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USDA dispersing funds for rural infrastructure improvements

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(The Center Square) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday over $800 million in federal funds to improve electric infrastructure and water systems in rural communities, of which Virginia is set to receive nearly $6 million in loans and over $3.8 million in grants.

The Wise County Public Service Authority will receive the lion’s share of Virginia’s USDA dollars in this round of funding. A loan of $1.2 million and a grant of more than $3.5 million will be used to replace more than 29,000 linear feet of water line, install 12 gate valves, and assemble 10 fire hydrants, among other things, to address a current health hazard.

At least in some places, the authority’s water system exhibits less pressure than the 20 psi of minimum working pressure allowed by the Virginia Department of Health Waterworks Regulations; these repairs aim to fix that.

The Department of Environmental Quality has also identified a health hazard for the town of Mount Jackson in Shenandoah County. The town is currently under a Consent Order from the department, as the levels of ammonia, nitrogen and Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen in the town’s water supply exceed allowable levels.

The USDA is supplying Mount Jackson with a $4.7 million loan to help cover the cost of a one-million-gallon equalization tank, improving nitrification at the town’s wastewater treatment plant and bringing levels back within the acceptable range.

Finally, the town of Goshen in northwestern Virginia is receiving a Community Facilities Grant of $255,000 to go toward the purchase of land and the construction of a community center that will aid in providing health care, senior meal delivery, exercise classes and substance abuse services to residents who “now travel significant distances to obtain essential services like health care and senior programs.”

The $800 million in loans and grants will go to rural areas and facilities in 36 states, Puerto Rico and the Marshall Islands.

Minnesota received the biggest single loan, an electric infrastructure loan of $82 million, to “connect 2,290 consumers and build and improve 415 miles of line.” The loan will also fund smart grid technologies.

The Marshall Islands received the largest single grant in this round of funding for $10.9 million to replace the sewage system of the city of Majuro.

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