Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the funding of projects in 20 states designed to protect public health by improving water quality and public sanitation services. The projects, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act), are expected to provide construction jobs and create infrastructure needed to support community growth.
"Water and wastewater projects are moving forward in rural communities across the country and thanks to the Recovery Act, investments in water and wastewater infrastructure will help deliver safe drinking water and protect the environment throughout rural America," Vilsack said. "Through these projects, we are advancing the Obama Administration's economic recovery goals to rebuild and revitalize the nation's infrastructure. They will create urgently needed jobs when they are built and will support more job creation through rural economic development for years to come."
For example, the town of Norway, Maine, has been selected to receive a $385,000 loan and $1.1 million grant for wastewater system alterations that will improve sewer system efficiency, protect public health and safeguard groundwater quality. The project will replace aging clay pipes, service lines and manholes. The new waste water system will reduce the wastewater discharge from the Norway treatment facility into the Little Androscoggin River.
In Pitt County, N.C., the town of Bethel has been selected to receive a $256,000 loan and a $2.4 million grant to replace an aging water system that is constructed of iron, galvanized steel and asbestos-laden cement pipes. The tap water has a high iron level and is discolored. Pitt County is designated a Persistent Poverty County, with over 22% of the town's population below the poverty level. The project will improve water quality and boost water pressure.
The loan and grant funding announced supports 60 projects and totals $159 million. To date, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced $2.3 billion in Recovery Act funds for water and environmental projects.
The funding announced is being administered by USDA Rural Development's Water and Environmental Program, which provides loans and grants to ensure that the necessary investments are made in water and wastewater infrastructure to deliver safe drinking water and protect the environment in rural areas.