Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is providing more than $352 million in loans and grants to upgrade rural water and wastewater systems nationwide and make infrastructure improvements in rural Alaska villages. 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.
“These investments are critical for our health and safety, and in the long term for sustainable economic development,” Vilsack said. “Investments like these in the nation’s water infrastructure also are critical to address the impact of climate change on our water supplies. The projects supported with these resources will ensure rural families have access to clean water and create jobs in communities across the country.”
USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, “USDA Rural Development’s investment of $6.1 million in Maine’s rural water and wastewater systems means that thousands of residents in five Maine communities have safe, reliable drinking water and access to properly working wastewater utilities. These funds also ensure that valued Maine waterways remain clean and pristine for the people who enjoy them for recreation and fishing, and for wildlife habitat.”
In Maine, five communities will share a total of $6,139,000 in USDA Rural Development Water and Waste Loan and Grant funds:
• Town of Hartland has been selected to receive a total of $4,800,000 (Water and Waste Disposal Loan of $1,200,000 and Grant of $3,600,000). Funds will be used for upgrades including: Primary clarifiers, equalization storage, sludge dewatering equipment, sludge storage tank mixers, Disinfection system, septage receiving station, building and site improvements and collection system improvements.
• Eagle Lake Water and Sewer District has been selected to receive a total of $530,000 (Water and Waste Disposal Loan of $300,000 and Grant of $230,000). Funds will be used to replace two existing welded steel water storage tanks built in 1966 and 1978, with two reinforced concrete tanks. The existing tanks are in need of costly repairs and painting, and the new tanks will allow the facility to continue to provide drinking water and fire protection to the residents of Eagle Lake, at a lower annual maintenance cost for up to the next 75 years. Rural Development will partner with Maine DECD to provide matching funds for the replacement of these existing aging tanks.
• City of Gardiner has been selected to receive a total of $265,000 (Water and Waste Disposal Loan of $188,000 and Grant of $77,000). Funds will be used to replace a deteriorating existing sewer main in the City of Gardiner. This system will help make the current system more efficient while also protecting cherished environmental resources like the Cobbossee Stream.
• Indian Township Passamaquoddy Reservation has been selected to receive $249,400 (Water and Waste Disposal Grant) Funds will be used to replace the pump station on US Route 1. The pump station is over 30 years old and has outlived its useful life. This project will improve the operating efficiency of the system and provide environmental benefits to local water bodies which are part of the St. Croix River Watershed. USDA Rural Development will partner with Indian Health Services, which is contributing $374,600 towards this project.
• Town of Bingham has been selected to receive a total of $295,000 (Water and Waste Disposal Loan of $118,000 and Grant of $177,000). Funds will be used for essential wastewater collection system replacement and treatment system upgrades. The project involves replacing approx. 4,500 feet of old sewer lines, upgrading pumping stations and upgrades to the treatment plant.
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.
USDA is providing $175 million in loans and $165 million in grants 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 investments announced today are provided through USDA’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.
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. Of the nearly $387 million awarded for 116 Earth Day projects, 16 were in areas of persistent poverty and 29 were in communities served by USDA’s StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity.
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.
USDA Rural Development invested $462.5 million in rural Maine communities last fiscal year in the areas of homeownership, business assistance, energy and renewable energy development, water and wastewater and community facilities. The agency has Area Offices located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, and Scarborough, as well as a State Office, located in Bangor. There are 59 employees working to deliver the agency’s Housing, Business, and Community Programs, which are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, and farmers, and improve the quality of life in rural Maine. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development's web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/me.