St. Johns is a small community in Apache County, Arizona, close to the New Mexico border. Originally called El Vadito—little river crossing—St. Johns has found water to be an issue for their growth and development lately.
The city water system, nearly 40 years old, is outdated and unable to meet the demands of the community, especially during the summertime. The existing 8-inch pipes don’t have the capacity to serve the growing demand.
Today, Judy Canales, Administrator for USDA Rural Development’s Business and Cooperative Programs, joined USDA RD Arizona State Director Alan Stephens, St. Johns Mayor Fred Nielsen, City and community leaders and Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick to mark the funding of a $5,160,670 improvement project for the St. Johns water system.
The funding was a collaborative venture with funding coming from several sources. USDA Rural Development provided a $2,317,170 grant and a $1,257,000 loan. The Water Infrastructure Finance Authority also put in $1,000,000; the Environmental Protection Agency committed $481,500 and the City of St. Johns added $105,000.
Rural Development Water Program funds will be used to drill a new well with encasement, which will serve as the main source of water supply for the St. Johns community. Funds will also be used to install 14-inch pipe water lines to replace the old smaller water lines. This will meet the high water demand in the summertime and allow for future population growth.
El Vadito may be a place from the past, but now, thanks in part to the new water system, St. Johns is still a place with a future!