Albuquerque, NM, Apr 16, 2012 -- About 3,600 residents of Pueblo Laguna, New Mexico celebrated Earth Day early this year by marking the planned replacement of decades-old substandard water and septic systems with a new, modern system to improve water quality, public health and sanitation. USDA Rural Development is funding the project in phases in with the State and other partners. Among those in attendance at a groundbreaking event for phase 1 were USDA Rural Utilities Administrator Jonathan Adelstein and Rural Development New Mexico State Director Terry Brunner.
“This Earth Day reminds us that many New Mexicans have faced many water quality crises and shortages, particularly among the Pueblos and Hispanic communities,” said Adelstein. “Sus problemas son nuestros problemas and we -- the people of this community and the Obama Administration -- are working in partnership to fix them. 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. 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 benefits for future generations.”
“This project demonstrates that the spirit of Earth Day is alive and well,” said Brunner. “The Pueblo of Laguna mapped a more sustainable future by building a new drinking water system that will protect their groundwater while delivering clean drinking water to residents."
Brunner said the existing sewer collection system and water distribution systems are overdue for replacement. The wastewater system lagoons are not secured by fencing and individual septic systems are a cause of additional health hazards in the community. The improvements to the sewer system will ensure sanitary wastewater disposal through the community reducing human and environmental health risks. Also, several water wells need to be repaired and water storage tanks are in need of replacement.
USDA Rural Development is providing more than $26.6 million in financial support for the first phase of construction. The other phases of construction will see Rural Development providing almost $9 million which will be used in conjunction with funds coming from the Pueblo of Laguna and other agencies including the state of New Mexico. The additional funding includes $23-million in New Markets Tax Credits allocation from the New Mexico Finance Authority and Finance New Mexico.
USDA Rural Development’s mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development fosters growth in homeownership, finances business development, and supports the creation of critical community and technology infrastructure. Further information on rural programs is available at any local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development’s web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov
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