Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday celebrated Earth Day by announcing record support for 116 projects that will improve water and wastewater services for rural Americans and benefit the environment. A manufactured home park in Hinsdale, Oak Hill Acres Cooperative, with failing water and wastewater systems will receive a $410,000 grant and $390,000 loan to ensure the residents have clean water and working sewers.
"Having reliable, clean and safe water is essential for any community to thrive and grow," Vilsack said. "I am proud that USDA helps build rural communities from the ground up by supporting water and wastewater infrastructure projects like these. I’m especially proud that we can help communities that are struggling economically and those that have urgent health and safety concerns due to their failing or inadequate utility systems."
Today’s announcement is USDA’s largest Earth Day investment in rural water and wastewater systems. Nearly $387 million is being awarded to 116 recipients in 40 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The Department is providing $150 million in grants through the 2014 Farm Bill plus $237 million in loans and grants from USDA Rural Development’s Water and Environmental Program.
Oak Hill Acres Cooperative will use the $800,000 to replace deteriorating water lines and septic systems in their cooperatively owned manufactured home community. The improved utilities will allow the cooperative to fill 13 vacant units, improving their financial stability. The Oak Hill Acres Cooperative benefited from a partnership between USDA Rural Development and the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund ROC USA program which helps manufactured home communities at risk of closure by helping them form cooperatives and making infrastructure improvements.
"In addition to helping the Oak Hill Acres Cooperative with clean water and functioning wastewater, this grant helps preserve several dozen units of affordable housing," said USDA Rural Development State Director for Vermont and New Hampshire Ted Brady.
Earth Day is observed annually on April 22 to raise awareness about the role each person can play to protect vital natural resources and safeguard the environment. Since the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, the event has expanded to include citizens and governments in more than 195 countries.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s 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’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. For more information visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/NH-VTHome.html.