$256 Million In Water Infrastructure Promises Better Quality of Life in Rural America


Quality of life is closely tied to water management, availability, and use. However, poor infrastructure causes problems in the supply and management of water. This includes leaks, contamination, and access. 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is currently in the process of investing $256 million to improve water infrastructure in rural areas. Their goal is to improve the quality of water and manage wastewater through 81 projects across 35 states says Anna Hazlett, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development. 

Hazlett, in her keynote speech at the Arkansas Rural Development conference, described a strong partnership between the USDA and state & local officials. She spoke about the need for directly addressing the residents’ concerns (businesses included). In addition, their partnership will develop e-Connectivity in Arkansas. She emphasizes that regardless of where a society is situated, reliable and modern water infrastructure improves the quality of life and creates economic opportunities.

One project to be funded under this infrastructure budget is the Brazito Sewer system under the Lower Rio Grande Public Water Works Authority. The project will improve the quality of life for 1,088 residents and 20 businesses across two communities. They have received a 6 million dollar loan and an 8 million Colona grant. The new sewer system will have seven duplex lift stations, about 54,700 linear feet of gravity collection pipeline, 21,500 linear feet of force, 164 utility holes, 381 new sewer connections, eight package grinder pump units. The new infrastructure, which connects with the Southern Dona Ana County Wastewater Treatment Plant, will also abandon septic tanks and lower the likelihood of groundwater contamination. 

The lack of water in the unincorporated establishment of McIntosh, New Mexico was a huge problem because of existing health, security, and sanitation problems in the population (1484). This project acquired nearly 4 million in funds to build a deep community well with a water system. It includes a new 221,200-gallon water storage tank, 7 miles of looped 15-centimeter distribution lines, and 30-centimeter transmission lines, and in-line chlorine-based disinfection system. This would create a reliable source of high-quality drinking water as well as fire protection. 
In the 2018 Fiscal year, the Omnibus spending bill boosted financial support for water projects. Grants and loans increased from $1.2 billion in 2017 to $5.2 billion in 2018. In addition, the bill directs the Agriculture Secretary Perdue to invest in rural societies where the need for improvement is higher. President Trump proposes a $200 billion investment in infrastructure development of which 25% is dedicated to rural developmental projects. 

President Trump created the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in April ‘17 to support the mission that improves rural communities. Eight months later, Secretary Perdue of the Task Force reported 31 recommendations based on the Task Force’s assessment. These recommendations would unite the federal government with the local and state authorities to improve rural water infrastructure in America. 

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