Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Terri Sewell (AL-07)
Jun 25, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) announced today the House passage of over $718 million in federal funding she helped secure for rural water and wastewater loan and grant programs for Fiscal Year 2020. Specifically, this funding bill includes $15 million for the grant program created by Sewell’s Rural Septic Tank Access Act that passed in last year’s Farm Bill to help rural families afford decentralized wastewater systems and septic tanks.
“Every single American deserves access to basic water and sewer sanitation systems and, yet, families living in rural areas – from California, to Alabama, to West Virginia – struggle to afford necessary upgrades to their septic systems,” Sewell said. “I have been working for years to provide additional funding to replace failing septic systems and I am proud the funding the House passed today will go to work to improve the lives of Americans and Alabamians living in rural communities.”
Included in the $718 million the House approved today is $15 million specifically allocated to expand funding for the Rural Septic Tank Access Act, legislation introduced by Sewell and included in the 2018 Farm Bill to provide grants of up to $15,000 for rural low- and moderate-income households for the construction and repair of decentralized wastewater systems, including septic tanks. By expanding this program, Congress will strengthen existing federal resources to assist in the financing of wastewater systems for rural Americans not serviced by municipal wastewater treatment systems.
In addition to the $718 million in federal funding she secured today, Sewell was also successful in passing and amendment to add and remove funding from the Rural Water and Waste Disposal Program Account within USDA’s Rural Utilities Service to prioritize USDA’s ongoing efforts to address inadequate wastewater infrastructure in rural and unincorporated communities, specifically those where families or individuals have straight-pipe septic systems or failing decentralized sewage treatment systems.
Sewell has shown a years-long commitment to improving failing septic systems. Last March, she worked with House appropriators to secure $1.8 billion in additional funding for water and wastewater infrastructure. In November, USDA announced Uniontown would receive $23.4 million of that funding to repair the city’s existing wastewater treatment plant and install new infrastructure.