USDA funding will help 141 rural water projects get off the ground, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday.
The projects include plans to build and improve water and wastewater infrastructure in rural communities across the U.S.
"Many rural communities need to upgrade and repair their water and wastewater systems, but often lack the resources to do so," Vilsack said. "These loans and grants will help accomplish this goal. USDA's support for infrastructure improvements is an essential part of building strong rural economies."
USDA is awarding $299 million for 88 projects in the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program and $15 million for 53 grants in the Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant program.
ECWAG grants enable water systems that serve eligible rural communities to prepare for, or recover from, imminent or actual emergencies that threaten the availability of safe drinking water. Water and Waste program recipients can use funds to construct water and waste facilities in rural communities.
Some funding recipients were given priority points through a provision in the 2014 Farm Bill that encourages communities to adopt regional economic development plans. These projects are centered on regional collaboration and long-term growth strategies.
Six of the projects will provide $3.9 million to benefit Native American areas, while two projects will provide $9.1 million for colonias in New Mexico.
Since 2009, USDA has helped provide improved water and wastewater services to nearly 18 million rural residents by investing $12.3 billion in 5,174 projects.
Funding of each award announced today is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant and loan agreement.
USDA Rural Development is accepting applications for loans and grants to build rural water infrastructure. Applications may be completed online through RDAPPLY, a new electronic filing system, and at state and local Rural Development offices.
Public entities (counties, townships and communities), non-profit organizations and tribal communities with a population of 10,000 or less are eligible to apply.