USDA to Offer $4 Billion in Loans for Rural Water, Waste Infrastructure

USDA to Offer $4 Billion in Loans for Rural Water, Waste Infrastructure

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday it will make available "a historic level of funding" for rural communities to finance improvements to their water and waste disposal infrastructure. 

According to a news release, the USDA's Water and Waste Disposal Program has $4 billion in direct loans available now to fund "the construction, upgrade, or expansion of clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage systems, solid waste disposal infrastructure, and storm water drainage in rural areas."

The USDA web site says the funds are available in the form of long-term, low-interest loans, or "[i]f funds are available, a grant may be combined with a loan if necessary to keep user costs reasonable."

Chris Beeker III, state director of Alabama's USDA Rural Development office, said potential applicants should not delay. 

"This is great news for Alabama communities, but applicants will need to act quickly to take advantage of this financing," Beeker said. "It can be a struggle for any city or county to finance a large infrastructure project, but it is especially challenging for the smaller towns and communities.

"Our staff is completely dedicated to processing and underwriting applications for these funds. This is an 'all-hands on deck' initiative by Rural Development."

A number of rural Alabama communities have struggled with aging or insufficient wastewater systems, particularly in the state's Black Belt communities like Uniontown or Hayneville

Most state and local government entities, private nonprofits, and federally-recognized tribes are eligible to apply, according to the news release.

Projects must be located within a rural area with a population of 10,000 or less. 

The terms of the loans could be for up to 40 years, based on the expected lifespan of the improvements, at fixed interest rates determined by need and the median household income of the community being served by the project.

Applications that are not approved by September 30 will be considered for funding during the next fiscal year.

USDA Rural Development says it provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. Examples include infrastructure improvements, business development, housing, schools, public safety, health care, and high-speed internet access in rural areas.

For more information, visit the USDA Rural Development Alabama web site or contact a local USDA office:

  • Huntsville: 256-532-1677; ext 5
  • Cullman: 256-734-6471; ext 4
  • Anniston: 256-831-3067; ext 4
  • Tuscaloosa: 205-553-1733; ext 4
  • Tuskegee: 334-725-3321; ext 4 
  • Ozark: 334-774-4926; ext 4
  • Camden: 334-682-4116; ext 4
  • Bay Minette: 251-937-3297; ext 4