The Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority and the Municipality of Hatillo are getting a combined $6.6 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve sanitary sewer system projects in rural areas, the agency announced Tuesday.
Through the assignment Puerto Rico is included among 116 projects that will improve water and wastewater services for rural Americans and benefit the environment, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said Tuesday.
“Having reliable, clean and safe water is essential for any community to thrive and grow,” Vilsack said. “I am proud that USDA helps build rural communities from the ground up by supporting water infrastructure projects like these. I am especially proud that we can help communities that are struggling economically and those that have urgent health and safety concerns due to their failing water systems.”
Today’s announcement is USDA’s largest Earth Day investment in rural water and wastewater systems, with nearly $387 million being awarded to 116 recipients in 40 states and Puerto Rico. The Department is providing $150 million in grants through the 2014 Farm Bill plus $237 million in loans and grants from USDA’s Water and Environmental Program.
The project in Hatillo consists of improving a sewer system that will also benefit its adjacent town of Camuy. The town will receive an $858,840 Farm Bill grant. Meanwhile, PRASA will use the funding to build a new sanitary sewer system in Jayuya, for which it will receive a $4,464,000 loan, and $1,349,636 in the form of a Farm Bill grant, the agency said.
“Climate change in particular is putting more stress on municipal water systems. Many areas around the country have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts, declines in snowpack, intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves,” the USDA said. “All of these are placing fiscal strains on communities — causing them to make more frequent (and often more expensive) repairs and upgrades.”