USDA Celebrates Earth Day with Groundbreaking 12 Years in the Making

Sarah Marquart
Release Date
Apr 22, 2015

In celebration of Earth Day today the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development joined the Planada Community Services District (CSD) and the State Water Resources Control Board to break ground on Planada's long-awaited upgrade to their wastewater treatment plant.

"Earth Day is a wonderful opportunity to highlight the impact USDA's programs can make to protect the environment and help rebuild our rural communities," said USDA Rural Development Community Programs Director Anita Lopez. "I am especially pleased to join our partners here in Planada to showcase one such example that has been a long time in the making."

The project has been under development for 12 years, and in 2013 USDA invested $4.8 million in loan and grant funding through their Water and Environmental Program.  An additional $8.5 million was provided by the State of California's Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program, and Planada CSD provided the remaining balance on the $13.5 million project.

"The persistence and tenacity of the current and past board members, employees and many others has led to funding of this much needed project for the community of Planada," said Daniel Chavez, Planada CSD General Manager.

Planada CSD has been discharging their treated wastewater into Miles Creek, but it does not meet the current surface water standards.  This project will upgrade and expand Planada's wastewater treatment facility and change how they dispose their treated wastewater.  Instead of going into Miles Creek, treated wastewater will be used to irrigate crops that are not consumed by humans, such as alfalfa. Once completed, the project will help remedy potential health and safety issues, and allow for future growth of the community.  As well, reusing treated wastewater for irrigation will help alleviate the burden on limited water supplies during the state's ongoing drought while supporting local agriculture needs.

Elsewhere today, USDA announced funding for 37 water and wastewater projects and 25 renewable energy projects totaling more than $112 million.  Today marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, which is observed annually on April 22 to raise awareness about protecting our natural resources and safeguarding the environment.  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.