Washington, DC, Apr 27, 2011 -- Local Contact:
Dawn Knepp (717) 237-2286
Jay Fletcher (202) 690-0498
USDA Rural Development Celebrates Earth Day by Announcing Projects to Improve Water Quality and Benefit Rural Residents
WASHINGTON, April 22, 2011 – In observation of Earth Day, Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager today announced support for projects that will improve water and wastewater service and benefit the environment across the country.
“USDA invests in rural water and community facility projects that not only protect America’s natural resources but also provide a clean environment and economic opportunities for current and future generations,” Tonsager said. “USDA is especially proud of its role in helping rural communities and citizens gain access to safe and reliable drinking water, and in helping to improve environmental quality in rural areas.”
In all, 53 projects across the Nation will be highlighted. 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.
As part of today’s announcement, USDA Rural Development is providing more than $105 million to fund water and wastewater and community facilities projects.
For example, in Pennsylvania, Benezette Township in Elk County received a $1,301,000 loan and a $1,114,000 grant to install a wastewater treatment facility. Completion of the wastewater project will not only eliminate environmental and aesthetic degradation which was caused by malfunctioning on-lot sewage systems, it will also clean up two watersheds that are being affected by run-off from these systems. The two watersheds will prosper as warm and cold water fishery streams and creeks. In addition, the newly constructed Elk Country Visitor Center will connect to the system. Attendance at the visitor center is estimated to reach 160,000 annually by 2016, providing economic growth and development in the rural area.
USDA Rural Development will host events across the country to highlight newly funded projects as well as past Earth Day projects. Previously funded Earth Day projects that are completed or near completion demonstrate how USDA is helping improve the environment in rural communities. In Pennsylvania, Congressman Thompson (PA-5th), local officials and guest celebrate the Benezette Township funding with a funding announcement at the township building and a visit to the Elk Country Visitor’s Center.
Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant, or loan/grant agreement.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a network of national state and local offices. Agency programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $149 billion in loans and loan guarantees.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).