The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Wednesday that it has awarded Canaan Fire District Number One $4.5 million in grants and loans to help residents in the Northern Vermont town address drinking water quality issues.
USDA Rural Development awarded the Fire District a $2.6 million grant and $1.9 million loan through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program (WEP). Funds will be used to purchase and install a 150,000 gallon water storage tank and construct a new water filtration and treatment facility, as well as upgrade the existing water distribution system serving the people of Canaan, Vt. and West Stewartstown, N.H.
"This assistance from USDA Rural Development will help some of the most rural and remote communities of Northern Vermont and Northern New Hampshire ensure their residents have clean, healthy and safe water for decades to come," said USDA Rural Development Vermont and New Hampshire State Director Ted Brady. "USDA Rural Development has not only invested in essential water infrastructure with this project, but also in the health of Canaan’s people and our region’s economy. This project will put people to work in the Kingdom."
The upgrades will eliminate the use of springs located in Canada as a source and replace them with an existing groundwater well located within the district. A new storage tank will be constructed along with a new treatment/filter facility for the removal of manganese and arsenic. Portions of the distribution system will also be replaced as part of the funded project. This winter residents of Canaan experienced multiple incidents of water discoloration and low water pressure because of current water distribution system and treatment inefficiencies.
Engineering for the improvements will be provided by Tata & Howard Engineering of St. Johnsbury. It is estimated the project will commence construction in May of 2015 with completion of summer 2016.
Canaan was able to access a portion of the $2.6 million in grant funds due to the Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) Zone designation accorded to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont – Caledonia, Essex and Orleans Counties. The designation provides five regions of the country additional grant resources through USDA Rural Development. Senator Patrick Leahy spearheaded the effort to designate the Northeast Kingdom as a REAP Zone in 2000, and led in renewing the NEK REAP Zone in the newly enacted 2014 Farm Bill.
"By improving water quality, these investments will tangibly improve the quality of life in these Vermont communities," said Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Peter Welch in a joint statement. "With the passage of the Farm Bill earlier this year, the REAP Zone program will continue to bring millions of investment dollars to the Northeast Kingdom. Partnering federal agencies and their resources with rural communities in ways like this is a catalyst for economic growth and quality of life improvements in the NEK and other rural areas."
WEP loans and grants may be made to develop, extend or improve water and wastewater systems, including solid waste disposal and storm drainage systems, in rural communities with a population of 10,000 or less.
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.
USDA, through its RD mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $197 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural areas. For more information on Rural Development visit the Vermont/New Hampshire Rural Development Website (www.rurdev.usda.gov/nh-vtHome.html) or contact USDA RD at (802) 828-6000.