LITTLE ROCK, AK ― Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett has 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 including New Mexico.
“No matter what zip code you live in, infrastructure is a foundation for quality of life and economic opportunity,” Hazlett said. “Through strong partnerships, USDA is ensuring that rural communities have the modern, reliable infrastructure they need to prosper.”
During her keynote address at the Arkansas Rural Development conference, Hazlett spoke about USDA’s longstanding partnership with state and local officials to improve the quality of life in rural communities. She met with various representatives on issues important to rural Arkansas residents and businesses, such as ways USDA is partnering with local communities to support opioid treatment, prevention and recovery services. She also highlighted USDA efforts to support e-Connectivity in the state.
New Mexico is receiving two of the 81 rural water and wastewater infrastructure projects Hazlett announced. The Estancia Moriarty Willard Torrance (EMWT) Regional Water Association is receiving a $3,994,500 loan/grant package to fund the construction of a new water system for the unincorporated community of McIntosh. The community with a population of 1,484 currently does not have public water system and the residents get their water from private water wells. McIntosh is located in the Estancia Water Basin, which is a closed water basin (no rivers) and has a history of private wells going dry.
This project will develop a community well which will be drilled deeper to ensure a constant water supply, a reliable source of drinking water, adequate water quality and fire protection. The lack of water in itself has created a major concern for the residents because there is a health, sanitation and security problem for the population. The new water system will include the installation of a new 221,200-gallon water storage tank, a 12-inch transmission line, approximately seven miles of looped six-inch distribution line, and a new well that will provide sufficient water supply to the community. The water will be treated with an in-line chlorine disinfection system before being distributed to community members.
Also, the second phase of the Lower Rio Grande Public Water Works Authority’s Mesquite/Brazito Sewer System Improvements Project is being funded with a $6,189,00 loan and a $8,030,000 Colona grant. The new sewer system will be built with the installation of seven duplex lift stations; approximately 54,700 linear feet of gravity collection pipeline; 164 manholes; 21,500 linear feet of force main; eight package grinder pump units; and 381 new sewer connections. The new connections will eliminate the use of septic tanks and the potential for groundwater pollution and contamination. The sewer delivery system will connect to the Southern Dona Ana County Wastewater Treatment plant. The improvements will benefit the 1,088 residential and 20 commercial users within the two communities.
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 Hazlett 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, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.
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.