The Water Well Trust, a national nonprofit helping rural Americans get access to a clean, safe water supply, has received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Decentralized Water Systems (DWS) program for water well and wastewater projects to increase potable water system availability and access to wastewater systems to rural households throughout the U.S.
The USDA grant and matching funds from the Water Systems Council will be used to fund Water Well Trust projects throughout the U.S. This is the ninth USDA grant received by the Water Well Trust since 2014.
Beneficiaries of the Water Well Trust are low-income homeowners that have wells that are no longer functioning properly, have contamination issues that render the well unusable, or have no well or safe water source. The Water Well Trust also provides funding for septic systems.
In the past eight years, USDA grant monies have been used to increase potable water availability to rural households in 38 of the 50 states. To date, the Water Well Trust has been involved in drilling or rehabilitating over 408 water wells serving 460 households, many of which were USDA projects.
The grant monies will provide long-term, low-interest loans to applicants seeking new or improved water wells and septic systems. The Water Well Trust limits funding to a maximum of $15,000 for a well and $15,000 for a septic system. 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 or sewer. The applicant’s household income must not exceed 60% 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.
Prospective applicants can determine if they qualify and start the application process by completing a submission form on the Water Well Trust website.
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 sustainable and economical. Recent studies show that there are 2 million Americans living without access to access to clean, safe, affordable drinking water. This number does not include tribal communities, where an estimated one in 10 Indigenous Americans lack access to safe water or basic sanitation.