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Biden-Harris Administration Announces Nearly $3.5 Million to Strengthen Rural Infrastructure in Maine

Leigh Hallett
Release Date

Investment replaces aging water infrastructure in two scenic Maine towns--

Public health and environment protected

Bangor, Aug. 28, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Maine State Director Rhiannon Hampson announced the Biden-Harris administration is investing $3.495M to help provide clean drinking water and sanitary wastewater systems in the towns of Milo (Piscataquis County) and Bethel (Oxford County) Maine. More than 3100 rural residents will benefit.

The funding announced today advances President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, focused on rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure and making communities more resilient. The awards are through USDA Rural Development’s Water and Waste Disposal Grant and Loan Program. These investments support Maine’s economy by ensuring rural communities are attractive, economically viable, and safe places to live and work.

“Mainers love the outdoors – and that goes beyond enjoying a good hike, a good hunt, and a quiet day on the river. It speaks to what we collectively value. By putting federal money to work improving critical infrastructure, and supporting a healthy environment, the Biden-Harris Administration is joining us in proudly affirming that rural Maine values matter – and so does our way of life.” State Director Hampson said, “Mainers deserve to enjoy livable communities, access to modern and safe water and waste systems, and a clean environment. At USDA Rural Development we are proud to be a part of making that happen for our neighbors.”

The Town of Bethel will receive a grant of $1.2M and a $2.2M loan to make improvements to its wastewater treatment system. Located near the White Mountains in western Maine, Bethel is known for its outdoor recreation and natural environment. This investment will be used to upgrade deteriorating sewer lines and the town’s wastewater treatment facility. The upgrades will reduce potential health hazards and develop a more efficient, sustainable system. Improving wastewater treatment will also help prevent pollution in the Androscoggin Valley. Town officials expect the project to begin in 2024.

The second Maine infrastructure investment announced this week is a $95,000 grant for the Milo Water District, concluding a multi-year project. Rural Development staff began working with the town in 2020, awarding the Water District a $1.2M grant and a $1.2M loan to upgrade its wastewater treatment system and reduce health risks. Crews replaced old clay sewer lines and brick and fieldstone manholes with modern materials. Upgrades to the pumping station alleviated overflows of partially treated wastewater which had been a problem in the past. Now Milo residents enjoy a safer, more reliable system that is efficient for Water District staff to maintain. This investment also protects the Piscataquis River from potential wastewater pollution.

The Maine grants are announced as part of a group of 139 investments nationwide that will help people living in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Puerto Rico and the Marshall Islands.

USDA is making the investments through the Electric Loan Program, Water and Waste Disposal Direct Loan and Grant Program, Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees Program, Water and Waste Facility Loans and Grants to Alleviate Health Risks for Colonias Program, Solid Waste Management Grants Program, Community Facilities Program, Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program and Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program.

Today’s announcement further advances the groundbreaking Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan with $78 million in new awards for lead pipe remediation. With up to 10 million American households connecting to water through lead pipes and service lines, the Administration is working aggressively to replace all lead service lines in America in the next decade. USDA is partnering with communities to address this challenge through its various programs.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

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