blue plastic water bottles

Op-ed: How Federal Dollars Can Help Ease the Rural Water Crisis

The USDA has billions of dollars of infrastructure funding to spend. The next farm bill could end the long history of racist disinvestment in rural communities of color.

May 16, 2023 | Source: Civil Eats | by Michael Prado & Celina Mahabirmay

Everyone has heard about the water crises in cities like Flint, Michigan and Jackson, Mississippi, but America’s rural communities are facing equally dire problems with toxic taps and outdated infrastructure, and they typically have even less to spend on fixes.

That may change soon. In addition to the historic water funding included in recent infrastructure bills, the farm bill that is currently being negotiated in Congress could support real progress in small towns across the country, thanks to the billions it includes for construction of rural water and sewer systems.

We know firsthand what a huge impact those dollars can make on the ground. In California, people in an estimated 300 communities can’t drink from the tap. And two examples—the unincorporated farmworker communities of Monson and Sultana—show how federal funding can make the difference between residents having to rely on bottled water to drink, brush their teeth, and cook dinner, or having safe water from the tap.