Jonesborough, TN, 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.
"At USDA, we believe it is critical that communities across the country have reliable, clean and safe water," Vilsack said.
Locally, USDA Rural Development (RD) State Director Bobby Goode announced federal funding for two water projects in Northeast Tennessee. The town of Jonesborough in Washington County and the Old Knoxville Highway Water District in Greene County will receive more than $6.2 million in affordable loan and grant financing from the agency.
"Safe, reliable water is vital to the future of every healthy community," said Goode. "Making these infrastructure investments puts people to work now and it lays the foundation for improved safety and sustainable growth in this area through the next generation."
In Jonesborough, improvements will expand the town's capacity to meet the need of business and residential customers for the next 20 years of projected growth. A low-interest loan of $2,210,000 and grant of $815,600 will be used to construct a wastewater pipe from the existing treatment plant. The$4,525,600 total investment includes $1,000,000 from the EDA and a $500,000 Community Development and Block Grant from the state. The work will allow the district to meet state and regulatory requirements and provide the capability of managing waste treatment for the foreseeable future.
Also announced was financing for the Old Knoxville Highway Water District in Mohawk that received funding for water distribution system extensions. A low-interest loan of $3,258,000 will fund the addition of 40,000 linear-feet of 16-inch water line from the existing system along Pruitt Road. The extension will serve the site planned for the new nitrogen plant and provide capacity for future business growth in the area.
In all, Vilsack announced 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 announcements, USDA Rural Development is providing more than $145.2 million to improve water quality and provide a safe and healthy environment for rural Americans.
Rural Development community programs finance construction or improvements to essential services like reliable access to clean water, wastewater treatment, healthcare, education, job training and first responder facilities. Loan-guarantees encourage private lenders to expand the availability of affordable financing in rural communities. Direct loans and grants create sound financial opportunities for local governments to meet essential infrastructure needs.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, community development, homeownership and affordable rental housing to improve the economic health of rural communities. During the last four years the agency has assisted more than 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 158 communities, investing more than $3.3 Billion into local economies through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.
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.
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.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in Northeast Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office in Greeneville at 423-638-4771 ext. 4, toll free at (800) 342-3149 ext. 1490 or visit us online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.