As state and local governments decide how to spend their share of federal pandemic aid, rural water experts are encouraging stakeholders to educate themselves about the available aid and speak up about their water-system improvement needs, Daniel Vock reports for Route Fifty.
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act included $350 billion in direct aid to help state and local governments cope with the economic fallout of the pandemic, but the law also allows recipients to use the money for other priorities such as water infrastructure, Vock notes.
Liz Royer, executive director of the Vermont Rural Water Association, is encouraging rural water systems in her state to tell town officials about their needs. Royer said some of the smallest systems would have few other options to get money from the state, especially those run by fire districts instead of town governments. But even small amounts of funding could be critical to small water systems."You’re not going to do a loan application [through the state] for a $10,000 or $20,000 project," Royer told Vock. "But some of these very, very small systems may only have 50 customers, so for them to do an upgrade that’s going to cost $25,000 is going to be a big hit to their customers with low incomes."