Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2013 - (Page 28)

RURAL AMERICA at oes u a Uncle Sam has more than a dozen answers. LENOIR IS A small town in western North Carolina. It has 18,000 people, a Wal-Mart, a Waffle House and an annual parade famous for people carrying pans of blackberry cobbler. Is it a rural place? The U.S. government has an answer: Yes. No. Yes. Yes. No. No. No. Yes. No. No. No. No. No. The problem is that the U.S. government has at least 15 official definitions of the word “rural,” two of which apply only to Puerto Rico and parts of Hawaii. All of these definitions matter; they’re used by various agencies to parcel out $37 billion-plus in federal money for “rural development.” And each one is different. In one program, for instance, “rural” is defined as any place with fewer than 50,000 residents. So Lenoir is rural, and eligible for money. But in another, only towns smaller than 2,500 residents are “rural.” So Lenoir isn’t, and isn’t. And so on. There are 11 definitions of “rural” in use within the U.S. Department of Agriculture alone. “Sometimes we’re in. Sometimes we’re out,” said Lane Bailey, the city manager in 28 • Third Quarter 2013 Lenoir. “We always have to check what our definition is for different grants. ‘What are we this day?’” These varying definitions have become a baroque example of redundancy and duplication in Washington. They mean extra costs for taxpayers — and extra hassle for small-town officials — as separate offices ask them the same question in up to 15 different ways. “If you were starting from a blank slate, providing one definition would be optimal,” said Doug O’Brien, the USDA official in charge of rural development programs. But optimal is not happening. The Senate is expected to pass a bill that would pare down the list of definitions. Not down to one, however. Down to nine. Every year, there are billions available to fund projects in rural communities. Money for housing. Community centers. Sewer plants. Broadband connections. But what, exactly, is a rural area? Is there a single defi nition that could take in a Kansas wheat farm, a West Virginia coal town, a Vermont dairy and a Hawaii cattle ranch? “It’s like, if I said to you, ‘Give me a definition of love,’” said Gary Hart, the director of the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota. “You wouldn’t give me one definition. You’d give me 20.” The list has grown in the way government duplication often does: one good intention at a time. Frequently, a new set of legislators or bureaucrats has set up a program to help rural communities, and has come up with its own definition of what “rural” ought to mean. But nobody bothers to erase the other definitions already on the books. Then, repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Today, the government’s official definitions of “rural” include one written in 1936: an area with fewer than 10,000 people. That one is still used to parcel out rural telecommunications grants. Another defi nition was written in 1949: any place with fewer than 2,500 people. It is used for housingaid programs. These exist alongside other, different definitions: One sets the population limit

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2013

FROM THE PRESIDENT
KILOWATT REMINDERS
POWERING PROGRESS
PROJECTS THAT START IN RURAL AMERICA TOUCH THE LIVES OF ALL AMERICANS
WHAT DOES RURAL MEAN?
PROTECTING THE LAND
THE POWER OF AN ASSOCIATION
REGULATORY UPDATE
OLD CONSERVATION IDEA STILL IN VOGUE
THROWING MY LOOP
INDEX TO ADVERTISERS/ ADVERTISERS.COM
FROM THE CEO

Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2013

http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0418
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0318
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0218
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0118
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0417
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWA0016
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0317
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0217
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0117
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0416
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0316
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWA0015
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0216
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0116
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0415
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0315
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0215
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0115
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0414
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0314
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0214
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0114
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0413
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0313
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0213
http://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/NRWQ/NRWQ0113
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0412
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0312
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0212
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0112
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0411
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0311
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0211
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0111
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0410
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0310
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0210
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0110
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0409
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0309
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0209
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0109
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0408
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0308
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0208
http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/naylor/NRWQ0108
http://www.nxtbookMEDIA.com