Available water is widely recognized as key component of economic development in Kansas rural communities and last week, USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator John Padalino completed a three-day tour throughout Kansas to visit with local rural water district officials and community leaders about creating opportunities for expanding rural economic activity.
"USDA helps rural communities across the country update water and wastewater infrastructure that will boost sustainable economic growth and improve the quality of life for millions of individuals living in rural areas," Padalino said. "By updating the infrastructure in rural communities, current and future residents will have access to safe and reliable water for many years to come."
Padalino's tour began at Public Wholesale Water Supply District No. 18's Water Treatment Plant in Holton on March 24. In July 2012, District No. 18 received a $1.6 million USDA Rural Development loan to update the plant's filtration system. The new system will allow the district to meet the current and future needs of the more than 3,000 Jackson County customers it serves.
On March 25, Administrator Padalino toured Asbury Park, a not-for-profit continuing care retirement community in Newton. Asbury Park received more than $16 million in USDA financing to build a 36,000-square-foot assisted-living facility. Two additional homes for individuals requiring 24-hour skilled nursing services are being built, and the first floor of Asbury Park's health care center is being remodeled to include a post- acute care unit.
Winding up the tour
Padalino's Kansas tour concluded March 26 with his keynote address at the Kansas Rural Water Conference. Padalino addressed 2,250 individuals from more than 300 cities and nearly 200 rural water systems in Kansas. Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has provided more than $170 million in financial assistance to rural communities in Kansas to improve water and wastewater infrastructure.
USDA Rural Development has six offices across the state: a State Office in Topeka, along with area offices in Garden City, Hays, Iola, Manhattan and Newton. For more information about programs available through USDA Rural Development, call (785) 271-2700 or visit USDA Rural Development online.