News Release
Release No.STELPRD4016076
ContactTammi Schone(605) 352-1102
(APRIL 20, 2012) USDA RURAL DEVELOPMENT CELEBRATES EARTH DAY BY INVESTING IN WATER QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Earth Day
Washington, DC, Apr 20, 2012 --

@@As part of USDA’s Earth Day celebration, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced support for projects that will improve water and wastewater services and benefit the environment across the country.

“It is critical that communities across the country have reliable, clean and abundant water,” said Vilsack. “These water and wastewater projects demonstrate how USDA is helping provide critical services to rural communities that have the added benefit of protecting the environment. This Earth Day, USDA is commemorating 150 years of working with Americans to protect the land. 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 the environment for generations to come.

In all, 54 water and wastewater projects in 33 states 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 technical assistance training through the Technical Assistance and Solid Waste Management programs.

For example, in South Dakota, Fall River Water Users District received funding for construction of a new well located along Highway 79; three miles southwest of Buffalo Gap. This back-up water supply will allow the District to provide their customers with continued, uninterrupted service.

Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant, or loan/grant agreement. A complete list of water and wastewater award recipients is located here.

Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack – the President is committed to a smarter use of existing Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.

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.