Oct. 27, 2014 — The Water Well Trust, the only national nonprofit helping Americans get access to a clean, safe water supply, has received a $140,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Household Water Well Systems program for a project to increase potable water availability to rural households in northwest Arkansas and Oklahoma.
The Water Well Trust will contribute a 51% match towards this project, or $71,400. These funds were donated by Water Systems Council members.
The USDA grant will fund the Water Well Trust project in a high-need, low-resource rural target area composed of five counties in northwest Arkansas (Benton, Madison, Marion, Crawford and Franklin counties) and one contiguous county across the Oklahoma border (Sequoyah County).
Over the next year, the USDA grant monies will be used to drill or rehabilitate at least 19 water wells in these six counties, providing at least 145 individuals with new access to safe drinking water. The grant monies will also provide long-term, low-interest loans to applicants seeking new or improved water wells in the six-county area, many of whom have been on a waiting list maintained by the Water Well Trust since 2012.
The Water Well Trust was established by the Water Systems Council 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.
In 2012-13, the Water Well Trust completed two small water well projects using federal, state, and WWT donated funds. WWT also set up financing for the well recipients to pay back a portion of the donated funds. The proven financing capability of the Water Well Trust was instrumental in helping to meet the requirements to secure the USDA grant.
In 2014, the Water Well Trust completed its third project in Ben Hill County, GA, replacing an entire water system for a small community. Engineering estimates to replace the existing, failed water system in Ben Hill County were in excess of $600,000. The Water Well Trust replaced the system with donated WWT funds and county funds for just over $81,000 — an 86% savings.