Rural Communities Need to Share the Lessons Learned from New Infrastructure Funding
Late last month the USDA announced that the Trump Administration has approved investments of $891 Million in rural water and wastewater infrastructure improvements in 43 States. These 220 projects will help improve rural water infrastructure for 787,000 residents. I have often written in this blog and spoken at global events about this very need, so I am beyond happy to see that real money is being spent on water infrastructure... especially in the often-forgotten rural areas.
To quote the USDA release, “Upgrading water infrastructure provides a path to economic growth and protects the health and safety of people who live and work in rural areas,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Secretary Perdue, USDA continues to be a strong partner to rural communities, because we know that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
It will be integral that the communities which receive these funds not only use them efficiently but also communicate with their residents about the benefits of the projects. It is easy to get caught up in doing the work and forget to share the benefits. I would advise community leaders to reach out to someone like my team at SWSC and get help with community outreach and educational programs. In addition to sharing within your community, utility leaders need to share with other rural community leaders. The National Rural Water Association along with their State sections, is a non-profit organization dedicated to training, supporting, and promoting the water and wastewater professionals that serve small communities across the United States.
The USDA Water & Wastewater Loan & Grant Program helps very small, financially distressed rural communities extend and improve water and waste treatment facilities that serve local households and businesses. These are the stories that need to be shared and replicated. Other communities my benefit from the lessons learned from another rural community. By sharing best practices, many more rural communities can save tax dollars, improve the natural environment, and help manufacturers and businesses to locate or expand operations.
The projects are being funded through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program.