Big Bend Water Authority officials today celebrated completion of the $3.6 million wastewater expansion and collection system project. Attending the dedication ceremony were USDA Rural Development officials, elected and community leaders and members of the community.
Big Bend Water Authority received a $2,451,860 grant and an $875,000 loan from Rural Development as well as a $250,000 grant from the Suwannee River Water Management District for construction of the centralized wastewater collection and treatment facility. The system will serve residences and businesses located in Florida’s Big Bend area of pine forests, rivers, salt marshes, bays and springs. The Big Bend Water Authority has operated a small package sewer plant serving 100 users that was constructed over 20 years ago. The remainder of the residences and businesses in the area are on septic systems, including 29 systems located within 50 feet of the Steinhatchee River, which flows through the area before entering the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding salt water marshes.
“A reliable wastewater system is not only a public health and sanitation concern, it is vital to the environment in which we all live,” said Rural Development State Director Richard A. Machek. “It is critical for our health and safety, and in the long term for sustainable economic development,”
Initial users will consist of 326 connections including 311 residences and 15 commercial establishments located primarily along the Steinhatchee River. This will help eliminate ground and surface water contamination from sewage that has not been properly treated and will help restore water quality in the Steinhatchee River and surrounding bodies of water.
Water and Environmental Programs provides loans, grants, and loan guarantees for drinking water, sanitary sewer, solid waste and storm drainage facilities in rural areas, cities and towns with populations of 10,000 or less. Public bodies, non-profit organizations and recognized Indian tribes may qualify for assistance. WEP also makes grants to nonprofit organizations to provide technical assistance with their water, wastewater, and solid waste problems.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and President Obama’s historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his 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.