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Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager Observes Earth Day by Announcing Water System Funding in Rural Colorado

Written by Amy Mund,  Public Information Coordinator USDA Rural Development-Colorado

Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager joined Colorado Rural Development State Director Jim Isgar in Woodland Park earlier this week to celebrate Earth Day.  Tranquil Acres Water Supply, a small rural community of 60 users received $564,700 in USDA water and environmental program loan and grant funding to help repair existing water lines and to upgrade the system.  The entity has been facing severe reliability issues for several years because the original system was placed too shallow for the area.  Several board members attended as well as representatives from Senator Udall and Senator Bennet’s offices.

Homeowners present at the event noted they are excited that once the system is operational, they will not have leaking, freezing pipes to deal with and others will have the opportunity to hook up to the system.  The entity hopes to break ground in July 2010.

Pictured (left to right) is John Dover, honorary utility board member, Ron Weien, Board President and Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager.
Pictured (left to right) is John Dover, honorary utility board member, Ron Weien, Board President and Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager.

Wastewater Plant Expansion Project to Improve the Water Quality of Delaware’s Inland Bays

Photos and blog courtesy of Kathy Beisner, Public Information Coordinator, Delaware

It was my pleasure to join Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, Delaware Senator Tom Carper and a host of Federal, State and area dignitaries including Michael Scuse, Deputy Under Secretary  of the USDA Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services; Rural Development State Director Jack Tarburton, Kathy Bunting Howarth, Director Division of Water Resources for the State of Delaware and Vance Phillips, President  of Sussex County Council at a groundbreaking ceremony for a project that will improve the water quality of the Inland Bays by expanding a wastewater treatment plant.  After the expansion is completed, over 2500 onsite septic systems will be eliminated.

The $15 million project not only will improve water quality, it will provide jobs for the employees of a local construction company. Much of the funding is from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, signed into law by President Obama just over a year ago.  Additional funding comes from USDA Rural Development regular water and environmental program funds and from the State of Delaware.  Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the funding for the project yesterday, Earth Day.

Senator Tom Carper and Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan agree on the Boy Scout's motto ... Leave a place better than you found it. (Center of Photo, State Director Jack Tarburton.
Senator Tom Carper and Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan agree on the Boy Scout’s motto … Leave a place better than you found it. (Center of Photo, State Director Jack Tarburton.)

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan throws the largest shovel of dirt at the ground breaking ceremony for the Inland Bays Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion. Pictured left to right: Vance Phillips, President Sussex County Council; Michael Scuse, Deputy Under Secretary Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services; Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan; Jack Tarburton, USDA Rural Development Maryland/Delaware State Director; Senator Tom Carper; and Kathy Bunting Howarth, Director Division of Water Resources DNREC.
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan throws the largest shovel of dirt at the ground breaking ceremony for the Inland Bays Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion. Pictured left to right: Vance Phillips, President Sussex County Council; Michael Scuse, Deputy Under Secretary Farm and Foreign Agriculture Services; Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan; Jack Tarburton, USDA Rural Development Maryland/Delaware State Director; Senator Tom Carper; and Kathy Bunting Howarth, Director Division of Water Resources DNREC.

Rural Development in Tennessee Observes Earth Day by Planting Trees, Purifying Drinking Water

Planting trees is a very traditional way to celebrate Earth Day. Over the years the trees grow up to do many good things for the environment; filter water runoff before pollutants slip into streams, supply the oxygen we breathe and even reduce energy bills by cooling homes and businesses with their shade. Read more »

Rural Development is now on Twitter!

USDA Rural Development can now be found on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/USDARD. By following us you will receive updates with the latest information about Rural Development’s mission areas, including more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs.  This is account is intended to widen our communication and outreach to the online community, and provide the public with the most current information on rural events, programs, success stories, answers to commonly asked questions, and more.

Follow us today as Rural Development celebrates the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day.  Rural Development is planning over 40 activities, led by Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager, who will be in Woodland Park, Colorado, to participate in an event marking the use of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to improve drinking water quality in a subdivision. Curtis Wiley will represent the department in Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico at a dedication ceremony for a new water system.

Rural Development will also join 17 other USDA agencies today at the USDA Earth Day Festival in the People’s Garden located on the USDA Whitten Building grounds on the National Mall – 12th and Jefferson Drive.  There will be live entertainment, a truck farm, a working water system demonstration, and numerous children’s activities as well as exhibits.  USDA’s Earth Day Festival will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.   We hope to see you there!

Become a Conservationist!

   

By Dave White, Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service

I just spoke to a great group of folks celebrating Earth Day here at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It was a pleasure having a chat with so many people, including Congressional Representatives, who are excited about conserving and protecting our country’s natural resources.

At USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service we’ve been helping people become good stewards of soil, water, air, and wildlife habitat for 75 years, and never any time in our history have we seen so many people stepping up and making a commitment to conservation.

We do most of our work with folks in agriculture, but even if you’re not a farmer or a rancher we’ve got you covered. If you have a backyard or just a couple of flower pots in your kitchen window, we can help turn you into a conservationist. Our Backyard Conservation Web page is absolutely alive with great information that I know you’ll enjoy.

