The newly formed Foundation for Affordable Drinking Water is offering a rollout of $100,000 in low-interest loans available to low- and moderate-income homeowners in Ohio for construction or improvement of household water systems.
The Foundation for Affordable Drinking Water was established to provide low-interest loans to low-income homeowners in rural areas for the construction, refurbishing and servicing of household water well systems. The loans are designed to assure cost-effective access to a safe and affordable drinking water supply to a previously underserved constituency.
The loans are capped at $8,000 per household and have a 1 percent interest rate for a term not to exceed 20 years. They are available through funding provided by the National Ground Water Association (NGWA). To qualify, Ohio households must have a combined income of no more than $43,200 for the most recent 12-month period, and they must be located in a city, town, or unincorporated area with a population of less than 10,000.
NGWA is working to secure funding from the federal government and other private sector donors to expand the program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates there are 3.6 million households in the United States that could benefit from the program.
"There are an estimated 204,000 households in Ohio alone with outmoded private water well systems that may require repair or replacement," says Paul Humes, director of the Foundation. "The National Ground Water Association established the Foundation and its loan program to aid low- and moderate- income families who find such improvements out of their financial reach. Many of these homeowners live in areas where ground water is abundant, accessible, and safe. Lack of access to affordable financing is the only barrier keeping the homeowners and their families from using and enjoying a resource that is so close at hand."
Humes likened the loans to the financing and grants the federal government provides to public water systems across the country. "Public water systems are not always the most economical choice for the federal government or taxpayers," he said. "In rural areas, a targeted program assisting low- to moderate-income households with their individual water well systems may be the most prudent expenditure of funds."
All costs directly associated with providing household water through individual, privately owned well systems will be eligible for loans. That could include the cost of drilling, pump installation/replacement, water treatment equipment, and well abandonment costs. Owners of private water wells can obtain an application by contacting the Foundation at (800) 551-7379 or by e-mailing [email protected]  .
Priority will be given to applicants with the greatest need for improvement in the quality of their household drinking water and the least financial resources for funding such improvements. Applicants who meet criteria for other types of assistance will be directed to those programs.