CENTER — On Thursday, the Center Sanitation District received some very good news, delivered, appropriately so, in honor of Earth Day 2021. Irene Etsitty, Colorado Acting State Director for the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development, announced the Center Sanitation District was awarded $3,273,000, an investment in infrastructure made possible under the Water and Environmental Program (WEP).
“Water is a critical resource for every community,” said Etsitty, announcing the award. “The assistance provided today can help mitigate health risks and increase access to safe, reliable drinking water and sanitary waste disposal services.”
Currently, the Center Sanitation District relies on an existing lagoons system that is out of compliance. As stated in the project description listed on the Water and Environmental Program website, “This Rural Development investment of $3.2 million will be used to help the Center Sanitation District award a construction contract to complete its Mechanical Wastewater Treatment Plant…and will contribute toward a treatment plant that will bring the wastewater system back into compliance.”
“Having proper wastewater treatment and disposal systems is important for a community’s economic vitality and public health,” Etsitty said. “Once complete the project will ensure the residents of Center have clean waste disposal services for years to come.”
The $3.2 million investment is comprised of $2.1 million in loans – typically very long-term, very low-interest loans -- and $1.1 million in grant funding. This follows $8.5 million in loan and grant funding for the project awarded by USDA Rural Development in 2020.
“Once complete, the project will ensure the residents of Center have clean waste disposal services for years to come”, said Etsitty.
The USDA Rural Development program has a history of supporting infrastructure improvement in rural areas, especially with water-related projects. This program helps small communities extend and improve water and waste treatment facilities for households and businesses, based on the principle that good practices can save tax dollars, improve the natural environment and may be necessary for manufacturers and other types of businesses to locate or expand operations.
In the introduction of her announcement, Etsitty framed the investment as support of “critical infrastructure that will help Colorado communities build back better and stronger while prioritizing climate-smart solutions and environmental stewardship.”
The USDA Rural Development WEP program provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage and solid waste disposal, and stormwater drainage to households and businesses in eligible rural areas. Nationwide, USDA is investing $487 million in critical infrastructure that will help communities in 45 states under the Water and Environmental Programs, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Electric Loan Program, and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, Tribal and high-poverty areas.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America.