Temple, Texas, Apr 18, 2012 -- As part of USDA’s Earth Day celebrations, Rural Development in Texas announced and presented funding today to local recipients for energy saving projects and improvements to water and wastewater services, both leading to overall improvements for the environment. The funding was part of Rural Development’s Community Facilities and Water/Waste Disposal Loan and Grant programs.
“Every day we face challenges to our nation’s natural resources, from climate change to environmental pollution. Earth Day reminds us of the critical role USDA Rural Development plays in confronting these challenges,” said Paco Valentin, USDA Rural Development Texas State Director. “This funding will provide the rural residents of Arcola access to safe, reliable drinking water; a basic right of all residents, and increase the security of Hempstead and its residents by providing a new, environmentally friendly, police vehicle.”
USDA Rural Development Programs Director, Michael Canales, presented over $3.5 million in funding today to the cities of Arcola and Hempstead to benefit over 7,000 rural residents. Over $3 million in Rural Development funds will be used to construct a regional water system to serve the northern part of the City of Arcola. Currently, Arcola has no public water system and residents use private wells to draw drinking water supplies. In addition, the City cannot provide adequate fire protection due to lack of a water system, and that affects fire insurance rates.
The City of Hempstead will use the $35,000 Community Facility grant presented today to purchase an alternative fuel emergency response vehicle for the police department, to replace one that has high mileage and is not energy efficient. The new vehicle will provide an increase in the safety of officers, residents and the environment.
Nationally, as part of USDA’s Earth Day celebration, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced support for projects in 33 states, including Texas, that will improve water and wastewater services and the environment.
“It is critical that communities across the country have reliable, clean and abundant water,” said Vilsack. “These projects 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.”
In all, 54 water and wastewater projects 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.
As part of today’s announcement, 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 training through the Technical Assistance and Solid Waste Management programs. More information on these and other USDA Rural Development funding opportunities can be found at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/tx/.
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 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.