By Craig Monger

A few rural areas in northwest Alabama can look forward to a large advancement to their local water infrastructure. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it is granting $1.8 million for the modernization of drinking water and wastewater infrastructure for two Alabama communities.

According to Secretary Tom Vilsack of the USDA, the city of Tuscumbia and the county of Lauderdale both received loans to expand their perspective infrastructures. This funding is provided by the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program, a program that gives long-term, low-interest loans to rural counties and municipalities. The funding can be used to improve or provide safe drinking water systems, as well as sewage and waste disposal.

The city of Tuscumbia will receive a loan for $217,000 to expand its sewer system.

In Lauderdale County, the Chisholm Heights Water and Fire Protection Authority will receive a loan for $1.1 million, and a grant for $584,000. This will allow the authority to make several upgrades to the water system.

This news comes after Gov. Kay Ivey gave several announcements about further waterway developments across the state. Ivey and The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs announced that it would be giving out grants to the town of Woodstock and the city of Falkville. Both received funds through the Appalachian Regional Commission to improve their wastewater and sewage infrastructure.

ARC is a federal program that was established in 1965 to improve and upgrade the infrastructure in rural areas of the 13 Appalachian states. Alabama has 37 counties that are considered within the ARC scope.

There have been no updates on when construction will begin on any of these projects, but Ivey has expressed her pleasure with the progress being made.

“The Appalachian Region Commission has been a true partner in helping local governments address problems and improve the lives of their residents,” Ivey said. “Alabama is fortunate to be a part of this agency that has served our cities, counties and regions for more than 50 years. I am pleased to support this project.”

Ivey also announced Friday that over $41 million will go towards 17 projects thanks to the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 (GOMESA). The projects in several south Alabama counties will focus on water quality, sewer infrastructure, land acquisitions, research and recreational access improvements.

Those projects will be in Mobile County, the city of Mobile, Spanish Fort, Baldwin County, Daphne, Dauphin Island, Foley, Fairhope, Bayou la Batre, Loxley, and along coastal waterways.