CASSVILLE, Mo. — The city of Cassville this week received nearly $6 million in grants and loans to assist in improving its water distribution system.

The funds come from more than $124 million that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing to help rebuild and improve rural water and wastewater infrastructure in 23 states. Cassville is one of four cities in Missouri that will receive assistance.

"Dependable access to safe, clean water as well as wastewater collection and treatment services is vital across every city in America," said Jeff Case, the USDA rural development state director for Missouri, in a Tuesday statement. "The four projects (in the state) will improve the access and infrastructure for these systems to over 2,200 rural Missourians."

The funds are provided through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program, which can be used to finance drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents, according to the USDA.

Cassville will receive a $3.936 million loan and a $1.684 million grant for its project. Improvements to the water distribution system will include replacing 63,083 feet of mains and installing new valves and controls to ultimately reduce water loss and improve low pressures.

The city's water system has 1,312 customers, according to the USDA. Other rural Missouri communities that received funds for their water systems are Forest City, Parnell and Ewing.

Eligible rural communities and water districts can still apply for funding to improve or maintain their water and wastewater systems by applying through one of Missouri's USDA program specialists or online at rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rd-apply.

"The application period for water and wastewater is a rolling application, so there is not a deadline that they have to apply by," said Lindsay Cheek, USDA public information officer for Missouri. "There is more money available now, and applications are still being accepted for it."

This fiscal year, Congress increased the level of funding for water and wastewater infrastructure by more than $3 billion from last year, according to the USDA. It jumped from $1.8 billion to $5.2 billion this year.

"This year in particular, the president (Donald Trump) has really emphasized the importance of infrastructure, and for rural America, that is a huge deal," Cheek said. "So that is why Congress has put more money than typical into that program."

A local contact

To reach Missouri's USDA Rural Development Water and Wastewater Program specialist for Jasper and surrounding counties to apply for funds, contact the Springfield office at 417-831-5246, extension 4. A complete list of area specialists for all Missouri counties can be found at rd.usda.gov.

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