Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Views Recovery Act Project that Improves the Environment and Creates Jobs in Maryland
The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack visited the town of Berlin, Maryland, Monday to check up on the upgrades that are taking place to improve the Berlin Wastewater Treatment Plant. Secretary Vilsack is the highest-ranking federal official to visit the town since Franklin D. Roosevelt was there in the 1930s. The Secretary spoke to the people of Berlin in front of the Atlantic Hotel about the status of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The technology that the Town of Berlin is installing as a part of that act was made possible thanks to a grant and some low interest Water and Environmental Program loans from the USDA. These upgrades will help to remove the pathogens, nutrients and other pollutants from the influent. The renovation and expansion that the USDA is funding will increase the capacity at the plant to 750,000 gallons each day and make the facility compliant with current Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Standards. The Secretary said that these upgrades will save or create over 65 jobs in our area.
Just over one year ago, the groundbreaking began on the new wastewater treatment facilities in Berlin. These improvements were funded by a USDA Rural Development $5,988,000 Loan and $5,828,217 Grant, a $1,500,000 Grant from the Maryland Department of the Environment, $700,000 from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and $2 million was contributed by the Town of Berlin.
Secretary Vilsack pointed out that the upgrades in Berlin are just one of many rural recovery projects that are ongoing throughout the country. He also announced on Monday funding for 89 projects to protect public health and the environment by improving water quality and public sanitation services in 32 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
“Investments in water and wastewater projects like this one in Berlin will help deliver safe drinking water and protect the environment throughout rural America,” Vilsack said. “These projects advance the Obama Administration’s economic recovery goals to provide reliable services in rural America. They create jobs and will support more job creation by supporting economic development initiatives.”
The two new recovery projects for Maryland are a $13,098,500 loan for the Rising Sun Commissioner to improve wastewater systems and a $5,419,000 loan and $1,501,000 grant for the town of Emmitsburg to improve wastewater systems.
He also reiterated that the USDA is an “Every day, every way” organization and that they do a whole lot more than just agriculture and wastewater: in fact, they work to bring broadband internet to rural homes and help feed people in the US and abroad. He said that the USDA helps people in any way they can.
In Maryland, the Recovery Act has invested $63.2 million in water and wastewater projects. The Total Recovery Act investment through all of Rural Development’s programs $256.7 million.
You can view a video montage of the energizing of Stage 1 of the new wastewater system and a short interview with the secretary on YouTube here. The new system is expected to be completed within the next month, and could be online as soon as a few months after that.