Ag Department splashes out $80 million for rural water

WASHINGTON, DC, September 15, 2004 (ENS): U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman announced Tuesday the approval of nearly $80 million in loans and grants to assist 38 rural communities in 25 states improve their water/wastewater infrastructure.

The funds will be used by rural communities to provide clean, safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater disposal.

"The Bush administration understands that for a community to improve its economic opportunity and quality of life, basic community infrastructure is essential," said Veneman. "These funds will help improve the health and safety of America's rural communities."

Veneman cited Polk County in rural Tennessee as an example of how the funds will play a role in improving the quality of life for area residents.

County officials requested funds to construct six miles of water lines in the Isabella area of eastern Polk County and in the City of Ducktown where 81 residential users have struggled with contaminated water wells.

The funds will allow those residents to connect to a safer and more reliable source of water.

Funding for the 38 projects is made up of $60.5 million in loans and $19.3 million in grants and will be contingent upon meeting the conditions of the loan and grant agreements.

Veneman said that since the beginning of the Bush administration, the Rural Development section of her department has funded $6.3 billion in loans and grants. Communities have used the funds in the construction or improvement of more than 4,000 water or wastewater systems, benefiting more than 2.7 million rural area residents.

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