Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week celebrated Earth Day 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,” said Vilsack. “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).
As part of Secretary Vilsack’s announcement, the city of Harrodsburg has been selected for an $8.84 million WEP loan and a $2.56 million WEP grant to replace its wastewater treatment facility. The currently facility was built in the 1970s and needs to expand to meet current and future growth. Without improvements to the plant, the city might be unable meet more stringent wastewater treatment regulations in the future.
“America’s infrastructure must be modernized if we are to continue to create jobs, expand opportunity and improve quality of life,” said Tom Fern, Kentucky State Director for Rural Development. “I commend Harrodsburg city leaders in pursuing a project to upgrade sewer service for the residents here. Rural Development is proud to work in partnership with local officials to make these much needed improvements, which will help ensure that future generations have a cleaner, safer environment in which to live.”
Also included in the announcement, was an award to the Christian County Water District for a $1.8 million WEP loan and $700,000 grant to make improvements to its water treatment plant.
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.
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.