The Water Well Trust, a national nonprofit helping rural Americans get access to a clean, safe water supply, has received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Household Water Well Systems (HWWS) program for projects to increase potable water availability to rural households throughout the U.S.
The USDA grant and matching funds from the Water Systems Council will be used to fund more than 80 Water Well Trust projects throughout the U.S. For the first time, the Trust is being allowed to operate nationwide; previous USDA grants targeted specific states for the Trust’s water well project program.
“This new grant will provide fantastic new resources for meeting the needs of Americans without access to clean, safe water,” said Water Well Trust program 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 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. The Water Well Trust limits funding to a maximum of $11,000 per household. 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. The applicant’s household income must not exceed 100% 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.
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 is the seventh USDA grant received by the Water Well Trust since 2014. In the past six years, USDA grant monies have been used to increase potable water availability to rural households in Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Georgia, South Carolina, New Mexico, and New York. To date, the Water Well Trust has been involved in drilling or rehabilitating over 145 water wells serving 171 households, many of which were USDA HWWS projects.