Fruitland, MD, Apr 25, 2014 -- Contact:
Kathy Beisner, (302) 943-3818
USDA Supports Water System for Morris Mill Community
Fruitland, Md., April 25, 2014 - In recognition of Earth Day, officially observed around the globe on April 22nd, Maryland officials gathered at the City of Fruitland’s water plant to announce $2.6 million in USDA Rural Development funds to help with the extension of public water to the Morris Mill community.
“USDA celebrates Earth Day by highlighting investments in rural water and wastewater infrastructure that improves water quality and protects our environment,” said USDA Rural Development Administrator Tony Hernandez. “At USDA we are especially proud that we can help communities that have urgent health and safety concerns.”
The Wicomico County Health Department, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have combined efforts to solve a significant groundwater contamination problem first identified in August 2012. The presence of the solvent Trichloroethylene (TCE) in the groundwater affected the drinking water source for approximately 270 households in the Morris Mill community, which is currently served by private wells. An investigation by MDE and EPA found that the likely cause of the contamination was historical in nature and that there is no reason to believe that there is an ongoing source of contamination in the area. Homeowners whose wells contain TCE above acceptable levels are using carbon filtration systems and supplementing drinking water with bottled water.
Wicomico County officials have estimated that the extension of public water to the Morris Mill community will cost approximately $8 million dollars. USDA Rural Development is providing 63% of the financing needed in the form of two low interest loans and two grants. The first loan $900,000 and grant $1,500,000 was awarded in 2013. Today’s announcement of $1,100,000 loan and $1,500,000 grant will help take the project to construction. MDE is providing a grant in the amount of $3,000,000.
Earlier this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that this is USDA’s largest Earth Day investment in rural water and wastewater systems. Nearly $387 million is being awarded to 116 recipients in 40 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The Department is providing $150 million in grants through the 2014 Farm Bill plus $237 million in loans and grants from USDA’s Water and Environmental Program. Wicomico County, for the Morris Mill project, was one of five Maryland recipients to receive funding this week in recognition of Earth Day.
The other Maryland projects will improve water and wastewater systems serving residents of Greensboro, Oxford, Queenstown and Fahrney-Keedy Memorial Home located in Boonsboro.
Earth Day is observed annually on April 22nd 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 citizens and governments in more than 195 countries.
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.