USDA announces $4 billion in available water infrastructure grants |

USDA announces $4 billion in available water infrastructure grants

Patrick Varine
Flood waters cover a section of Route 381 near Route 30 in Ligonier Township on Thursday, June 21, 2018, a day after flash flooding wreaked havoc on the valley. The USDA has made available $4 billion in grants for water infrastructure projects in rural communities.

A soaking-wet spring and summer brought flooding, water damage and landslides to Western Pennsylvania.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced $4 billion in grant funding to help upgrade and rebuild rural water infrastructure throughout the nation. The program is expected to benefit 165,000 people living in 24 states, including Pennsylvania.

“USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities in building their futures,” said Anne Hazlett, assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development . “All people — regardless of their ZIP code — need modern, reliable infrastructure to thrive, and we have found that when we address this need, many other challenges in rural places become much more manageable.”

Eligible rural communities and water districts can apply online for funding to maintain, modernize or build water and wastewater systems.

USDA is providing the funding through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. It can be used to finance drinking water, storm water drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

That means eligibility extends to places like:

• Delmont Borough, where council is waiting on a consent order from the state Department of Environmental Protection regarding excess storm water and sewage discharges from its sewage system onto property in Salem Township.

• Ligonier Township, Cook Township and Latrobe, which were all hit hard by flooding from Loyalhanna Creek in June.

• Bridgeville, Allegheny County, where 30 people had to be rescued after the borough was deluged with more than 3 inches of rain in late June.

The federal government’s 2018 omnibus spending bill includes $5.2 billion for USDA loans and grants, up from
$1.2 billion in FY 2017. The bill also directs Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to make investments in rural communities with the greatest infrastructure needs.

Local community officials can apply for grants at or at the local USDA office.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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