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Posts tagged: Grant

The Biology of Wastewater Treatment

By Jamie Welch, Worcester Prep, Berlin, MarylandThe upgrades currently taking place at the Berlin Wastewater Treatment Plant are comprehensive, and will allow the plant to fully process all the wastewater that goes through the system down to near drinking water quality.  The technology that the Town of Berlin, MD is installing 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.

Technology that is being installed as part of these upgrades is called a SBR or sequencing batch reactor.  I recently spoke with Jane Kreiter, Director of Water and Wastewater for the Town of Berlin, about this new technology and got a look at the lab where the Berlin wastewater officials monitor every stage of the treatment for specific criteria.

The new SBRs being installed at Berlin’s wastewater plant will all work in essentially the same way:  there will be three different SBR tanks installed as part of the ongoing upgrades, and Kreiter says that these will contain different amounts and kinds of bacteria to break down certain types of “bad” nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous.  Giant blowers at the bottom of each tank blow varying amounts of oxygen into the tanks, causing the oxygen to slowly bubble to the top.  The oxygen is needed to maintain the biomass inside the tank so that they can be healthy and break down and remove the various constituents in the waste stream.  When the bacteria are young in the biomass, they consume and break down a lot of the nitrogen and phosphorous, but as they begin to get older, they become full and less efficient at breaking down nutrients.  When this happens, they die and fall to the bottom of the SBR.  The dead bacteria are then removed from the bottom of the tank by way of a pump assembly and sent to a digester.  The amount of bacteria and oxygen in the SBR must be constantly monitored to ensure that the right amount of contaminants will be removed at each stage of the treatment process inside the SBR.

After the influent has gone through the entire treatment process it is ready to be sent to the spray irrigation site in Libertytown, Maryland.  Samples of the treated effluent are collected as they are leaving the plant and are taken to the lab.  Kreiter was embarrassed to take me inside the cramped, temporary lab that is located inside the mobile trailer they are currently using while the regular lab is being renovated.  She assured me that this was not what the lab normally looks like and asked to “make sure to come back when we get our new lab,” which will be opening when the rest of the upgrades are completed on site.  In the lab they test for pathogens, nutrients, total suspended solids, PH levels, and biological oxygen demand.

The upgrades to the Berlin wastewater plant, when completed, will break down nutrients and contaminants in the influent to create near drinking water quality effluent. “It’s a better quality than [the water] a lot people get out of their wells,” Jane Kreiter adds.  For a 24-hour time-lapse video of part of the Berlin Wastewater Plant SBR installation, you can visit the following links: for Part 1 and for Part 2.

Jane Kreiter, Town of Berlin, Maryland, Wastewater Treatment Plant Director Jane Kreiter, discusses the biology of the treatment operation with Jamie Welch, student blogger, Worcester Prep.
Jane Kreiter, Town of Berlin, Maryland, Wastewater Treatment Plant Director, discusses the biology of the treatment operation with Jamie Welch, student blogger, Worcester Prep.

Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom Residents Receive USDA Support to Increase Economic Development Opportunities, Spur Job Creation

Written by Anita Rios Moore, Vermont USDA Public Information Coordinator

USDA Rural Development State Director, Molly Lambert, joined by representatives from the Vermont Congressional delegation presented seven Northeast Kingdom organizations with Certificates of Partnership recently during a grant awards ceremony at the St. Johnsbury USDA office. The recipients received Rural Business Enterprise Grants (RBEG) to spur Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom businesses.

“Our mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for all rural Americans. These grants will help rural businesses with funding and technical assistance they need to expand and create jobs,” Lambert said. “We are pleased to partner with these organizations in order to spur economic development throughout the Northeast Kingdom.”

