The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Household Water Well Systems (HWWS) program has awarded the Water Well Trust a grant of $1 million for projects to increase potable water availability to rural households throughout the U.S.

“This new grant will provide fantastic new resources for meeting the needs of Americans without access to clean, safe water,” says Margaret Martens, the trust’s program director. “The trust has a long waiting list of families who have been hanging on for years, hoping for this kind of help. For them, every day without water is a struggle. This grant will help us fulfill the promise of a better life for these American families much more quickly.”

The USDA grant and matching funds from the Water Systems Council will fund more than 80 Water Well Trust projects throughout the U.S. The trust can now operate nationwide, after earlier USDA grants targeted specific states through the trust’s water well program.

The grant monies will provide long-term, low-interest loans to applicants seeking new or improved water wells. The Water Well Trust limits funding to a maximum of $11,000 per household. Loans have an interest rate of 1% with terms of up to 20 years. 

To qualify for a WWT loan, applicants must be the owner and occupant of the home as their primary residence, and must not have access to a public water supply. Household income must not exceed 100% of the median non-metropolitan household income for the state in which the applicant resides. The income criteria apply to both the applicant and all other occupants of the home. 

According to the latest American Community Survey, 460,000 households — or about 1.5 million Americans — live without access to clean, safe, affordable drinking water. 

This is the seventh USDA grant received by the Water Well Trust since 2014. In the past six years, USDA grant monies increase potable water availability to rural households in Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Georgia, South Carolina, New Mexico and New York. The Water Well Trust has been involved in drilling or rehabilitating over 145 water wells serving 171 households, many of which were USDA HWWS projects.

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 these systems are more economical. For more information, visit