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Laurens County water system awarded almost $4 Million

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $18.5 Million in Funding for South Carolina Rural Infrastructure Projects Funding Will Bring High-Speed Internet, Clean Drinking Water and Modern Infrastructure to Residents in Rural South Carolina Communities

Columbia, S. C., Feb. 22, 2024 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is funding 216 projects in 45 states, Puerto Rico, and the Northern Mariana Islands to bring high-speed internet, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and economic growth to rural communities as part of President Biden's Investing in America agenda.
Four of these projects are in South Carolina.
President Biden's Investing in America agenda is transforming our country for the better – reaching communities in every corner of the United States, including those that have too often been left behind,” Secretary Vilsack said. “The investments I'm announcing today will help us build our economy from the middle out and bottom up by bringing high-speed internet, modern infrastructure and good-paying jobs to communities in rural areas, in turn making it more possible for young people to build a good life in the communities they love, and for more Americans to find new opportunity in rural communities.”
The new projects in South Carolina, totaling $18.5 million in investments, will benefit people living in remote areas of the state by providing reliable high-speed internet access, clean, safe water, and a range of support for rural families, agricultural producers, and small businesses.
“South Carolina is extremely proud to be involved in these monumental projects,” said George W. Hicks, Jr., USDA South Carolina Rural Development Acting State Director “Projec
ts like this help to bring high-speed internet, and much needed water and wastewater infrastructure for rural Americans. When USDA Rural Development partners with rural communities, we are helping to create better job opportunities to further enhance our alluring communities in South
High-Speed Internet Awards
USDA is investing in $51.7 million to expand access to high-speed internet for people in rural areas across the country through the Reconnect Program and the Broadband Technical
Assistance Program.
Under the Broadband Technical Assistance Program,
USDA is providing $9.7 million to help 24 organizations deliver or receive technical assistance to expand high-speed internet access for people in rural and Tribal communities across 17 states. This funding will also develop and expand broadband cooperatives in rural areas.
This program is made possible by President Biden’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides $65 billion to expand reliable, affordable, high-speed internet to all communities across the U.S.
Awards will benefit people living in Alaska, California, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas,
Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.
For example, in South Carolina:
W. Metts Engineering Co., Inc. is receiving $268,000 to promote the expansion of high- speed internet in the community of Norway in South Carolina and the community of
Blowing Rock in Virginia. W. Metts Engineering Co. Inc. will utilize funding to provide technical assistance for two existing Metts Eng Clients. This project will serve Distressed Energy Communities and Persistent Poverty Communities in South Carolina and Virginia.
USDA is also providing grants through the ReConnect Program
to bring high-speed internet to rural, remote, and underserved communities.
Since the beginning of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA has invested $3.7 billion in 338 ReConnect projects, financed in part by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, that will bring high-
speed internet access to more than 485,000 people in the hardest to reach communities of rural America.
ReConnect Program Round 5
In addition to today’s high-speed internet investments, Secretary Vilsack also announced that USDA will begin accepting applications on March 22, 2024 for its fifth round of funding for the ReConnect Program to connect millions of people in rural America to affordable high-speed internet.
In order to continue connecting rural families, business owners and agricultural producers to reliable, affordable high-speed internet, USDA is making several program improvements under Round 5. This will further increase the availability of funding in rural areas where residents and businesses lack access to affordable, high-speed internet.
For a full list of program improvements, and program and application requirements, visit
or see page 13036 of the Feb. 21, 2024,
Federal Register

Rural Water and Wastewater Infrastructure

USDA is also providing $18.2 million to help rural utilities provide clean drinking water and sanitary wastewater systems for people in rural areas through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to help state and local governments, private nonprofits and federally recognized Tribes build and improve rural wastewater systems. The funding enables rural communities to expand access to clean and reliable drinking water, sanitary waste disposal and stormwater drainage.

For example:

  • The Laurens County Water and Sewer Commission will use $3.9 million in funding to construct 29,500 linear feet of waterline, a new 1,000,000-gallon elevated water tank, site work and connections to the existing water system. This project will improve pressure, reliability, and resiliency for the area of the system north of Interstate 385. This project will benefit 16,000 users.
  • In Saluda County the Water and Sewer Authority will use $13.9 million in funding to provide subsequent funding for the construction of a 4 million gallons per day wastewater treatment facility. In total, Rural Development will be providing $40,032,000 in loan funding and $3,692,765 in grant funding for this project.
  • The town of Lane will use a $123,000 loan and a $279,000 grant to provide the town with subsequent funding to install 3.39 miles of water lines, fire hydrants and gate valves along Heineman Road. The proposed project will provide rural residents on the western edge of the city limits with clean drinking water. The project will benefit 32 households.

full list of projects from today’s announcement is available online.

USDA’s most recent Rural America at a Glance report, published in November 2023, signals that the Biden-Harris Administration’s investments in rural American infrastructure, jobs and overall recovery are working. Specifically, the report found that the rural population is growing after a decade of overall population loss, with growth of approximately a quarter percent from 2020 to 2022. It also showed that rural employment levels and annual growth rates have nearly returned to those seen in the years prior to the pandemic. In particular, the emergence of the clean energy economy is a growing employment sector, with clean energy jobs employing more than 243,000 workers in nonmetropolitan counties in 2021, and those jobs have continued to grow through the Biden-Harris Administration’s investments since. The rural population is also experiencing a decline in poverty. In 2021, 9.7 percent fewer nonmetropolitan counties experienced persistent poverty (county-level poverty rates of 20 percent or higher over the last 30 years) compared with a decade earlier.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety, and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal, and high-poverty areas. Visit the Rural Data Gateway to learn how and where these investments are impacting rural America.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit


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