind and we needed help.”
The repairs were estimated at over $140,000, well above the funds the system had on-hand.
“We didn’t have the funds and there were no grants available,” McClendon said. “We decided to try something other than the bank because the interest was so much higher.”
The water association contacted the Mississippi Rural Water Association and began investigating the National Rural Water Association’s Rural Water Loan Fund. The Rural Water Loan Fund is a funding program specifically designed to meet the unique needs of small water and wastewater utilities. The RWLF provides low-cost loans for short-term repair costs, small capital projects, or pre-development costs associated with larger projects. The RWLF was established through a grant from the USDA/RUS, and repaid funds are used to replenish the fund and make new loans.
“We decided it was a good investment, working with rural water,” McClendon said.
The RWLF is designed to have a simple, easy application process.
“I went on-line and filled out the application,” she said. “It was very easy, and I corresponded with NRWA several times. Everyone was very helpful.”
The loan was a huge benefit and allowed Leaf Water Association to make emergency repairs to their well.
“We were just so glad to get it fixed,” McClendon said. “When we learned the loan was approved, I jumped up and gave a shout.”
McClendon considers Leaf’s Rural Water Loan a success and is very happy with the program.
“It’s an awesome program for small, rural communities like Leaf,” she said. “We were not put on the back burner because we were small.”