|USDA OFFICIAL PARTICIPATES IN GRAND OPENING CEREMONY OF THE BLACK RIVER FALLS HYDROELECTRIC DAM|
|Black River Falls, WI, Jun 15, 2012
Kelly Edwards, Public Information Coordinator
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USDA Official Participates in Grand Opening Ceremony of the
Black River Falls Hydroelectric Dam
BLACK RIVER FALLS, WI – JUNE 15, 2012 - - - U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director, Stan Gruszynski, joined Black River Falls community members; city, state and federal officials; and project leaders for the dedication and ribbon cutting of the newly upgraded Black River Falls Hydroelectric Dam today.
The Black River Falls Dam is back in service following a more than five-year replacement project. The effort, which began in 2006, entailed completing feasibility studies, securing regulatory approvals, demolition, reconstruction, and installation of an additional, low-flow hydroelectric generating unit. The 100-plus year-old municipally-owned facility was taken offline for replacement in 2010 and was recently returned to service.
The $ 9.5 million project was made possible, in part, due to a $5 million USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Loan through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“Not only will Black River Falls have improved electrical capacity and a more modern facility, today's ribbon cutting sends the message that leaders of this community have an eye on the future. Improvements to the infrastructure mean economic expansion, business growth and a more vibrant community,” said Gruszynski. “The mission of USDA Rural Development is to support viable and economically sustainable rural communities. I am pleased Community Facilities Program dollars have contributed to where we stand today and I believe the Administration and members of Congress that supported the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act deserve credit as well.”
This is the Nation’s first hydroelectric dam project funded with the assistance of USDA Rural Development.
The Black River Falls Dam facility now features six spillway bays, each with gates measuring 14’ by 27’. The East Powerhouse, which stands more than six stories tall, required the excavation of more than 2,525 cubic yards of rock excavation. The project was constructed using more than 14 million pounds of steel-reinforced concrete. The three new generating units have a combined generating capacity of about 1.5 megawatts and will supply approximately 12 percent of the community’s annual electric energy needs.
Mayor Ron Danielson noted that the historic structure provides important functions for the City of Black River Falls and the surrounding community. “First is flood control,” said Danielson. “After the flood of 1911 our forefathers decided a better dam structure was needed to protect the city from further destruction, so they built an eight-gate dam. As that aging structure developed flaws, it was very important that we took steps to replace this important facility to ensure our community’s well-being for the future.”
USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Programs provide essential community facilities for rural communities. Recipients of this funding may build facilities and purchase equipment for fire and rescue, early warning systems, police stations, health clinics, schools, libraries, hospitals, etc.
During the past year, USDA Rural Development helped a record number of Wisconsinites receive funding for economic development projects and quality of life improvements. The agency’s investment in Wisconsin helped create or retain more than 2,000 jobs; aided 2,900 families in buying their own homes; and assisted more than 200 communities in improving community facilities and upgrading local infrastructure.
This year, USDA is commemorating the 150th anniversary founding of the “Peoples Department.” In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act of Congress establishing the United States Department of Agriculture. Since then, USDA has helped support the tremendous growth and success of American agriculture, drive economic growth, conserved natural resources and build stronger communities and a stronger nation. As we celebrate 150 years of accomplishments, USDA is looking to the future as we continue to help address the changing needs of agriculture and rural America.
Last year, USDA Rural Development has invested over $558 million throughout rural Wisconsin to improve rural housing, infrastructure, community facilities, businesses and renewable energy. To learn more about Rural Development, visit our website at www.rurdev.usda.gov/wi.
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