As of Friday, May 13, 2016
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) celebrated Earth Day by announcing the funding of projects that will improve rural water quality and safety in 33 states across the country, including Oregon, announced State Director Vicki Walker.
USDA is investing $183 million in 60 water and wastewater infrastructure projects nationwide through USDA’s Water and Environmental (WEP) Program, which provides technical assistance and financing to develop drinking water and waste disposal systems for rural communities with fewer than 10,000 residents.
“Helping rural communities maintain and upgrade their infrastructure is critical for public health, economic growth, and the environment,” said Walker. “Water and wastewater projects … help add new businesses and create jobs, provide families with safe, reliable drinking water, and enable small, rural communities to thrive into the future.”
The Parkdale Sanitary District in Oregon’s upper Hood River Valley is receiving a $1.51 million loan and a $1.17 million grant to upgrade its 40-year-old wastewater collection and treatment system. Improvements will include modifications to the existing pump station, screening, and electrical systems.
The aeration basin will be upgraded to enable the district to continuously discharge treated effluent. Additional improvements will be made in order to meet stringent summer total suspended solids requirements.
Finally, a temperature recorder will be installed in Trout Creek to measure ambient stream temperature and help ensure overall stream health. This project will enable the wastewater system to continue serving this rural community of 311 people, meeting their needs for years to come.
Seventeen of the Earth Day project recipients, including the Parkdale Sanitary District, are receiving funding priority through a 2014 Farm Bill provision that encourages communities to adopt regional economic development plans.
These projects are centered on collaboration and long-term growth strategies. They leverage outside resources and capitalize on a region’s unique strengths.
Funding for each project is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan, grant, or loan/grant agreement.
Earth Day is observed annually on April 22 to raise awareness about what individuals can do to protect vital natural resources and safeguard the environment. Since the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, the event has greatly expanded. Today, citizens and governments in more than 195 countries participate in Earth Day events.
This funding builds on USDA’s historic investments in rural America over the past seven years. Since 2009, USDA Rural Development (USDARD) has invested $11 billion to start or expand 103,000 rural businesses, helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes, funded nearly 7,000 community facilities, such as schools, public safety, and healthcare facilities, financed 180,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses. For more info, visit www.usda.gov/results.