The Water Well Trust, the only national nonprofit helping Americans get access to a clean, safe water supply, has completed 27 water well projects in 16 Georgia counties funded by a grant from the USDA’s Household Water Well Systems Grant program.
In 2015, the USDA awarded a $140,000 matching grant to the Water Well Trust to increase potable water availability to rural households in 16 Georgia counties, including Colquitt, Elbert, Grady, Hancock, Jefferson, Jones, Macon, Meriwether, Monroe, Murray, Turner, Twiggs, Warren, Washington, Wilcox, and Worth.
A total of 27 water wells were drilled or rehabilitated, providing clean drinking water to 65 Georgia residents, including 18 minor children and nine elderly residents. The total cost of the 27 water well projects was $199,753, with additional monies donated by members of the Water Systems Council.
One of the Georgia water well recipients had been on a waitlist since 2014, noting on her application that, “I am asking for help because we have been without water for almost 8 years. Our well caved in and we have to haul water in for our daily needs. We buy spring water for drinking. We tried to get the state to put water out here but they won’t do it. We just can’t live like this anymore. We cannot express how grateful we would be for your help.”
USDA grant monies are used to provide long-term, low-interest loans to applicants seeking new or improved water wells. Funding is limited to a maximum of $11,000 per household. Loans have an interest rate of 1% with terms of up to 20 years.
“It’s a great program because it is a low interest loan, as opposed to simply a giveaway. This serves as a real motivation,” said Alex Pezon of Washington County, Georgia, whose family benefitted from the Water Well Trust program. “It meets the needs of so many like me who just need a hand to meet their water needs. It helped me tremendously.”
The Water Well Trust received another USDA grant in 2016 for water well projects in 19 South Carolina counties, including Darlington, Lee, Marion, Sumter, Clarendon, Williamsburg, Orangeburg, Laurens, Cherokee, Kershaw, Union, Marlboro, Fairfield, Colleton, Jasper, Spartanburg, Allendale, Chesterfield, and Hampton, as well as three New York counties, including Delaware, Rensselaer and Columbia. Those projects are currently underway.
The Water Systems Council established the Water Well Trust in 2010 to provide clean, sanitary drinking water to Americans who lack access to a reliable water supply and to construct and document small community water systems using water wells to demonstrate that these systems are a cost effective solution for delivering safe drinking water to rural households.