Letter: More than $4B in loans available for rural water projects

Published 10:16 pm Thursday, August 2, 2018

Not long ago, the United States was a world leader in infrastructure investments. Federal and private funding helped even the most remote communities obtain electricity, running water and access to the rest of the world through telecommunications.

However, recent years have not followed the same trend, and too many rural communities have been left behind. The need for improvement is great, especially for rural water and wastewater systems.

To put this in perspective, the American Water Works Association estimates that more than $600 billion is needed over the next 20 years to upgrade our nation’s water and wastewater systems. Unfortunately, many small and rural water systems lack access to affordable financing.

Email newsletter signup

But there is hope for the future. This year, USDA Rural Development has more than $4 billion in direct loans available now to help rural communities build or upgrade water infrastructure. This is a substantial increase from last year. In 2017, USDA helped more than 2.5 million rural residents get access to upgraded water and wastewater systems.  I am excited to see how many more people we can help with this unprecedented funding opportunity.

I encourage rural community leaders and water district operators to apply now for this assistance before the Sept. 30 deadline. USDA state and field offices are great resources to use during the application process, and we have technical assistance providers with water and waste expertise that can help complete rural communities’ applications.

USDA’s support for rural water infrastructure is already making a big impact here in Minnesota. Over the past two years alone, USDA has invested more than $86 million in water/wastewater infrastructure for nearly 60 communities throughout the state. These investments wouldn’t have been possible without collaboration through our numerous partnerships. For example, in 2017 our partnerships with the MN Public Facilities Authority and the Small Cities Development Program helped us invest more than $43 million in 10 new community projects — half of our total water/wastewater infrastructure investments from the past two years.

Water districts and rural communities can apply for USDA loans electronically using the interactive RDApply tool on the USDA Rural Development website (rd.usda.gov). Also, USDA state and field offices are great resources to use during the application process. Minnesota’s office locations and contact information can also be found on the Rural Development website (rd.usda.gov/mn).

USDA is eager to partner with you in this effort to modernize water infrastructure in our state’s rural communities.


Brad Finstad


USDA Rural Development Minnesota