USDA Invests in Water Quality Improvement Projects Across the U.S.

As part of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Earth Day celebration, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced support for projects that will improve water and wastewater services and benefit the environment across the country.

?It is critical that communities across the country have reliable, clean and abundant water,? said Vilsack. ?These water and wastewater projects demonstrate how USDA is helping provide critical services to rural communities that have the added benefit of protecting the environment. This Earth Day, USDA is commemorating 150 years of working with Americans to protect the land. In the years to come, we will help address the changing needs of agriculture and rural America ? and find strategies for managing our public and working lands that promote a strong middle class today while preserving the environment for generations to come.?

In all, 54 water and wastewater projects in 33 states will be funded. Earth Day is observed annually on April 22 to raise awareness about the role each person can play to protect vital natural resources and safeguard the environment. Since the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, the event has expanded to include participation by citizens and governments in more than 195 countries.

USDA Rural Development is providing more than $150.8 million to improve water quality and provide a safe and healthy environment for rural Americans. In addition, nearly $22.5 million is being invested for technical assistance training through the Technical Assistance and Solid Waste Management programs.

For example, in Maine, the city of Old Town received funding for sewer collection system upgrades which will significantly improve the collection system and reduce infiltration and inflow. The city of Old Town is a rural community located adjacent to the Penobscot River. The municipal wastewater system serves approximately 1,800 residential, 120 commercial and 15 public facilities. The project will improve water quality in the Penobscot River and provide environmental benefits to this important watershed and surrounding communities.

The city of Arcola, Texas currently has no public water system and residents use private wells for drinking water. Fort Bend County has noted that the private wells have poor water quality. In addition, the city cannot provide fire protection to their residents or commercial clients which make it difficult for properties within the city to get affordable insurance due to lack of fire prevention.

In Eaton County, Mich., the city of Potterville received funding to install a storm sewer system and to address an aging sewer infrastructure, which dates back to 1967. Through a combination of replacement and rehabilitation investments, the city is addressing significant environmental, sanitation and health concerns.
In addition to announcing new investments, the USDA is highlighting past Earth Day projects. The projects which are completed or near completion demonstrate how the department investments help improve not only the environment, but the quality of life in rural communities. Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant or loan/grant agreement.

Since taking office, President Obama’s administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council ? chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack ? the President is committed to a smarter use of existing federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

The USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, businesses and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $165 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural areas.

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