Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is providing more than $16.5 million in loans and grants to upgrade rural water and wastewater systems in rural Oregon.
“These investments are critical for our health and safety, and in the long term for sustainable economic development,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker.
In all, USDA is providing $175 million in loans and $165 million in grants nationwide through the Water and Environmental Program. This is part of more than $1.5 billion USDA invested in rural water and wastewater projects during the 2014 Fiscal Year, which ended September 30. The projects funded will not only help ensure rural places have access to clean water, but will also create jobs and help communities retain and attract new businesses and families.
With the current announcement, the City of Vernonia in Columbia County will receive a $5.57 million loan and a grant of $2.23 million to improve the city’s wastewater system. The USDA funds will be used to raise the city’s wastewater lagoons above the 2007 high water mark, which exceeds the 100-year flood level, and upgrade the discharge piping to prevent future effluent discharges into the Nehalem River. The new funding package will also refinance a portion of Vernonia’s existing wastewater debt from a 20-year to a 40-year loan, reducing sewer rates for residents.
The Crooked River Ranch Water Company in Terrebonne, Oregon, will receive a $4.3 million loan and a $1.5 million grant to upgrade and add capacity to their water system. Improvements will ensure water availability and pressure for fire fighters.
Island City in Union County will receive a $2.87 million loan to construct a new water reservoir and make improvements to the pump station and distribution lines.
The investments announced today are provided through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS), which also administers infrastructure programs that fund broadband and rural electric systems to meet the needs of rural communities. View the complete list of recipients and projects receiving funding under today’s announcement.
Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has invested nearly $11 billion in new and improved water and wastewater infrastructure that has benefited nearly 15 million rural residents and almost 6 million households and businesses.
In April, USDA allocated $150 million in Farm Bill grants plus $237 million in Rural Development funds for the Department’s largest Earth Day investment in rural water and wastewater systems. Among the nearly $387 million awarded for 116 Earth Day projects, was a loan of $1.57 million and a Farm Bill funded grant of $2.8 million to the City of Powers, Oregon, to address critical water quality concerns from an obsolete wastewater system. This Farm Bill funding was preceded by made by a $672,000 loan and a grant of $4.27 million from USDA Rural Development in 2013 to begin work on a low-pressure collection system, a new outfall, and a sludge treatment facility. This USDA significant investment in the City of Powers will improve water quality for the local community, allow for future growth, and improve conditions for declining species of native fish, including shad and Chinook salmon, in the Coquille River.
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.