Come on down and visit us on the Mall (we’re at the end closest to the Washington Monument), and check out our special demonstrations on soils.

Make Earth Day every day!

NRCS Chief Dave speaks at Earth Day, National Mall, Washington, DC.
NRCS Chief Dave speaks at Earth Day, National Mall, Washington, DC.

Earth Day in the People’s Garden – Agency Exhibits and Activities

Stop by the USDA’s People’s Garden today from 10 am – 2 pm for Earth Day activities and exhibits:

The People’s Garden – encourages you to get your hands dirty at the People’s Garden worm count activity! Our volunteers with green thumbs will be on hand, helping children create mini greenhouse necklaces and dispensing Earth Day passports that’ll keep you moving from activity to activity.  Visit with Wicked Delicate, a partner of the People’s Garden, at their Truck Farm demonstration in ‘The People’s Garden’ on Earth Day. They’ve launched a mobile farm tour as part of Earth Week to encourage growing, eating healthy food whether in a truck or other unexpected place.

 Agricultural Marketing Service – will feature information about how to find a farmer’s market in your community as well as seed testing and identification.  USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service administers programs that facilitate the efficient, fair marketing of U.S. agricultural products, including food, fiber and specialty crops.

 Agricultural Research Servicewill show you how it’s using remote sensing to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.  A special “Frog Fling” contest will help kids learn how to identify healthy ecosystems.

 Animal and Plant Health Inspection Servicewill teach parents and children about aquatic Federal Noxious Weeds.  Dr. Al Tasker, National Noxious Weeds Program Manager, will be on hand to teach participants how to identify weeds and how to report noxious weed findings, as well as answer questions.  

 BioPreferred – will tell you about BioPreferred and biobased products.  You can learn about an up-and-coming Federal program run by USDA that promotes the use and sale of biobased products not only to open up new agricultural markets and increase energy independence but to improve the environment by lowering our carbon footprint.  BioPreferred will have biobased product samples available for visitors to look at across different areas—construction, janitorial, cafeteria and more. Be sure to pick up a brochure with more program information and don’t forget to grab our very popular petroleum-free lip balm!

 Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion & Food and Nutrition Service – will disseminate education materials about the State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as well as information about nutrition education materials, MyPyramid, recipe cards, and healthy eating tips.   

 Departmental Management/Office of Operations – will teach you about green roofs and conserving water at home.  Be sure to stop by for some energy giveaways while supplies last. 

 Farm Service Agency – will focus on the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which encourages the replacement of natural wetlands that removes nitrogen from water supplies.  Information about the Source Water Protection Program also will be available along with Biodegradable bags, FSA Coloring Books for the children and other agency promotional items.   

 Food Safety and Inspection Service – will focus on the importance of the four safe food handling behaviors—Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill, and demonstrate how to use these behaviors to reduce the risk of foodborne illness and Be Food Safe.

 Forest Service – will show you easy and effective hands-on demonstrations of the Importance of forests to water resources.  This hands-on educational demonstration using water will encourage kids to think about the sources of clean water and its value to the environment and their health.  The demonstration will show how forests act like sponges, filters, umbrellas, and homes, and how this ties to clean water and healthy aquatic ecosystems. This experiment is geared to encourage kids to get involved in projects to protect our water sources. 

 Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration – will show you how to grind flour for pancakes using a grain mill as well as host a series of activities involving grain and livestock which include a word search and coloring page, sand art in a bottle with grains instead of sand, scales to weigh toy animals with a worksheet visitors can use to calculate what the pay rate would be and determine how much the seller is owed for the livestock, and show a model of a stockyard with toy animals .

 National Agricultural Library – will provide information on topics that include gardening, lawn care, diet, nutrition, food safety, pets, floral images, fun things for kids and much more. 

 National Agricultural Statistics Service – will feature the results of the 2008 Organic Production Survey. Visitors also will be able to find out about the On-Farm Energy Production Survey that will be conducted in May and June. Kids are encouraged to stop by NASS’ booth for some fun activities.

 Natural Resources Conservation Service – will feature a “Restoring the Nation’s Wetlands,” 10-ft X 10-ft Nomadic-type display a water erosion demonstration by two of our soil scientist to show youngsters how important it is to protect the soil.

 Rural Development – will highlight Rural Development’s Water and Environmental Programs.  Rural communities benefit through the provision of cleaner water, and better wastewater treatment systems and reliable, modern plants.   Also on hand will be the Delaware Rural Water Association who will provide their on-site working  water system which allows visitors to see what goes on in-between the well and to your tap at home including, water filtration, chemical injection and water storage tank.  The on-site training trailer allows the public to see the science and processes needed to receive clean drinking water every day. The on-site trailer also demonstrates water testing equipment, hydrant, safety equipment and training information.

 SPECIAL GUESTS will be on hand for photo ops – Stop by and meet Woodsy Owl, Sammy Soil and Power Panther!

 SPECIAL MUSICAL GUESTS Mucho Gusto who are Sam Morgan and Tabby.