USDA Awards Nearly $28 million in Grants to Nine Rural Communities
WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the award of 11 grants to help rural Alaska villages finance water system upgrades and improve the quality of life for residents.
"These awards will dramatically improve living conditions for residents of these predominately Native rural Alaska villages," Vilsack said. "They will enable residents to have safe, modern water and sanitation systems."
USDA is providing $27.7 million through the Rural Alaska Village grant (RAVG) program. The funding is the latest in USDA's ongoing support for residents in remote Alaska villages. Under recent direction from the Obama Administration and Secretary Vilsack, USDA has improved the program to ensure that it addresses the challenging sanitation conditions that exist in many Alaska Native villages.
For example, the predominately Yup'ik community of Akiachak, located on the Kuskokwim River in the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta, has been selected to receive a $150,000 USDA grant and $50,000 from the State to prepare an environmental assessment, business plan and design documents for a new water system. Currently, only half of Akiachak residents live in homes with safe and healthy sanitation systems. The balance still haul water and use individual buckets (honey buckets) for sewage disposal.
Vilsack, who visited the region shortly after being named Secretary, said that these grants have dramatically improved people's lives. A few years ago, the predominately Native community of Pitkas Point was in dire need of new water supply and treatment facilities. Residents had to haul drinking water from local watering points, and wastewater was hauled in honey buckets along the same route children played and traveled to and from school. The community was able to build new sanitation facilities and a piped water and wastewater system as a result of a USDA Rural Alaska Village grant.
Between Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 and FY 2013, 63 construction and 76 planning grants have been funded through RAVG, improving service to more than 18,000 rural Alaskans.
Vilsack noted that announcements like todays are another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy and is just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible, he said.
Below is a list of awardees and the villages selected for funding, which is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement:
- Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium – $4,627,920; to improve water and wastewater systems in Kwethluk;
- Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation – $4,179,525; to construct a water storage tank and water treatment plant in Seldovia;
- Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation – $5,760,000; to build a water and sewer system in Hooper Bay;
- Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium – $5,338,236; to build a water treatment plant and water storage tank in Lower Kalskag;
- Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation – $3,061,987; to build a water and sewer system in Quinhagak;
- Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation – $1,004,250; to improve water systems in Adak;
- Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium – $1,950,000; to construct a sewage lagoon in Eek;
- Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium – $790,875; to build a water storage tank in Golovin;
- Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium – $150,000; for project design and to conduct an environmental assessment in Akiachak;
- Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation – $425,000; to provide technical assistance and training through the Remote Maintenance Worker program;
- Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium – $455,305; to provide technical assistance and training to help up to 20 rural Alaskan communities.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.
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