On Sept. 25, 2020, the Town of Mammoth was notified that it had officially received funding from the United States Department of Agriculture – Rural Development (USDA) in the amount of $7,446,789.64 for water system improvements.
This award was the result of more than three years of hard work and perseverance by the previous Town Manager, Don Jones, and Mayor Joe Dietz, plus lots of last minute scrambling over the past two months by new Interim Town Manager, John Schempf, to finalize all the paperwork before the end of the federal fiscal year.
“We are really excited about it” said Schempf. “It is the largest grant approved for a town as small as Mammoth.”
Like many small rural communities, the Town of Mammoth has had to make due with aging infrastructure that presents constant operating and maintenance challenges. The Town suffers from frequent pipeline breaks/leaks and pumping issues that lead to water outages and high repair costs. With this funding, the Town now has the resources to address the many problems with its water system by replacing/upgrading old equipment and facilities.
“I am glad to see that our little Town can finally fix the water system,” said Mayor Dietz.
Getting the USDA funding was not easy. Like all federal programs, the Town had to work through a mountain of paperwork and meet several conditions, all of which took several years to complete. One of these conditions was that the water rates in the Town of Mammoth had to be increased in order for the Town to meet the USDA funding requirements. Earlier this year the Town Council approved the new, higher rates, effective April 1, 2020. And while no one wants to pay more for their water, the residents of Mammoth can rest assured knowing that the money they pay for water is making a big difference for the entire Town.
Another condition the Town had to meet was to be designated a Colonia by the USDA. By definition, a Colonia is a community located within 150 miles of the US-Mexico border, which was in existence prior to Oct. 1, 1989, and which generally lacks an adequate system for potable water supplies, sewage systems, and/or decent, safe and sanitary housing and/or adequate roads and drainage. On Sept. 9, 2020, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution declaring the Town of Mammoth a USDA designated Colonia.
Based on having high enough water rates that meet the minimum threshold for USDA funding, and by being a designated Colonia, the USDA awarded the Town of Mammoth a total of $7.4 million dollars to improve its water system. The USDA funding package includes a $6,946,789.64 grant and a $500,000 loan. The loan terms are 1.5% interest for 40 years.
“The Town of Mammoth is very grateful for this money to fix the problems with our water system, and would like to sincerely thank the USDA and everyone who helped to make this project a reality, “ said Schempf. “We are excited about getting this project started as fast as possible so that we can begin making a difference for the people of Mammoth.”
The Town of Mammoth has begun the process of selecting an engineering firm to begin the design of the water system improvements. The entire project, from engineering through construction, is expected to take about 30 months to complete.