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Posts tagged: Environment

Ensuring Modern, Timely Decisions for Infrastructure Projects

Today the Obama Administration announced a Presidential Memorandum that expands a government-wide effort to improve the Federal permitting and review process. This is a big step for USDA because it will help us ensure timely decision-making and review of infrastructure projects, while ensuring the environmental protections that stand at the heart of the review process.

It’s very important to President Obama and I that well-managed, beneficial projects aren’t held up by unnecessary delays. USDA is committed to the President’s goals of modernizing the permitting and review of infrastructure projects because our efforts are particularly important in rural America. By ensuring timely review of projects, we can better carry out our mission to strengthen community infrastructure and provide opportunities for rural America to create clean, renewable energy. By fostering greater transparency and predictability in the Federal permitting process, we’ll be able to deliver better value for the taxpayer while still avoiding negative impacts to our natural and cultural resources, which remain equally important drivers of economic opportunity. Read more »

Digging Deep for Clean Water in Illinois

After two decades in the making, 71 households in rural Jefferson County, Illinois have begun to see the benefit of hard work and perseverance.  And the end result is as simple as turning on the faucet! Moores Prairie Township Water Company celebrated last month as a project they’ve dreamed of for 23 years finally comes to fruition. Prior to the completion of this initiative, Moores Prairie Township residents and farms utilized a combination of shallow wells, deep wells, cisterns and purchased water to provide their water supply.

Residents realized that their dependency upon private water cisterns represented a serious threat to their health and safety, and began looking at options at the same time of the advent of the internet…1990!  Although they continued to face struggles in obtaining a water connection and funding source, they never gave up. In June 2010, the Moores Prairie Township Water Company was formed and discussions with USDA Rural Development ensued, resulting in a $318,000 low interest loan for 40 years and additional grant funds to help fund the project.  Construction began last year, and the system was placed into operation in April. Read more »

Saipan Students Set Conservation Example

Northern Marianas College in Saipan has an extraordinary group of student volunteers eager to answer conservation’s call.

These students, members of a college club called Environmental & Natural Resource Organization, are known throughout the community for their environmental work. Whether cleaning beaches and city streets or tending public gardens, they are role models and valuable volunteers in the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Earth Team program. Earth Team is the volunteer workforce of NRCS.

A faculty member in the NMC Math, Science, & Health Department founded ENRO in 2009. Since then, students have led, planned and organized conservation activities. These students log countless volunteer hours cleaning up and improving the environment of Saipan. In addition to picking up trash and weeding, they spend their free time learning about more complex methods of conservation. Read more »

USDA Marks Earth Day by Announcing Water Quality Improvement Projects Across America

Engineer checking a flowmeterand V-notch weir on a dairy farm in California.

Engineer checking a flowmeterand V-notch weir on a dairy farm in California.

Earth Day is one of our favorite days at USDA Rural Development because we get to showcase the important work that we do to improve water quality for millions of rural Americans. As a part of our Earth Day Celebration this year, USDA Rural Development is announcing 43 projects that will bring new and improved water and waste disposal service to rural communities in 32 states.

For example, one of the projects we’re announcing is in Texas. Buffalo Gap, a rural community outside of Abilene will construct a first-ever wastewater collection system.  The community currently is all-septic.  The funds will allow construction of sewer lines, manholes, lift station and cleanouts.  The system will collect sewage and pump it to Abilene’s wastewater treatment plant.  This is just one example of a small community doing big things to help its residents this Earth Day. Read more »

NRCS Recovery Act Project Helps Provide New Starts for Residents

For more than 45 years, people who lived in West Virginia’s Dunloup Creek Watershed have dealt with floods. That’s because there’s a scarcity of flat land in the area and residents have had to settle mostly along the creek—the very area that floods during storms.

Two major floods in 2001 and 2004 devastated five low-income communities spread out across two counties in the watershed. The floods destroyed houses, ate away at the stream bank, polluted drinking water and washed away utilities. Damages totaled millions of dollars.

Because of the mountainous terrain and far-flung population, traditional flood control measures like dams, channels, floodwalls, dredging and flood proofing were not feasible. Yet many residents were trapped into living in their damaged homes, unable to move out because of perilous financial circumstances. Read more »

NRCS Program Prevents Fuel Spill Disaster in Alaska

The relocated tank farm on a higher and drier site, away from the river’s edge. Photo courtesy Crowley Petroleum Distribution.

The relocated tank farm on a higher and drier site, away from the river’s edge. Photo courtesy Crowley Petroleum Distribution.

When a flood damaged the banks of the Yukon River in Fort Yukon, Alaska, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service stepped in to help prevent a major environmental catastrophe.

The citizens of Fort Yukon are predominantly Alaskan Natives who live a subsistence lifestyle, relying on fish from the Yukon River as one of their main food sources. The community is not accessible by road and all supplies are either barged in during the short summer or flown in at extreme expense. An entire year’s fuel supply for the village’s vehicles, heating and power is held in a 750,000 gallon tank farm. Read more »