Marking the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that 69 water and environmental projects will provide critical water and wastewater infrastructure improvements and help protect water quality and the environment in 36 states.
"As citizens around the world celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, USDA is especially proud of our role in protecting the environment in rural areas and helping rural citizens gain access to safe and reliable drinking water," said Vilsack. "Through USDA's Water and Environmental program, we continue to make investments in rural water infrastructure projects that support local communities by providing greater economic opportunities while protecting natural resources for future generations."
Earth Day is observed annually on April 22 to raise awareness about the role of citizens, businesses and communities in protecting the environment and ensuring a cleaner, brighter future for generations to come. Since the first Earth Day celebration in 1970, the event has expanded to include participation by citizens and governments in more than 190 countries around the globe.
To protect the environment and improve the health of rural families, USDA Rural Development is providing $268.5 million in funding assistance to 69 water and wastewater infrastructure projects in local communities across the country through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) and other Water and Environmental Program funding. In addition, nearly $23 million is being provided for technical assistance training through the Technical Assistance and Solid Waste Management programs. Today's announcement includes $110.7 million in Recovery Act funding.
For example, the City of Norton in rural Virginia is receiving a $1.29 million loan and a $3.88 million grant to help mitigate a public health hazard resulting from sewage overflows into two local rivers. The funding will be used for improvements to the City's existing wastewater collection system to reduce significant inflow and infiltration.
In Cleburne County, Ala., the Ranburne Water & Sewer Board has been selected to receive a $1.18 million loan and $941,000 grant to replace a water tank, asbestos-laden cement pipes, water lines and meters that are over 40 years old.
President Obama signed the Recovery Act into law on Feb. 17, 2009. It is designed to jumpstart the nation's economy, create or save millions of jobs, and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so our country can thrive in the 21st century. The Act includes measures to modernize our nation's infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief, and protect those in greatest need.
More information about USDA's Recovery Act efforts is available at www.usda.gov/recovery . More information about the Federal government's efforts on the Recovery Act is available at www.recovery.gov .