Three organizations, the Country Riders Snowmobile Club, Inc., Northeast Kingdom Travel & Tourism Association and the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, Inc. received grants to promote regional tourism throughout Caledonia, Essex and Orleans counties.  Two other organizations, The Center for an Agricultural Economy and the University Of Vermont & State Agriculture College, will use their grants to provide technical assistance to dairy farmers and agricultural businesses in the area. Both organizations will provide business counseling, plan or product development to their specified clientele.

“Following the announcement, the grantees had time to network,” said Steven Campbell, Director for the St. Johnsbury USDA Rural Development Area Office. “They’ve continued conversations beyond the day’s event that clearly indicate they understand the connections they share.”

Newport City Renaissance Corporation will develop a Newport brand recognition and a marketing strategy. Northern Community Investment Corporation will complete a Growth Readiness Fund to assist selected innovative high-impact business partners with specialized services that point toward preparing and advancing their businesses for job creation.

These seven grants add to 20 previously awarded to Northeast Kingdom, Vermont recipients. Grantees have provided business assistance, including internet marketing, business account training, the creation of a centralized reservation system for Northeast Kingdom tourism businesses, energy efficiencies, revolving loan funds and technical assistance in several forms.

The Northeast Kingdom is a designated Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) Zone.  The counties of Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans have special access to important USDA Rural Development programs.


Northeast Kingdom grant recipients signed grant agreement documents for their Rural Business Enterprise Grant awards to spur economic development throughout Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans counties. From left to right: Patricia Sears – Newport Renaissance Corporation; Kate Williams – Northern Forest Canoe Trails; Ron Merrill Country Riders Snowmobile Club; Jon Freeman – Northern Community Investment Corporation; Gloria Bruce, Northeast Kingdom Travel & Tourism Association, and Monty Fisher, The Center for An Agricultural Economy. Steven Campbell from USDA Rural Development discusses document, while Molly Lambert, USDA Rural Development State Director (in back) looks on.

Recovery Act at Work in the New York City Watershed

Ivy Allen, New York NRCSThe Watershed Agriculture Council (WAC) hosted a tour of three farms in the New York City watershed that received American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funding. Putting conservation on the ground in this watershed will result in more than 1 billion gallons of clean drinking water for 9 million New York residents every day. Projects featured on the tour included waste storage facilities, compost structures and stream fencing. Along with whole farm plans, these practices will result in reduced waterborne pathogens, nutrients, and sediments.

Through ARRA and an agreement with WAC, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is providing technical and financial assistance to 327 landowners in the New York City watershed who are voluntarily implementing conservation practices and improving water quality. NRCS helps landowners voluntarily participate in conservation programs that protect water and many other natural resources.

USDA-NRCS administered $1 million dollars through ARRA funding to improve water quality within the New York City watershed. The watershed extends 125 miles, contains 19 reservoirs, and 3 lakes. This surface water supply system is one of the largest in the world and the conservation practices being implemented support clean water and a healthy environment.

Stream fencing protects against animal waste and streambank plantings create a “buffer strip” that filters pollutants from the water.
Stream fencing protects against animal waste and streambank plantings
create a “buffer strip” that filters pollutants from the water.

Small Farm Composter.
Small Farm Composter.

USDA Community Facilities Funds Available to Help Indiana Communities Obtain Tornado Warning Sirens

Do you live in a rural community without a tornado warning siren?

“Right now we have money. We can help as many [communities] as come to us,” said Phil Lehmkuhler, Indiana’s rural development state director for the United States Department of Agriculture. Read more »

Appalachian Early Child Development Center Receives Expansion Funds through USDA

For working parents in isolated rural communities, quality child care is a lifeline that allows them an opportunity to obtain employment so they can provide for their families. Read more »

Washington State Tribe to Receive Grant for Small Business Training Program to Produce Local, Sustainable Shellfish

When you think of locally produced food, you often think of vegetables but in Washington State, Native “farmers of the sea” are developing a thriving aquaculture industry.  Like traditional farmers, these “sea” farmers sew and reap, but in this case the harvest is shellfish: oysters and clams. Read more »