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As active members of rural water and sewer communities, you constantly seek ways to improve life for your neighbors. Access to clean, reliable water and an efficient wastewater system is a basic need in every community. For those in rural Texas, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development’s Water and Waste Disposal Programs Direct Loans and Grants can be a lifeline. 

usda grants

Understanding the USDA Water & Waste Disposal Loan & Grant Program 

This program primarily offers funding for clean drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, solid waste disposal, and stormwater drainage to households and businesses in eligible rural areas. It aims to assist those who cannot obtain commercial credit on reasonable terms. Eligible applicants include state and local governmental entities, private nonprofits, and federally-recognized tribes. 

Specifically, this funding can be used for acquiring, constructing, or improving drinking water sourcing, treatment, storage, and distribution. It can also cover sewer collection, transmission, treatment, and disposal. Additionally, it can fund related activities like legal and engineering fees, land acquisition, water and land rights, permits, equipment, start-up operations, and maintenance. 

If necessary to keep user costs reasonable, a grant may be combined with a loan. The loan terms are up to 40 years, based on the useful life of the facilities financed, with fixed interest rates determined by the need for the project and the median household income of the area to be served. 

Benefiting From the USDA Loan & Grant Program: A Case Study 

For instance, let’s look at a hypothetical town named Texville, a rural area in Texas with a population of less than 10,000. The town’s water treatment plant was aged and in dire need of renovation. The community, primarily farmers, couldn’t afford to fund the upgrade, and commercial loans were too expensive. 

By leveraging the USDA’s Water & Waste Disposal Loan & Grant Program, Texville was able to secure a low-interest, 40-year loan to revamp its water treatment plant and replace aging pipelines. Alongside the loan, a grant was combined to keep the costs for users reasonable. As a result, the town now enjoys a more efficient water system, reducing water losses and improving service reliability.  

Moreover, some of the funds were allocated to legal and engineering fees, permits, and start-up operations and maintenance, ensuring that the improved water system is sustainable and serves the community’s needs for years to come. 

Your Step towards Better Rural Water and Sewer Systems 

As an active participant in your rural water and sewer community, you can explore the potential benefits of the USDA’s program. The application process is open year-round and can be filed electronically. Detailed resources, including forms, guidance, and certifications, are available online to guide you. 

Program specialists in your local RD office can answer your questions and provide further assistance. In addition, participating nonprofits in your area may also offer assistance and training. 

The USDA Rural Development’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan & Grant Program is a way to ensure the wellbeing of your community. It’s more than a funding opportunity – it’s a tool to bring clean and reliable water to your neighbors, improve the natural environment, and potentially attract businesses to your area. With such a program, you have the power to make a significant, lasting impact on your community.