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water and environmental program

Public-Private Partnerships: A Forum Focus

Teamwork can improve virtually any endeavor, from partnering with a neighbor by exchanging butchered meat for hay to feed the rest of the herd or simply sharing a ride to save on gas.  The result is usually savings and efficiency.

At USDA, that notion is taken to another level with public-private partnerships that improve economic stability for producers, the financial sector, and a nation that leans heavily on the shoulders of its farmers and ranchers.

Smooth Sailing to Grand Canyon West with the Hualapai Tribe

There were many things to celebrate about the newly paved nine-mile stretch of the Diamond Bar Road in Western Arizona, a road that links state and county roads to Grand Canyon West on the Hualapai Reservation. At the ribbon cutting celebration for the completed road, Tribal, state and federal officials all noted the obvious benefit of the paving: The trip for the thousands of visitors every year to Grand Canyon West would be smoother and faster. Hualapai Tribal member Rory Majenty, who emceed the road celebration, pointed out another benefit for tribal members, “We probably won’t have to buy a new truck every few years like we used to have to do because of the rough road!” Tribal members weren’t the only ones dogged by the undulating washboard road. Visitors and tour buses were plagued by flat tires, bent oil pans and hubcaps that flew off into the desert.

The Hualapai Tribe operates the popular Grand Canyon Skywalk over Grand Canyon West. The glass platform juts out in a horseshoe 70 feet over the canyon and is an attraction that draws over 700,000 visitors from around the world annually.

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.

Texas Town Gets out the Arsenic with Help from USDA

Arsenic is poisonous. It is also just about everywhere, but it is especially prevalent in the groundwater of the Southwest. In the economically challenged City of Freer, Texas, citizens rely on the Freer Water Control and Improvement District (FWCID) to draw water from the underground Catahoula aquifer and deliver safe drinking water. Naturally occurring arsenic levels have remained constant in the region for more than a century. Then, the Environmental Protection Agency’s new national standards took effect and the City of Freer turned to FWCID to take action.

Aided by financial assistance from the USDA Water and Environmental Program, the FWCID has completed a two-phase approach to meeting the district’s water supply and public safety needs. FWCID first received USDA funding to drill two new water wells, each rated at 167 gallons per minute (now a total of eight wells); 13,600 feet of well collection lines; and 15,000 linear feet of well control line to remotely control the wells, and the delivery of raw water from the well site's million-gallon holding tank to the new Arsenic Removal System (Phase II). Previously, water flow was manually controlled by FWCID personnel and gravity fed from the well facility to its customers.

Pennsylvania Lakeside Community Sewer Extension Has Minimal Impact

As a sewer extension project winds through the lakeside community portion of Nuangola, Pennsylvania, residents are experiencing minimal impact.  Last year, Nuangola Borough received $4.4 million in USDA Rural Development Water and Environmental Program (WEP) loans and $3.9 million in WEP grants to fund the installation of a low pressure wastewater collection system for the borough. Treatment of the wastewater collected will be done by the neighboring authority’s existing sewage treatment facility. The system will serve an estimated 420 homes.

USDA Helps a Utah Town Earn a "Most Improved Water System" Award

Sigurd, Utah, located on the border of Fishlake National Forest, is a town of 435 and varying elevations. The highs and lows of Sigurd’s landscape make it a beautiful place to live, but with an outdated water system, the location caused problems for the residents. For years, the town coped with a small water tank, outdated pipes, and inconsistent water pressure. Most of the system had not been upgraded since its initial construction and each time the pipes broke, a majority of the town was cut off from the water supply until maintenance crews could fix the problem.

USDA Rural Development Helps Rural Wisconsin Community Provide Senior Housing, Child Care and Clean Water

Earth Day was earlier this week and one village in Wisconsin has helped secure the future for themselves and their children through environmental upgrades.  Nestled in a valley in western Wisconsin, the Village of Spring Valley has faced its share of challenges throughout its history. Prior to completion of an earthen dam in 1968, flooding was a chronic problem.

Two projects largely funded by USDA Rural Development have improved the quality of life and the environment in Spring Valley.  The first, completed in June 2011, is the new wastewater treatment plant.  Because the Rotating Biological Contactor system’s capacity had been significantly reduced in years prior, the need to upgrade the plant was inevitable.  The Village received $3.5 million in funding through USDA Rural Development’s Water and Environmental program.

“The wastewater treatment plant is more compliant with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.  We release back into the Eau Galle River after treatment, so it’s imperative that we meet the standards,” said Marsha Brunkhorst, Spring Valley Village President.

USDA Rural Development Presents 2012 Wisconsin Valued Partner for Engineering Excellence

USDA Rural Development is committed to working with partners across the nation to assist in improving the quality of life and promote economic sustainability for our rural communities and residents. These valuable partnerships come in many forms, from partners who make financial investments to support business and infrastructure expansion and development to our partners who provide hands on services and expertise that help make these projects a reality.

In an effort to recognize these important partnerships, Rural Development Wisconsin State Director Stan Gruszynski, has named Stanley Charron as the recipient of the 2012 Wisconsin Valued Partner Award for Engineering Excellence.

A “Greener” Earth Begins With You and Me

Local leaders are keeping the spirit of Earth Day alive and well in rural South Dakota.  On Monday April 18, 2011, USDA, Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager announced 51 water and waste disposal and two Community Facilities projects funded as part of Earth Day 2011.  I had the privilege of spending several days in South Dakota during that week to celebrate Earth Day and highlight the efforts of rural communities who are improving the quality of life for their residents and working towards efforts to protect the environment for future generations.

In the City of Sturgis, 105 second and fifth graders celebrated Earth Day alongside local leaders outside of the Sturgis Elementary School.  The City highlighted upcoming improvements to their water system, made possible through a loan and grant from USDA Rural Development.  Students, USDA officials and the mayor shared their thoughts on why taking care of the community and the environment is an important activity for everyone at every age.