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Flushed Away...Probing For Antibiotic Presence in Our Food Supply

It’s a question with major public-health implications: Could antibiotics and other widely used medications get into our food supply when they are flushed into our sewers?

To try to answer that question, researchers from USDA and Penn State University (PSU) assessed whether some commonly used pharmaceuticals could get into a wheat crop irrigated with recycled wastewater.

Our Land. Our Water. Our Future. - Earth Day 2016

This Friday marks the forty-sixth observance of Earth Day, and our USDA Rural Development family is celebrating with a week of project dedications and groundbreakings across the nation – projects that have a direct and positive impact on the ecology and environment of our rural communities.

This week, Secretary Vilsack announced sixty projects that will improve water quality and safety in 33 states across the country, and what he said in his announcement deserves special emphasis; building and maintaining water infrastructure creates jobs, boosts the economy, and provides rural families with safe, reliable water and wastewater facilities that improve the environment.

Economic Development in Montana: Founded on Partnerships

One of the foundations of our work here in Rural Development is the close partnership we've developed with private sector entities like community and economic development organizations. A recent trip to Montana underscored that point as I visited several communities across the north central portion of the state.

Big Sandy, Montana is a salt-of-the-earth ag community, and also happens to be the home town of U.S. Senator Jon Tester. Senator Tester and I visited a newly completed wastewater project, as well as Big Sandy Activities - a center that helps developmentally disabled people build skills to allow them to live and work in the community. Both received funding support from USDA Rural Development, and have an enormous impact in this tiny rural town.

Celebrating Earth Day and Protecting the Environment in Rural America

It’s a fact most of us learned in grammar school.  More than seventy percent of the earth’s surface is water.  On this 45th Earth Day, I can’t help but be proud to recognize the work that USDA Rural Development is doing to improve water quality and availability in Rural America.  Today, USDA is announcing over $112 million in loans and grants to rural communities across the country for better water and wastewater systems.

To recognize Earth Day, today I visited the rural community of Henderson, Maryland. The town’s water system recently failed completely, leaving the 146 residents of Henderson without water. However, Rural Development stepped in to help. USDA is providing the town with a $175,000 Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant to make critically needed repairs to the system.

USDA Rural Development Celebrates Protection of Sebasticook River with Hartland Community and Makes $29.7 Million Landmark Earth Day Announcement

This Earth Day I visited the rural Maine community of Hartland, population 1,782, for its 1st Annual Earth Day Celebration. I was greeted by Hartland’s Interim Town Manager Christopher Littlefield, and the smiling children, residents, town and wastewater officials who welcomed me to their community for a special Earth Day announcement.

I was pleased to join partners including Maine’s Congressional Staff and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development to announce significant USDA Rural Development funding in the amount of $29.7 million to fund seven Maine wastewater treatment facilities. Included in the announcement is the Town of Hartland which will receive $1,600,000 through USDA Rural Development for essential upgrades to the wastewater treatment facility.

It's Personal...Scenic Pennsylvania Lake Community Celebrates Protecting the Environment for Earth Day with USDA Funding

As part of USDA’s weeklong celebration of the 44th anniversary of Earth Day, I had the pleasure of visiting Wayne County, Pennsylvania to announce funding that will bring improved water and wastewater services to residents and businesses of The Hideout, one of the state’s lake communities in the Pocono Mountains.

Thanks to congressional passage of the 2014 Farm Bill, USDA Rural Development received an additional $150 million to help rural communities build or upgrade water and wastewater systems in 40 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. We are pairing that grant money with an additional $232 million in regular funding to support 116 projects nationwide.

Planting the Seeds of a Successful Future for our Children on Earth Day

Earth Day is an every-day celebration! It’s also about the future -- creating a safe and healthy environment for our children and grandchildren. That's just what I celebrated with the families at Mountain View Estates in Oasis, California, alongside Congressman Raul Ruiz and California State Director Glenda Humiston. Thanks to a terrific partnership between Rural Development and the local community, as well as with public and private support, these families now have homes hooked up to a new water system that provides them clean drinking water and wastewater disposal.

I am very proud of Rural Development's work in the Mountain View Estates mobile home park.  Upon learning that 181 families were being displaced from their dilapidated trailer park because of hazardous conditions, mainly sewage backups and water contamination, Rural Development looked for opportunities to help re-build that community.  Today at Mountain View Estates, every family has access to basic amenities like clean drinking water, and reliable waste removal. Even electricity is no longer is a luxury.  This project not only improved the environment, it has also improved the overall quality of life for these families.

USDA Rural Development Supports New York Water Quality Improvement Effort

Late last month, I had the privilege of joining New York U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Delhi College President Candace Vancko, Chairman James Thomson of Delaware County and Saputo Dairy Foods USA Manager Liz Van Buren to discuss the Center of Excellence in Watershed Applications and Technology Based Economic Revitalization (COE in WATER) Initiative.

The COE in WATER is an innovative partnership with the State University of New York (SUNY), the local business community as well as federal, state and local governments who are committed to stimulating economic development and creating jobs in rural upstate NY.

Thanks to USDA, Rural Arkansas Residents and Businesses Have Safer Water

USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator John Padalino recently visited the 500th water and wastewater project completed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. "The Recovery Act has brought improved water and wastewater services to nearly 1.7 million rural residents,” said the Administrator.

Administrator Padalino made his remarks at the Ozark Mountain Regional Public Water Authority Treatment Plant in Arkansas.

Most people in the U.S. take for granted the fact that safe drinking water is readily available for use by simply turning on a tap, or pushing a button on a fountain.  However, many rural communities within the U.S. must deal with negative impacts associated with contaminated water sources at their homes and schools.