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As dedicated contributors to rural water and sewer communities, we all wear multiple hats. One important part of our role is understanding and utilizing available resources to maximize the potential of our local water and sewer systems. Today, we are focusing on a game-changing resource for small rural utilities, the Rural Water Assistance Fund (RWAF) Program. 

What Is the RWAF Program? 

The RWAF Program is a financing initiative designed to help small rural utilities afford water and wastewater projects. It offers loans with a tax-exempt equivalent interest rate and long-term finance options, making it a cost-effective choice for communities in need. 

Rural Water Assistance Fund

This program is a beacon of hope for “rural political subdivisions” like nonprofit water supply corporations, districts, municipalities with a population of 10,000 or less, and counties where no urban area exceeds 50,000 in population. These entities can also partner with federal or state agencies or another rural political subdivision to apply for funding. 


Why is RWAF Important to You? 

The RWAF is important for your community because it can fund a diverse range of water and sewer projects. From constructing wells, water service lines, and treatment plants to acquiring groundwater and surface water rights, this fund is a lifeline for communities striving to improve their water infrastructure. 

But the RWAF isn’t limited to water projects. It also extends its financial assistance to projects aimed at enhancing water quality, including the construction or improvement of sewer treatment plants, wastewater collection and treatment facilities, and nonpoint source pollution abatement. 


Real-World Example 

Consider this. In 2022, a small municipality in rural Texas was struggling with an aging water infrastructure. A crucial water tank needed urgent replacement, but the community lacked the necessary funds. By applying to the RWAF Program, they secured a low-cost loan that enabled them to replace the tank. The result? Their water distribution system improved significantly, and they were able to provide a reliable water supply to their residents. 


Making the Most of the RWAF 

Despite offering only loans due to funding limitations, the RWAF ensures reasonable rates for customers while covering the TWDB’s cost of funds and risk exposure. Plus, it offers a maximum 40-year maturity on loans, aligning with the useful life of the project, and a swift turnaround time on loan applications. 


Moreover, the RWAF supports the pre-design funding option. This allows an eligible applicant to receive a loan commitment based on preliminary engineering, environmental, economic, and social information. Funds for detailed planning, including environmental studies, are provided at closing. Funds for design, final plans, and construction are kept in escrow until needed. 

Application Process 

The RWAF program accepts applications year-round, with no opening or closing deadlines. Your first step is to schedule a pre-application conference with your Regional Project Implementation Team to discuss your proposed project. You’ll receive guidance and assistance without any obligation to continue the process. 

Take the Next Step 

Ready to make a significant difference in your community’s water and sewer system? Reach out to your Regional Project Implementation Team and start exploring how the RWAF program can serve your community’s unique needs. 


The RWAF program is a valuable tool for disadvantaged rural communities looking to improve their water and wastewater treatment systems. With careful planning and collaboration, this resource can make a world of difference in the lives of your community members. So, let’s work together to create a future where everyone enjoys clean, reliable water and sewer services.