Thursday, March 05, 2015

Rural water systems have huge future needs, but federal help for them is shrinking, GAO study says

Rural water systems will need $140 billion worth of work "in the coming decades," but the federal programs that finance such projects are facing more than $1 billion a year in budget cuts, says a report from the Government Accountability Office, the auditing arm of Congress.

The greatest need is among the the smallest water systems, "those serving fewer than 3,300 persons," the report says. Those systems serve about 8 percent of the population, "but represent nearly 83 percent of all systems with reported funding needs."

"Because rural utilities are typically situated in areas with small and low-income tax bases, the GAO said, affordable user rates are not likely to cover the cost of major infrastructure projects or sometimes even basic water services," Whitney Forman-Cook reports for Agri-Pulse.

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