TULARE COUNTY – California legislators fell short on their promise to ensure every resident has a reliable source of clean drinking water, but the federal government is picking up the mantle for at least two local communities.
On Aug. 3, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing more than $5 million in rural southern Tulare County communities of Pixley and Poplar to upgrade water systems. Funds are provided through the agency’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program.
The announcement came during an infrastructure roundtable in Pixley hosted by Hazlett and Rural Development California State Director Kim Dolbow Vann.
The roundtable included key partners who provided significant insight on infrastructure needs in rural California, including the unique challenges in the San Joaquin Valley.
“Poplar and Pixley have infrastructure needs that are echoed across California’s communities, and addressing those needs is vital to rural prosperity,” said Vann. “We are committed to these partnerships to assist with infrastructure upgrades and advancements to enhance rural quality of life.”
Pixley Public Utilities District will receive a $1.7 million loan and a $1.8 million grant to repair their antiquated well system and install a new well. The current infrastructure was built in the late 1940s and could not adequately serve their more than 3,000 residents. The District will also construct new sections of the water main to connect the water source wells and improve distribution capability.
Poplar Community Services District will receive a $499,000 loan and a $1.3 million grant to replace one of their wells, which will modernize their water system to adequately serve their community. Improvements to the site will include fencing and site surfacing. The well will also be furnished with a standby generator to address power service issues during serving utility outages. The district serves 2,470 residents.
This year, Congress allotted $4 billion nationally through the program to partner with rural communities to create a strong foundation of modern, reliable infrastructure. Funding is still available, and it can be used to finance drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with a population of 10,000 or less.
Eligible Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally and state-recognized Native American tribes. There is no limit on the size of the loans.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business developments; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/ca and follow us on Twitter @CaliforniaRD.