Washington — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Friday, July 9, that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $307 million to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 34 states and Puerto Rico. As part of the announcement, USDA in Vermont is investing $5.53 million ($3.78M loan, $1.75M grant) to rehabilitate the town of Brandon’s wastewater treatment facility so it will meet modern design guidelines and operate safely and more efficiently.

Improvements include decommissioning an abandoned flow measurement structure, implementing a facility-wide SCADA system, replacing gas-detection sensors, and refurbishing electrical, HVAC and lighting systems.

These upgrades will remove employee hazards and reduce environmental impacts and public health risks to the roughly 3,900 people and 300 businesses affected.

The investments being announced today follow President Biden’s announcement last week of a Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework that will make the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history.

The Framework will replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines, helping address barriers faced by communities of color, Tribal communities, and rural America.

“Every community needs safe, reliable and modern water and wastewater systems,” said Secretary Vilsack. “The consequences of decades of disinvestment in physical infrastructure have fallen most heavily on communities of color. This is why USDA is investing in water infrastructure in rural and Tribal communities that need it most to help them build back better, stronger and more equitably than ever before.”

USDA is financing the projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to help eliminate outdated pipes and service lines to safeguard public health and safety in rural communities. They will help improve rural infrastructure for 250,000 residents and businesses.

USDA announced investments in Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington Wisconsin, West Virginia and Puerto Rico.

The Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal, and storm water drainage. The program serves households and businesses in eligible rural areas with populations of 10,000 or less.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas.