Small rural water systems lack access to funding.
Rural Community Assistance Corporation provides assistance to apply for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant funds.
San Simon Drinking Water Improvement District (DWID) is a small, unincorporated community in Cochise County located near the eastern border of Arizona and New Mexico. San Simon is a designated Colonia with approximately 200 people and 110 active service connections. Before the 1950s, residents living in San Simon maintained individual wells and, in some cases, neighbors shared a well.
Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) initially reached out to San Simon DWID at the start of the global pandemic in March 2020, when the district expressed concerns about high levels of fluoride in its drinking water source. RCAC learned that the district had been struggling for over a decade with an outstanding administrative compliance order issued by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) for exceeding the fluoride Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL). During initial meetings San Simon shared a draft 2019 Preliminary Engineering Report (PER) that recommended reverse osmosis as the preferred treatment to return to compliant and safe drinking water levels.
After reviewing the PER, RCAC learned that the new treatment facility may be 100 percent funded by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development grants. RCAC organized meetings with San Simon, ADEQ, USDA, Water Infrastructure Fund of Arizona (WIFA), and the district’s consulting engineers to facilitate discussions to get the project moving forward.
After organizing multiple meetings with stakeholders, RCAC presented a financial analysis with a proposed rate increase to help the district cover the cost of O&M once the new treatment facility is placed into service.
USDA, ADEQ, the consulting engineers and RCAC have assisted San Simon DWID apply for and secure a $250,000 forgivable loan from WIFA for project design and a USDA application for the approximate $1.1 million needed for the project construction.
RCAC will continue to support San Simon through the USDA application process and as needed to help restore safe drinking water to the community.