TEMPLE, TX – Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $256 million in 81 projects to improve water and wastewater infrastructure in rural areas in 35 states. Texas State Director Edd Hargett reported that 5 of those projects were in Texas with investments totaling over $24 million. “Funding for infrastructure is vital in helping rural communities keep the pace with their rising populations,” said Hargett. “We are pleased to be able to assist these communities in meeting their water and wastewater needs.”
The recently enacted Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus spending bill includes a significant boost in financial support for water and wastewater projects. It provides $5.2 billion for USDA loans and grants, up from $1.2 billion in FY 2017. It also directs Agriculture Secretary Perdue to make investments in rural communities with the greatest infrastructure needs. In addition to funding in the 2018 Omnibus bill, President Trump has proposed a $200 billion infrastructure investment that allocates 25 percent ($50 billion) to rural projects. The loans and grants announced today are being awarded through USDA’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. The funds can be used to finance drinking water, storm-water drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents. Investments in Texas include:
- $6.5 million for the City of Kemp, population 1,154, to finance water system improvements. The project will include improvements to the water treatment plant, replacing pumps and equipment, rehabilitating the treatment building, and replacing small-diameter distribution lines. The improvements allow for the City of Kemp to continue providing quality potable water to residents and businesses in the community.
- $9.3 million for the City of Patton Village, to be used for water improvements. The funds will be used to replace the distribution system, upgrade two water plant facilities, and construct a new water facility with a new water well. The current water system has numerous violations and enforcement actions with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Once the improvements are made, the City will be able to provide residents with safe drinking water. The City of Patton Village serves a population of 1,925.
- $2 million for Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation to make improvements within its distribution system. The investment will also provide for adequate fire protection to the area. Water system improvements will include the installation of approximately 20,000 linear feet of water distribution lines in various portions of the system to replace small diameter. The population served by this project is 3,282.
- $1.2 million for TuscolaTaylor County WCID #1 to finance water line improvements. Through an Interlocal Agreement, the cost of the improvements will be shared between the Tuscola-Taylor County WCID No. 1, the town of Buffalo Gap and the City of Lawn. The improvements allow for the three communities to continue providing quality potable water to residents and businesses. The Tuscola-Taylor County WCID #1 serves a rural population of 742 residents.
- $4.8 million for the City of Wharton to help finance another well, a 500,000-ground storage tank, and a pump station to connect to the City’s water system. This additional water will increase the system’s capacity to allow for future growth and meet the maximum daily demands. The well will also provide reliability should one of the existing wells fail. The City of Wharton is in Wharton County and serves a population of 8,832.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force. To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB). USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.