In honor of Earth Day 2021, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Indiana Rural Development Acting State Director Curtis Johnson announced that USDA is investing $487 million in critical infrastructure that will help communities in 45 states build back better and stronger while prioritizing climate-smart solutions and environmental stewardship. USDA is making the investments under the Water and Environmental Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Electric Loan Program and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program.

“By supporting rural communities, agricultural producers and business owners with their energy initiatives, USDA can continue our efforts to help create an environmentally sustainable future for generations to come,” Johnson said. “The investments we are announcing today demonstrate how the Biden-Harris Administration has put rural communities at the heart of clean energy solutions.”

Indiana highlights of today’s announcement include investments in:

Rural Water and Wastewater Infrastructure

USDA is investing $374 million through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 31 states. Through its Water and Environmental Programs, USDA funds vital water infrastructure that directly benefits the health, economic vitality and environment of rural America.

Town of Laurel will use a $89,000 loan and $290,000 grantto provide additional financing for the project funded in 2019 and 2018 totaling $690,000. This funding will bring the wastewater treatment plant into compliance with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's regulatory limits and effluent quality. The current plant is under sanctions for violations of effluent limits related to e-Coli and chlorides. This project will allow the sanctions to be lifted and provide service to the 512 residents at a reasonable rate. 

Town of Shipshewana will use a $7.3 million loan to improve operations at the wastewater treatment plant for 864 residents. Funds will be used to upgrade the facility to meet current national electric codes, stop redundant pumping and streamline process piping/tanking to maximize efficiency of existing tanks. Funds will also be used to correct infiltration to the digester tank and protect drying beds from winter elements to help improve sludge management. This improvement will enable the plant to process sludge year-round.

VanBibber Lake Conservancy District will use a $1.1 million loan and $2.8 million grant to upgrade the water system for 485 users in this district. Funds will be used to install water mains, service line and water meters at each residence along with water treatment plant improvements. The proposed distribution system work includes the installation of 24,250 linear feet for water mains, 50 fire hydrants, 107 isolation valves, 375 new water meters and pits and approximately 26,250 linear feet of water service lines. The water treatment plant work includes construction of a new building, aerator, detention tank, pressure filter, high service pumps, chlorine disinfection system, emergency generator, site piping, controls and grading.

Town of LaFontaine will use a $1.5 million loan and $2.6 million grant to update and repair the existing wastewater system. This project will help keep the town's wastewater system functioning efficiently and effectively and maintain safe drinking water for the 875 residents.

Town of Newport will use a $167,000 loanto provide additional financing for the water project funded in 2019 and 2018 for $2.6 million. This funding along with $700,000 in Community Development Block Grant partner assistance will build and improve water infrastructure to address environmental health concerns due to unsafe drinking water distribution and treatment for 515 residents. This project will upgrade wells, meter heads, tanks and water mains.

Jackson Township Regional Sewer District will use a $1.6 million grant to upgrade the current wastewater system located southeast of the town of Hartford City in Blackford County which will assist 80 residents

Renewable Energy in Rural Communities

USDA is investing $78 million in renewable energy infrastructure in 30 states through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). This program helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. Projects financed under this program can help to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that affects our climate.

Duane Jackson, a family owned, corn and soybean producer in Daleville, will use a $20,000 grant to purchase and install a 56 kW solar array. This project will save the business $10,777 per year and will replace 74,722 kWh (109 percent) per year, which is enough electricity to power six homes.

Loyd Riggle and Sons, a family owned, corn and soybean producerin Washington, will use a $20,000 grant to purchase and install a grain dryer. This project will save the farm $8,095 per year and will replace 362,641 kWh (74 percent) per year, which is enough electricity to power 32 homes.

Biofuel Infrastructure

USDA is investing $18.4 million in 20 states through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) to build infrastructure to help expand the availability of higher-blend renewable fuels by approximately 218 million gallons per year. This will give consumers more environmentally friendly fuel choices when they fill-up at the pump.

Family Express Corp is receiving a $220,000 grant to replace 19 dispensers and one storage tank at four fueling stations, as well as install six dispensers at one fueling station. Stations and locations benefitting from this grant are North Judson, Plymouth, Valparaiso, Brookston and Westfield. This project predicts to increase the amount of ethanol sold by almost 4 million gallons per year.

Bulk Petroleum Corp is receiving a $3.2 million grant to replace 165 dispensers and 30 storage tanks at 36 fueling stations in Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Iowa. Stations and locations benefitting from this grant are Nineveh, Bedford, North Vernon, Indianapolis, Anderson, Sellersburg and Scottsburg. This project increases the amount of ethanol sold by over 12 million gallons per year. 

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.

Information on programs available through USDA Rural Development is available by visiting www.rd.usda.gov/in or calling 317-290-3100. If you’d like to subscribe to Ohio USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

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