Editorial — Water grants can’t be cut without replacement

The president’s proposed 2018 federal budget, as it stands today, would eliminate all USDA water and wastewater loan and grant programs — slashing $498 million from federal spending. And that sounds great on the surface. We all would like to see the government become a little more thrifty with its spending.

However, it is important to note that Delaware has benefitted from these programs to the tune of 44 projects, worth $131.2 million, including $70 million in Sussex County. In fact, let’s break that down a little bit more to our community.

Selbyville was facing a serious problem last May. The Town was building a new water-treatment facility, and would have had to repay a $2.7 million state grant if they failed to complete the project on time, and the Town did not have the money. They received a $500,000 USDA Rural Development grant that ultimately saved the day, and kept Selbyville out of potential financial ruin.

More importantly than the fidicuiary impact on the Town, the project could be finished — and Selbyville residents would not have to continue to drink gasoline additives in their water, a reality that formed when gasoline additive MTBE seeped into the town’s water supply.

“There was no way Selbyville could have done anything with this water without help,” said Selbyville Mayor Clifton Murray. “Our town deserves it. All towns do. Good, solid drinking water...”

There is plenty of fat to trim in the federal budget without sacrificing our ability to have clean water. We ask that this gets serious review.