Rural Communities Receive Funds for Water Improvement Projects - KMOT.COM - Minot, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Rural Communities Receive Funds for Water Improvement Projects

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Rapid population growth in some parts of North Dakota is putting a strain on  infrastructure. But a new series of grants and loans will help rural communities upgrade their water systems.

A lot of small, rural towns in North Dakota have had some trouble expanding because their infrastructure isn't up to date. But that will most likely change for eight areas after they get a large chunk of money from the federal government.

Water distribution in rural communities across North Dakota is not always up-to-date.

"It's gotten to be a really expensive and complicated process from a regulatory standpoint, so a lot of small towns really don't have the resources to do this," says Bismarck director of utility operations Keith Demke.

But federal money flowing into those communities soon will give water projects a big boost.

"The importance of doing water projects is that water is really our most precious resource. It not only ensures that people have access to quality, safe, reliable drinking water but it also lays the foundation for long term growth," says USDA Rural Development state director Jasper Schneider.

Seventeen million dollars of loans and grants will be divided between eight water improvement projects in rural communities across the state.

"It's always nice when we can reinvest some money back into the infrastructure because that's one of the areas that has been neglected in a lot of cases," says Demke.

Six cities will get some of that money. The rest will go to the Stutsman Rural Water District and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. In Stutsman County, they'll be building two hundred and seventy miles of pipeline. That will bring water to at least two hundred and eighty-one new people.

"There's still a lot of people in the state that don't have access to water. They're on a farm, they're on a ranch, they're using well water, and this gets them access to a real water system that provides a clean, affordable, safe water supply," says Schneider.

The rest of the recipients will be replacing old water mains and hydrants and expanding water treatment. Schneider says these projects can also help these areas to grow.

"A lot of the housing shortage issues is the fact that most communities aren't equipped to expand. Either their water infrastructure is outdated or their water treatment plant is already at capacity," says Schneider.

The cities receiving grants and loans are Hunter, Hazelton, Streeter, Linton, Rolla, and Lignite. The funding is through the U-S-D-A Rural Development's Water and Environmental Program.

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