WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced $35.4 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development to build and improve rural water and wastewater systems in New Mexico. The awards were funded through the USDA’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program, and will help ensure clean water for Tribal lands, colonias, and rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents in New Mexico. The funding, which includes over $25 million in low-cost loans and more than $10 million in grants, will support water infrastructure projects benefitting businesses and residents of four New Mexico communities: Shiprock in San Juan County, Garfield in Doña Ana County, East Pecos in San Miguel County, and the City of Socorro.
“Improving water and wastewater infrastructure is essential to the health and prosperity of rural communities across New Mexico. Smart investments like these will increase economic activity, ensure access to clean, reliable water and safeguard the health of tens of thousands of New Mexicans in Shiprock, Garfield, East Pecos and Socorro,” said Udall. “The USDA has been a vital resource for rural development in New Mexico, especially for colonias and Tribes, and I’m proud that we fought hard to protect the critical programs that made these improvements possible from budget cuts. As a member of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees USDA funding, I’ll keep fighting to ensure that strong investment in our rural water systems continues long into the future.”
“In New Mexico, we know that water is life. These major infrastructure investments are essential to ensuring rural and tribal communities in the state have access to clean water and waste management systems that work,” said Heinrich. “Not only do improvements in water infrastructure build a more sustainable future for generations to come, they also contribute to the overall health and economic well-being of everyone living in these communities. I will continue to work to ensure water infrastructure projects remain a priority.”
USDA Rural Development provided funding for the following four New Mexico projects:
Navajo Tribal Utility Authority in San Juan County will receive $20,795,000 in loans and $5,250,315 in grants to build a new wastewater delivery and treatment plant. The old system exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s wastewater discharge standards by releasing high rates of effluent into the San Juan River. The new facility will improve public health and help prevent future ground water contamination for approximately 8,300 residents in Shiprock, New Mexico.
Garfield Mutual Domestic Water Consumers & Mutual Sewer Workers Association in Doña Ana County will receive $610,000 in loans and a $2,051,300 Colonia Grant to fund extensive improvements to its existing water infrastructure. The upgraded water system will benefit 890 residents and 16 other users in Garfield and Salem, New Mexico.
East Pecos Mutual Domestic Water Users Association in San Miguel County will receive $1,068,000 in loans and $2,990,900 in grants to connect members of the East Pecos community, an unincorporated area in a persistent poverty county, to the wastewater system at the Village of Pecos. Currently, East Pecos residents are connected to older septic tanks, some of which fail to meet on-site wastewater regulations. The investment will fund the installation of new sewage collection lines, which will help reduce exposure to sewage and curb ground water pollution. The improvements to the East Pecos wastewater system will serve approximately 762 residents in the area.
The City of Socorro will receive $2,725,500 in loans to make necessary repairs to its wastewater system and install a dissolved oxygen control system, which will reduce sludge production and chemical usage throughout the city. The investment will serve 2,891 residents and 282 commercial users in the area.
USDA Rural Development’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program provides funding for clean drinking water systems, sanitary waste disposal systems, and stormwater drainage for rural areas with 10,000 or fewer residents, Tribal lands, and colonias.