Carrollton, IL, Apr 21, 2011 -- Contact: Joan Messina (217) 403-6248
Cell: (217) 871-3702
USDA Celebrates Earth Day with Greene County Rural Water District Funding Announcement
Carrollton, Ill., April 22, 2011—USDA Rural Development and the Greene County Rural Water District (GCRWD) celebrated Earth Day on April 22 with good news for rural residents in northeast Greene County. At the event in Carrollton, Rural Development State Director Colleen Callahan announced that the agency was providing a grant and loan totaling $2.614 million to extend GCRWD’s water distribution system with about 60 miles of new water main.
“USDA Rural Development is joining GCRWD on Earth Day to call attention to how we can work together to address our natural resource challenges and ensure that future generations inherit a healthy world,” Callahan said. “We want to make sure that this area has a clean and abundant water supply that supports quality of life and economic opportunity long into the future.”
Greene County Water District was formed about 13 years ago to bring safe water to all the rural areas of Greene County. This is the fifth phase of what they expect to be a seven phase effort. They currently serve more than 900 rural farms and homes in Greene County, and will add at least another 90 users to their water distribution system with the completion of this phase. To date, Rural Development has invested $12.4 million, nearly half of it in grants, in GCRWD’s distribution system.
Well sampling by the Greene County Health Department showed that more than half of the wells tested were unsafe for human consumption in the new service area. Currently these rural residents get their water from either shallow dug or drilled wells, ponds or lakes, rain water collected in cisterns or by hauling water—a process that is not uncommon during extended dry periods.
“Projects of this scope don’t happen without partnerships,” Callahan said, “and Greene County has demonstrated how valuable these partnerships are.”
Not only has the water district worked with Rural Development, the engineers at Heneghan and Associates and attorneys from Strang & Parish on the development and expansion of the distribution system, they have worked with surrounding communities and FFA. GCRWD has agreements with a number of Greene County communities for the purchase and sale of water as well as backup water interconnections. The collaboration makes it feasible for county residents to have affordable and reliable safe water.
FFA Greenfield Chapter President Ali Thornton told people gathered at GCRWD headquarters in Carrollton how FFA members had volunteered to collect water samples to test for contaminants for past phases. She also talked about the benefits she and her family have enjoyed since being connected to the GCRWD system.
Frank Costello, who has been a member of the district’s board since it was formed, talked about the changes he has seen in the county since rural water was made available. Callahan presented him with a plaque honoring him for his selfless efforts and hundreds of hours of service to bring safe water to rural Greene County.
Rural Development has more than 40 programs that foster growth and economic stability in rural areas by providing affordable financing and technical assistance. Support is available for regional food systems, broadband and biofuel infrastructure, homeownership, business development and community needs. More information on USDA Rural Development programs is available on the web at www.rurdev.usda.gov/il. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.