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USDA invests $9.6M in S.C. water and wastewater infrastructure

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Marion's water treatment plant is set to get an upgrade along with other water and sewer infrastructure in the county and Abbeville County's Calhoun Falls. (Photo/Canva)Calhoun Falls and Marion County’s MARCO Rural Water Co. Inc. will receive $9.6 million in loans and grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of a $307 million investment in water and wastewater infrastructure across 34 states and Puerto Rico.

The investment follows President Joe Biden’s announcement last week of a bipartisan infrastructure framework featuring the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history, according to a news release.

The initiative will replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines, helping address barriers faced by rural residents and minority communities.

“Every community needs safe, reliable and modern water and wastewater systems,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in the release. “The consequences of decades of disinvestment in physical infrastructure have fallen most heavily on communities of color. This is why USDA is investing in water infrastructure in rural and tribal communities that need it most to help them build back better, stronger and more equitably than ever before.”

USDA is financing the projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program, expected to help improve rural infrastructure for 250,000 residents and businesses.

The town of Calhoun Falls, located in Abbeville County, will receive $4.6 million to upgrade the existing water system with new meters, pipes, hydrants and connecting lines.

According to the release, Calhoun Falls has an aging infrastructure resulting in extensive water revenue loss in the system and excessive maintenance burden due to water distribution system leaks and breaks. The investment will also be used to upgrade the city’s sewer system, including replacement of floating aerators and a new solar power generation system.

Marion County’s MARCO Rural Water Co. will receive a $4.9 million investment that will go toward a new backup elevated water storage tank, supply well and treatment facility. New water lines will also be installed as part of the project.

“Projects like these are essential and will have a significant impact to rural communities for years to come,” Marty Bright-Rivera, acting state director for South Carolina USDA Rural Development, said in the news release.

Reach Molly Hulsey at 864-720-1223.

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