Washington, DC, Apr 22, 2013 -- As part of USDA’s Earth Day celebration, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced support for projects that will improve water and wastewater services for rural Americans and benefit the environment across the country. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
“At USDA, we believe it is critical that communities across the country have reliable, clean and safe water,” Vilsack said. “This Earth Day, I also encourage communities affected by natural disasters, including those hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, to apply for funding through the Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants Program.
In all, 43 water and wastewater projects in 32 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 $145.2 million to improve water quality and provide a safe and healthy environment for rural Americans.
For example, the Town of Stickney has been selected to receive a loan of $1,166,000 and a $634,000 grant to replace/reline the aging collection piping and install a new lift station. The finished project will keep runoff from entering the sanitary waste stream and reduce overloading of the sewage treatment ponds. This will help the town remain in compliance with EPA sewage treatment regulations and reduce overall operation costs of the sanitary sewer system.
The City of Wilmot has been selected to receive a loan of $296,000 to replace and reline the existing sewer collection system piping. Ground contamination will be eliminated and residents’ homes will be protected from sewage backups.
The City of Edgemont has been selected to receive a loan of $750,000 to assist with upgrades to the city’s wells. The new wellheads with valves will make it possible for the City to manage their water supply and blend water from the wells, which will increase the consistency of the water quality.
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.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of 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, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $700 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.