Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants

Through the Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant Program, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is authorized to help rural residents who have experienced a significant decline in quantity or quality of water to obtain adequate quantities of water that meet the standards of the Safe Drinking Water
Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

Rural communities can use these funds to correct drinking water problems that have been created by a significant decline in quantity or quality of their water supply.

The communities use the funds for new systems, waterline extensions, construction of water sources and treatment facilities, storage tanks, and repairs or renovation of existing systems.

Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Office - Consult your local telephone directory under United States Government, Department of Agriculture for Rural Development District Office number.

If no listing, contact appropriate Rural Development State office listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Program Accomplishments

In fiscal year 2005, 36 grants were awarded. In fiscal year 2006, 21 grants were awarded, and in fiscal year 2007, 24 grants were made. In fiscal year 2008 it is estimated that 30 grants will be made.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Grant funds may be used to extend waterlines on existing systems; to construct new water lines; to repair existing systems; to perform significant maintenance on existing systems; to construct new wells, reservoirs, transmission lines,treatment plants, storage tanks, etc.; to replace equipment; to provide connection and/or tap fees; to pay costs incurred within six months of the date an application was filed with USDA to correct an emergency situation that would have been eligible for funding under this program; to provide funds for any other appropriate related purposes, such as, legal fees; engineering fees; recording costs; environmental impact analyses; archaeological surveys; possible salvage or other mitigation measures; planning, establishing, or acquiring rights associated with developing sources of treating, storing, or distributing water; and to assist rural water systems in complying with the requirements of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act or the Safe Drinking Water Act, when failure to comply is directly related to a recent decline in quality of potable water.

Grants provided under this program shall not be used to assist a rural area or community with a population in excess of 10,000; to assist a rural area that has a median household income in excess of the statewide nonmetropolitan median household income according to the most recent decennial census of the U.S.; to finance facilities which are not modest in size, design, and cost; to pay loan or grant finder's fees; to pay any annual recurring costs considered to be operational expenses; to pay rental for the use of equipment or machinery owned by the rural community; to purchase existing systems; to refinance existing indebtedness; and to make reimbursement for projects developed with other grant funds.

Grants made to alleviate a significant decline in quantity or quality of water available from the water supplies in rural areas that occurred within two years of filing an application with USDA cannot exceed $500,000.

Grants for repairs, partial replacement, or significant maintenance on an established system cannot exceed $150,000.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Rural Development Utilities Programs may make grants to public bodies, private nonprofit corporations, and political subdivisions of a State, as well as Indian tribes.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Public bodies, private nonprofit corporations, and political subdivisions of a State, as well as Indian tribes.


Costs will be determined in accordance with OMB Circular No. A-87 for State and local governments and OMB Circular No. A-122 for nonprofit organizations.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

This program is eligible for coverage under E.O.

12372, "Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs." An applicant should consult the office or official designated as the single point of contact in his or her State for more information on the process the State requires to be followed in applying for assistance, if the State has selected the program for review.

An environmental impact assessment is required for this program.

The standard application forms as furnished by the Federal agency and required by 7 CFR Parts 3015 and 3016 must be used for this program.

Application Procedures

Rural Development (RD) State Director will administer the program on the local level. This program is subject to the provisions of 7 CFR Parts 3015 and 3016. Application Form SF-424 will be filed with the appropriate RD District office.

Award Procedures

Applications received will be reviewed and scored for funding priority by the RD State office. The RD State Director will request funds from the National office. Projects must compete on a national basis for available funds.


All funding requests will be reviewed by the National office after November 1 of each year and continue until June 30 of each year.


Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act, Section 306A; Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990, Title XXIII, Public Law 101-624.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

Within 60 days of receipt of complete application.


If an application is rejected, the reasons for rejection are fully stated. The applicant may request a review of this decision at the higher management level of RUS.


Not applicable.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Not applicable.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Not applicable.

Post Assistance Requirements


Request for funds, as needed.


In accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular No. A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Nonprofit Organizations," nonfederal entities that expend financial assistance of $500,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Nonfederal entities that expend less than $500,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in Circular No. A-133.


The grantee shall maintain adequate records and accounts to assure that grant funds are used for authorized purposes.

Financial Information

Account Identification



((Grants) FY 07 $6,959,192; FY 08 est $7,000,000; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

123 Range and Average of Financial Assistance: $4,100 to $500,000. Average: $297,000.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

7 CFR Part 1778.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Consult your local telephone directory under United States Government, Department of Agriculture for Rural Development District Office number. If no listing, contact appropriate Rural Development State office listed in Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Headquarters Office

Assistant Administrator, Water and Environmental Programs, Rural Utilities Service, Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC 20250. Telephone: (202) 690-2670. FTS is not available.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

The proposed projects designed to serve a rural area with a population of 5,000 or less that has a median household income of not more than 70 percent of the statewide nonmetropolitan household income and had a significant decline in quantity of water available from private individually owned wells will be given priority. Preference also will be given to proposed projects that will assist an established water system or remedy an acute shortage of quality water. The Rural Development State Director will rate applications on a point system and points received will be considered in selecting projects for funding.

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