ANCHORAGE, Alaska — USDA will provide more than $352 million in loans and grants to upgrade water and wastewater systems around the country and make infrastructure improvements in rural Alaska villages, according to a press release.

USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted that climate change is putting more stress on municipal water systems with many areas in the U.S. seeing changes in rainfall, often resulting in more floods, droughts and other costly environmental impacts, stated the release.

The release reported that USDA Rural Development has invested approximately $11 billion in new and improved water and wastewater infrastructure since 2009, benefiting around 15 million residents in rural areas and almost six million homes and businesses.

“These investments are critical for our health and safety and in the long term for sustainable economic development,” said Vilsack. “Investments like these in the [U.S.] water infrastructure also are critical to address the impact of climate change on our water supplies. The projects supported with these resources will ensure rural families have access to clean water and create jobs in communities across the country.”

Read the entire release here.