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At the Aug. 29 Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns announced that USDA is making available $8.8 million for a water treatment plant to serve members of EJ Water Cooperative.
“This investment will significantly benefit the lives of thousands of rural residents in east central Illinois,” said Johanns. “Water is the lifeblood of every rural area, providing for the health and safety of its residents and sustaining its economic well-being.”
As part of the announcement Johanns with Illinois USDA Rural Development Director Doug Wilson presented an $8.8 million ceremonial check to Chairman of the Board Delbert Mundt, Board President Diane Aherin and Chief Executive Officer Bill Teichmiller. The check represents USDA Rural Development’s support this year to help EJ Water become one of the fastest growing rural water systems in Illinois. It serves a population base of nearly 20,000 in seven counties, sells water to seven community water systems and interconnects with three others.
The one million gallon per day treatment plant will help to stabilize the water supply used by co-op members. They have been dependent in part on purchasing water from third party vendors. The plant is a low cost alternative with a long term benefit for the growing water system. The plant is designed to accommodate future growth and could triple its treatment capacity by operating 24 hours a day.
Rural Development began working with EJ Water Cooperative soon after Board Chairman Mundt first urged neighbors in 1989 to form a cooperative to address their water needs. In the 18 years since, Rural Development has been the co-op’s primary funding source with $42 million in loans, grants and a loan guarantee.