Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the completion of the 500th water and wastewater project funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The announcement was made on the Secretary's behalf in Lead Hill, Ark., by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service Administrator John Padalino.
"I am proud to celebrate this important milestone," Padalino said. "The Recovery Act has brought improved water and wastewater services to nearly 1.7 million rural residents. These projects have created jobs, stimulated local economies and helped ensure that rural residents have the modern, up-to-date infrastructure that rural communities need so they can continue to be great places in which to live and work."
Padalino made his remarks at the Ozark Mountain Regional Public Water Authority Treatment Plant in Lead Hill, Ark. The plant received $62 million in USDA Recovery Act funds to construct 120 miles of water pipeline, nine pumping stations and six elevated water tanks in rural northwest Arkansas.
In addition to the USDA funding, the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission provided nearly $10 million for the project. It serves more than 20,000 residents and businesses.
Padalino said that programs like the one that funded the Ozark Mountain Treatment Plant would not be available without a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. He urged members of Congress to work quickly to approve this crucial legislation when they return to Washington.
The recently completed Arkansas project is the culmination of years of work to address the insufficient quantity of water and the poor quality of groundwater supplies in the northwest part of the state, Padalino said. The counties served consistently rank among the poorest in the region.
Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA has invested more than $218 million, in 112 water and wastewater programs in Arkansas.
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. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $828 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.