OHKAY OWINGEH, N.M. — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing $307 million to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 34 states and Puerto Rico. In Maine, the town of Searsport will receive a total of $6,401,000 to upgrade its wastewater treatment infrastructure.

The investments being announced today follow President Biden’s announcement last week of a Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework that will make the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history. The Framework will replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines, helping address barriers faced by communities of color, Tribal communities and rural America.

Searsport will receive a total of $6,401,000, of which $1,601,000 is in the form of a Water & Waste Direct Loan. The remainder is a $4,800,000 Water & Waste Disposal Grant. This Rural Development investment will be used to upgrade the town’s wastewater treatment facility from a primary treatment facility to a secondary treatment facility with tertiary treatment for disinfection. The investment will also be used for upgrades to all eight of the town’s pump stations. New conventional activated sludge aeration tanks will be constructed to provide secondary treatment.

USDA is financing the projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to help eliminate outdated pipes and service lines to safeguard public health and safety in rural communities. They will help improve rural infrastructure for 250,000 residents and businesses.

Background

The Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal, and storm water drainage. The program serves households and businesses in eligible rural areas with populations of 10,000 or less.

To learn more about these and other resources for communities in rural areas, contact Robert Nadeau, community programs director, at 207-990-9121.