BISMARCK, N.D. • The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing more than $4 million in critical infrastructure that will help communities in rural North Dakota while prioritizing climate-smart solutions and environmental stewardship.

The department made the announce on Earth Day.

USDA is making the investments under the Water and Environmental Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Electric Loan Program and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program, the department said on Thursday, April 22.

“These projects highlight the commitment of Rural Development to making positive changes for our planet,” said Acting State Director Mark Wax. “We hope projects like the ones announced today ignite other rural small businesses and communities to make energy efficiency and infrastructure modernization changes and continue to reduce our human carbon footprint.”

Some investments, according to the news release, include the following:

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Rural Water and Wastewater Infrastructure

USDA is investing $374 million through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 31 states. Through its Water and Environmental Programs, USDA funds vital water infrastructure that directly benefits the health, economic vitality and environment of rural America.

In North Dakota

The city of Hillsboro will use a nearly $500,000 grant and an over $500,000 loan will be used for the installation of a 12-inch high density polyethylene pipeline. This will update the city’s water systems, many of which are from the 1960s.

The city of New Salem will use an over $1 million grant and over $1.5 million loan to replace the water main and sewer pipes. The current infrastructure is nearing the end of its service life and the new system will provide residents with a sustainable system for years to come.

The city of Beach will use over $200,000 grant and a nearly $300,000 loan to build a new water transmission main that services the city. This will increase water quality, provide adequate fire flow and decrease operation and maintenance cost.

Renewable Energy in Rural Communities:

USDA is investing $78 million in renewable energy infrastructure in 30 states through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). This program helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. Projects financed under this program can help to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that affects our climate.

In North Dakota:

Andrea Sand will use a $20,000 grant to install a geothermal heating and cooling system. This project will save the business over $5,000 per year and replace 79% of the electricity it uses each year.

Ryan Miller Farms will use a $10,000 grant to install a more energy-efficient grain drying system. This project will save the business $20,000 per year and replace 54% of the electricity it uses per year, enough to power 54 homes.

Andersen Farms will use a $20,000 grant to install a geothermal heating and cooling system. This project will save the business nearly $6,000 per year and replace 74% of the electricity it uses each year.

Rural Electric Infrastructure Upgrades

USDA also is investing $17.4 million in loans in South Dakota and New Mexico through the Electric Loan Program to build and improve rural electric infrastructure and connect residents to affordable and dependable power. The Electric Loan Program brings efficient, modern electric infrastructure to rural communities and finances wind, solar, natural gas and clean energy production. The program also provides loans to electric utilities to support vegetation management, which helps prevent forest fires.

For example, in South Dakota, Charles Mix Electric will use an $8.6 million loan to build 84 miles of electric line and construct a headquarters facility. Charles Mix Electric serves approximately 2,500 rural consumers over 1,310 miles of line.