Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett on Monday announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $267 million in 103 infrastructure projects to upgrade water and wastewater systems in rural communities. One of those projects will help improve water infrastructure in the rural Iowa community of Sheldahl.

“Robust, modern infrastructure is foundational for quality of life and economic opportunity – no matter what zip code you live in,” Hazlett said. “Under Secretary Perdue’s leadership, USDA is committed to being a strong partner in addressing rural infrastructure needs to support a more prosperous future in rural communities.”

USDA is making investments in 35 states through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program. The funds can be used to finance drinking water, storm water drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

USDA’s partnerships are helping improve water infrastructure in rural Iowa.

The city of Sheldahl, population of 319 and located on the county lines of Polk, Boone and Story, is receiving a $444,000 loan and $634,000 grant from USDA Rural Development to finance a wastewater treatment facility upgrade used by the community.

Sheldahl owns and operates its own sewer collection system and pipes wastewater to the city of Slater for treatment in their aerated lagoons. Funds from this project will be used to pay Sheldahl’s share of the new mechanical treatment plant in Slater and will ensure wastewater treatment is compliant with Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) standards.

In FY 2018, Congress provided a historic level of funding for water and wastewater infrastructure. The 2018 Omnibus spending bill includes $5.2 billion for USDA loans and grants, up from $1.2 billion in FY 2017. It also directs Agriculture Secretary Perdue to make investments in rural communities with the greatest infrastructure needs.

Rural community leaders can apply for these funds electronically by using the interactive RD Apply tool. They can also apply through one of USDA Rural Development’s state or field offices.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care and high-speed Internet access in rural areas.