Finally, there’s a bit of good news for water in the San Luis Valley.
Earlier this month on November 19, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy announced that the department is investing $635 million in 122 projects (PDF, 315 KB) to improve water systems and wastewater handling services in rural communities in 42 states. USDA is funding the projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program.
The projects will benefit communities from across America, but those closer to home in Colorado include one in Saguache County. The town of Center will use a $1,855,000 million loan and $6,663,000 million grant to replace the district’s failing lagoons wastewater plant with a mechanical wastewater treatment plant. The existing lagoons system is currently out of compliance. This investment, along with a partnership with the Department of Local Affairs, will assist the district in installing a new treatment plant which will bring the district back into compliance with Colo. Department of Public Health and Environment.
“These investments will bring reliable infrastructure to rural communities. They will replace old, fragile, leaking water pipes with new ones and allow upgrades to water handling systems that are decades old, boosting water pressure and cutting water losses. Working with our partners, these investments create jobs and improve public health and safety,” LaVoy said.
One of the other awards in Colorado went to Florida River Estates, a real estate subdivision located 6 miles Northeast of Durango on CR 240 (Florida Rd). The Florida River Estates HOA, Inc. is a non-profit organization responsible for the management of the community water system, common areas and the HOA.
This Rural Development investment will be used to make water system upgrades. The distribution system will be replaced with new mains, valves, meter pits, meters and yokes to bring the system up to the American Water Works Association standards.
Both of these awards were sponsored by Saguache County’s Washington representatives: Senators Michael Bennet, and Cory Gardner, as well as Rep. Scott Tipton (03). Eligible applicants include rural cities, towns and water districts. The funds can be used for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems in rural communities that meet population limits.
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.
“Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to partnering with rural communities to help them improve their infrastructure, because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives,” concluded Sec. LaVoy.
To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.