Mount Savage, MD, Apr 16, 2012 -- Thousands of residents and businesses in and around Frostburg have extra reason to celebrate Earth Day this year, thanks to the completion of a USDA-funded water distribution project. USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Cheryl Cook and Congressman Roscoe Bartlett joined USDA Rural Development Maryland State Director Jack Tarburton and other officials today to mark the completion of the Frostburg water distribution project that serves 5,300 homes and businesses. The event was held at the onset of the 42nd anniversary of the first Earth Day.
“Nothing is more critical for the development of strong communities than reliable, clean and abundant water,” said Cook. “These water quality projects that are completed, or near completion, demonstrate how USDA is helping the environment in rural communities. This Earth Day, USDA is commemorating 150 years working with Americans to protect the land. At the same time, USDA is looking to the future. We know an economy built to last will rely on the health of our natural resources.”
Cook noted that USDA is stepping up conservation with landscape scale initiatives that are delivering results and enhancing wildlife habitat and, with other federal agencies, USDA is working through the America’s Great Outdoors initiative to develop a 21st century conservation agenda and to reconnect Americans to the outdoors. In the years to come, USDA will help address the changing needs of agriculture and rural America – and find strategies for managing public and working lands that promote a strong middle class today while preserving benefits for generations to come.
Beginning today, USDA’s Rural Development staff across the country are highlighting both newly funded projects as well as past Earth Day projects.
The dedication ceremony took place atop Big Savage Mountain where the city’s hydroelectric generating station is located and began operation in December 2011. The City of Frostburg is estimating an annual savings of up to $29,000 per year as a result of electricity created from falling water that is pumped to the hydroelectric plant from Piney Dam. Construction work has also been completed on the new and larger raw water transmission mains that allow the city to pump a greater stream of water more efficiently.
Funding for the two-phase project came from multiple sources; a $922,510 low-interest USDA Rural Development loan; a $500,000 grant from Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE); a $250,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission; and a $40,000 grant from the Maryland Clean Energy Center.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business 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 affordable 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 America. In 2011, the agency provided more than $443 million to rural Maryland.
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