The Water Well Trust, a national nonprofit helping rural Americans get access to a clean, safe water supply, has received a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Decentralized Water Systems (DWS) program for water well and wastewater projects to increase potable water system availability and access to wastewater systems to rural households throughout the U.S.
The USDA grant and matching funds from the Water Systems Council will be used to fund Water Well Trust projects throughout the U.S. This is the eighth USDA grant received by the Water Well Trust since 2014.
In the past seven years, USDA grant monies have been used to increase potable water availability to rural households in Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Georgia, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, and, since 2020, throughout the United States. To date, the Water Well Trust has been involved in drilling or rehabilitating over 256 water wells serving 270 households, many of which were USDA projects.
“This new grant will provide fantastic new resources for meeting the needs of Americans without access to clean, safe water or wastewater systems,” said Water Well Trust Executive Director Margaret Martens. “The Trust has a long waiting list of families who have been hanging on for years, hoping for this kind of help. For them, every day without water and/or sanitation is a struggle. This grant will help us fulfill the promise of a better life for these American families much more quickly.”
The grant monies will provide long-term, low-interest loans to applicants seeking new or improved water wells, and for the first time, septic systems. The Water Well Trust limits funding to a maximum of $15,000 per system. Loans have an interest rate of 1% with terms of up to 20 years.
To qualify for a WWT loan, applicants must be the owner and occupant of the home as their primary residence and must not have access to a public water supply or sewer. The applicant’s household income must not exceed 60% of the median non-metropolitan household income for the state in which the applicant resides. The income criteria apply to both the applicant and all other occupants of the home.
Prospective applicants can download the application form and instruction letter from the Water Well Trust website.
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 more economical. According to the latest American Community Survey, there are 460,000 households — or 1.5 million Americans — living without access to access to clean, safe, affordable drinking water. This number does not include tribal communities, where an estimated one in 10 Indigenous Americans lack access to safe water or basic sanitation.