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Protecting Waterways Means Preserving a Way of Life for People Living in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and Delaware River Basin

Posted by Xochitl Torres Small, USDA Rural Development Under Secretary in Equity Rural
May 08, 2023
A group of people standing outside smiling with Earth Day 2023 sign

Water has always shaped where we plant our communities and how they grow. If you farm, fish, or live in rural America, you know that healthy waterways are vital to ensuring that communities, large or small, can continue to thrive.

That’s why the 2023 Earth Day theme, “Invest in Our Planet,” pairs so well with President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. For millions of people living in and around the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River Basin, this means starting at home with upgraded water and wastewater infrastructure. The rivers, lakes, and streams that flow through New York, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and D.C. are a source of drinking water, recreation, fishing and so much more.

Recently, I joined officials in Chesapeake City, Maryland to celebrate the completion of a new wastewater treatment facility. USDA Rural Development invested $6.6 million through our Water and Waste Disposal Direct Loan and Grant Program to combine two aged and inefficient systems into one state-of-the-art facility. The facility is designed to help protect the nearby Chesapeake and Delaware Bays from wastewater pollutants. This critical funding will help to ensure the quality of life for families who have built their livelihoods on the opportunities made possible by these iconic waterways.

As I stood on the banks of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, I was joined by nearly 100 people, including state and local officials and U.S. Senator Tom Carper of Delaware. USDA partners with community leaders like these to support locally driven solutions to expand access to safe drinking water and reliable wastewater infrastructure. It rests at the heart of what we do. I looked over the sea of faces and I knew each one represented the thousands of rural people whose lives will be impacted by these investments.

When USDA invests in wastewater infrastructure, we are not just revitalizing aging facilities. We are creating access to clean watersheds for millions of people. We are ensuring that communities like the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River Basin can build a sustainable future for generations to come. These projects make me proud to invest in our planet and in rural America.

For more information on how your community can benefit from technical assistance and financing to upgrade or develop drinking water and waste disposal systems, visit our website at Water & Environmental Programs | Rural Development (

Category/Topic: Equity Rural