Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack celebrated Earth Day yesterday by announcing support for projects to improve rural water and wastewater services, promote renewable energy, and promote the efficient use of energy resources.
“I am proud to announce that USDA is providing more than $112 million in loans and grants to help rural communities build and upgrade their water and energy infrastructure systems,” Vilsack said. “Not only do projects such as these help ensure communities have access to clean water and affordable energy, they also create jobs and boost the economy.”
USDA is providing the funding for water and wastewater infrastructure projects through Rural Development’s Water and Environmental Program (WEP).
In Iowa, the City of Scarville (population 72) in Winnebago County is receiving a $250,000 loan and $575,000 grant to help finance the construction of a new wastewater collection system. The new system will put the City of Scarville in compliance with requirements from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and will meet health and sanitary standards.
The City of Humeston (population 491) in Wayne County is receiving a $1,102,000 loan and $1,401,000 grant to help improve the city’s sanitary sewer system. In 2014 the City of Humeston received a $30,000 USDA Special Evaluation Assistance for Rural Communities and Households (SEARCH) grant to evaluate the sanitary sewer needs of the community. The new loan and grant funds will allow the city to make necessary improvements to the system to be in compliance with requirements from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and meet health and sanitary standards.
Vilsack noted that this year’s Earth Day celebrations also highlight the role of renewable energy systems in maintaining environmental quality. Twenty-five organizations have been selected for energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants through USDA’s popular Rural Energy for America Program. The grants support programs to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses evaluate energy efficiency systems and determine the most effective and affordable method of incorporating renewable energy technologies into their operations. Eligible recipients are government bodies, utilities and institutions of higher education.
In all, USDA is funding 37 water and wastewater projects and 25 renewable energy projects totaling more than $112 million.
View the list of recipients. Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant, or loan/grant agreement.
Earth Day is observed annually on April 22 to raise awareness about what individuals can do to protect vital natural resources and safeguard the environment. Since the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, the event has greatly expanded. Today, citizens and governments in more than 195 countries participate in Earth Day events.
USDA Rural Development’s funding continues to have a dramatic impact on rural communities across Iowa. Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has invested more than $3 billion on essential public facilities, small and emerging businesses, water and sewer systems, and housing opportunities for Iowa families.
This past year USDA Rural Development’s investment in Iowa helped create or retain more than 1,000 jobs, aided 2,600 families in buying their own homes and assisted more than 60 communities as they made improvements to their facilities, services and infrastructure.
Further information on programs available through USDA Rural Development is available by calling (515) 284-4663 or by visiting the agency’s web site at www.rurdev.usda.gov/ia.
USDA Rural Development has 11 offices across the state to serve the 1.7 million Iowans living in rural communities. Office locations include a State Office in Des Moines, along with Area Offices in Albia, Atlantic, Humboldt, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Le Mars, Mount Pleasant, Storm Lake, Tipton and Waverly.
USDA Rural Development is working with rural communities to create jobs, expand opportunity, encourage innovation and build a strong foundation for the future. The agency currently administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility loan and grant programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents and farmers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
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.