The Water Well Trust, a national nonprofit helping Americans get access to safe water, has received a second $140,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Household Water Well Systems program for a project to increase potable water availability to rural households in six Georgia counties.

The Water Well Trust will contribute a $56,000 match towards the project. The funds were donated by Water Systems Council members at the 2015 WSC Fall Members' Meeting fundraising golf tournament and auction.

The USDA grant will fund Water Well Trust projects in six rural Georgia counties, including Colquitt, Hancock, Jones, Monroe, Murray and Wilcox. The USDA grant money will be used to drill at least 22 water wells in the counties.

Long-term, low-interest loans to applicants seeking new or improved water wells in the six-county area, will be provided. Eight local families have been on a waiting list since 2012.

The Water Well Trust will work with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, the Georgia USDA office and county administrators in each designated county to notify potential beneficiaries of the program.

The Water Systems Council established the Water Well Trust in 2010 to provide clean, sanitary drinking water to Americans who lack access to a reliable water supply and to construct and document small community water systems using water wells to demonstrate that the systems are more economical.

In 2014, the Water Well Trust received its first USDA grant for a project to increase potable water availability to rural households in northwest Arkansas and Oklahoma.  That grant is being used to drill or rehabilitate 19 water wells, providing over 100 individuals with new access to safe drinking water.

The Water Well Trust also completed a separate project in Ben Hill County, Ga., in 2014, replacing an entire water system for a small community.  Engineering estimates to replace the existing, failed water system in Ben Hill County were in excess of $600,000.  The Water Well Trust replaced the system with donated funds and county funds for just over $81,000 — an 86-percent savings.

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