OHKAY OWINGEH — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $307 million to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 34 states and Puerto Rico.
The investments announced follow President Biden’s previous announcement of a Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework that will make the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history.
The Framework will replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines, helping address barriers faced by communities of color, Tribal communities and people who live in rural America.
“Every community needs safe, reliable and modern water and wastewater systems,” Secretary Vilsack said. “The consequences of decades of disinvestment in physical infrastructure have fallen most heavily on communities of color. This is why USDA is investing in water infrastructure in rural and Tribal communities that need it most – to help them build back better, stronger and more equitably than ever before.”
New Mexico projects included in investments:
- The Ohkay Owingeh is receiving a $610,000 loan and a $1.6 million grant to build a wastewater treatment plant on Pueblo lands in Rio Arriba County. This project will help expand water treatment from 235,000 to 350,000 gallons per day and extend services to Pueblo residents who are not currently connected. These improvements will benefit 1,143 residents.
- The Pueblo de San Ildefonso is receiving a $1.9 million grant to extend sewer services to 34 homes, and add five connections for tribal facilities in the Pueblo Center and Pueblo South areas. This project will benefit residents who are on a severely outdated septic system. Septic tanks will be emptied and demolished, and health and sanitary hazards will be eliminated.
- The City of Belen is receiving a $409,000 loan and a $580,000 grant to complete an Arsenic Water Treatment Facility. Upon completion this facility will bring Belen and its 7,269 resident’s water back to required drinking water standards.
USDA is financing the projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to help eliminate outdated pipes and service lines to safeguard public health and safety in rural communities. They will help improve rural infrastructure for 250,000 residents and businesses.
The Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal, and storm water drainage. The program serves households and businesses in eligible rural areas with populations of 10,000 or less.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety, and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal, and high-poverty areas.
For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.