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USDA Rural Development celebrates Earth Day By Awarding Nearly $180 Million For Rural Water Systems


Agriculture Under Secretary Thomas C. Dorr celebrated the 37th anniversary of Earth Day today by announcing USDA Rural Development funding of 61 new rural water and wastewater community systems in 29 states totaling nearly $180 million.

“These projects will build and improve rural water and sewage systems, and rural communities will benefit through cleaner water, recreation and wildlife resources,” Dorr said. “USDA is working with communities across America to provide investment financing and an improved quality of life for local residents.”

Earth Day is observed annually on April 22 to inspire awareness of and appreciation for the environment. The USDA funding announced today will help communities upgrade sewage systems to better manage storm runoff, expand and/or upgrade water treatment plants, extend water service to new residents and build a renewable energy generation facility.

For example, USDA Rural Development provided a $28.9 million loan to Earth Resources Inc. (ERI) in Franklin County, Ga., to construct a 20 megawatt renewable energy generation facility that will be fueled by 80 percent wood waste and biomass, and 20 percent chicken litter, making it a 100 percent renewable energy project referred to as Plant Carl. The project will also construct six tenths of a mile of line and related interconnection facilities to connect Plant Carl to the Georgia Transmission Corporation North Carnesville Substation. The Rural Development loan will be 75 percent of the total cost of the project ($38,385,918). ERI has contracted with Coweta-Fayette Electric Membership Corporation (Coweta) for 15 years to sell all the energy produced from Plant Carl. Coweta will sell most of the renewable energy generated by the plant to Green Power Electric Membership Corporation for use by its 31 members across the state of Georgia.

In Thurston, Neb. a $322,000 loan and $253,000 grant to help the village construct a controlled discharge lagoon system. Work will include construction of a lift station and reworking existing lagoon cells to provide a higher maximum water level and achieve required capacity. When this project is complete, Thurston will be back in compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit and will have a wastewater facility that will be able to handle the capacity demanded by the community. The Village of Thurston has a population of 125 and a median household income of $26,875.

In Aroostook County, Maine, Rural Development provided a $12 million loan to the Tri-Community Recycling and Sanitary Landfill to install an impervious barrier covering two old cells and an active gas extraction and dispersal system for the original landfill. Part of the money will be used to install a composite liner for two new vertical expansion cells, install an active gas extraction and dispersal system and purchase additional land for buffering purposes.


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