News Briefs: New Study to Examine Water Infrastructure Quality's Relation to Economic Growth

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, the USDA announces funding is available for drinking water systems through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program

The University of Kentucky’s Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky is teaming with Communities Unlimited in Arkansas and the Urban Institute on a three-year study — the first nationally — to analyze the role of site-specific water and wastewater infrastructure quality, capacity and noncompliance on rural economic development and growth.

Funded through a rural economic development award from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the project is led by Alison Davis, UK agricultural economics professor and CEDIK director, Ines Polonius, Communities Unlimited CEO, and Corianne Scally, a principal research associate at the Urban Institute.

Aside from data collection and analysis, the team also intends to provide resources and educational training to water and wastewater operators, their boards and local economic development professionals and to promote better local, state and federal decision-making.

“This project is designed to better understand the repercussions of poorly managed or under-resourced water quality and wastewater. We’ll look at how it affects economic development and population trends,” says Davis, a faculty member in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

EPA Announces $388 WIFIA Loan for San Diego Purification Project

At a recent event in East San Diego County, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox announced a $388 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan to the East County Joint Powers Authority for its Advanced Water Purification Project.

With EPA’s WIFIA loan, this innovative project will produce purified water to meet up to 30% of East County’s drinking water demand, increasing reliability in the drought-stressed region, while saving East County millions of dollars. 

“EPA is proud to partner on this project, which uses proven technology to bolster drinking water supplies in this climate-stressed region,” says Fox. “Water infrastructure is one of the best investments we can make to improve public health and the environment, create jobs and address pressing challenges that face our communities.”

USDA Announces Funds Available for Drinking Water Systems

The United States Department of Agriculture is making funds available through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program.

Eligible applicants are encouraged to apply by using the online application system RD Apply. In Fiscal Year 2020, USDA’s Water and Environmental Programs invested $2.09 billion improving rural infrastructure for 2.1 million rural residents.

The Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program provides loans and grants for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, solid waste disposal, and stormwater drainage to households and businesses in rural areas with a population of 10,000 or less. Eligible applicants include local public bodies, nonprofit corporations and federally recognized tribes.

Low-interest-rate financing can be combined with grants to keep user rates affordable, and loans can carry a repayment term of up to 40 years.


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