USDA Invests $8.2 Million to Build and Improve Critical Infrastructure in Rural Oregon, including two local communities

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PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 16, 2021 –U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is investing $8.2 million to build and improve critical infrastructure in rural Oregon. The investments will help expand access to clean water and high speed internet in rural communities across the state.

“When we invest in rural infrastructure, we invest in the livelihoods and health of people in rural America,” Vilsack said. “Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is committed to Building a Better America by investing in America’s rural infrastructure, expanding access to broadband, clean drinking water and resilient power infrastructure. The investments we are announcing today will drive the creation of good-paying union jobs and grow the economy sustainably and equitably so that everyone gets ahead for decades to come.

”This announcement follows the recent passage of President Biden’s historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and reflects the many ways USDA Rural Development’s programs are helping people, businesses and communities address critical infrastructure needs to help rural America build back better. 

“Many Oregon communities enjoy benefits from being remote or small in character,” said Jill Rees, Acting State Director for USDA Rural Development in Oregon. “Rurality often affords privacy and independence. The investments we’re announcing today are supporting and building on those benefits so that our rural neighbors may experience the same safety and connectivity provided through modern water and broadband infrastructure as larger communities do.

”In Oregon, four projects will help communities provide dependable water, wastewater, and high speed internet. They are funded through the Community Connect Program, the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program, and the Special Evaluation Assistance for Rural Communities and Households (SEARCH) Program.

Pioneer Telephone Cooperative will use a $3 million grant to construct an approximately 40 mile Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) system in rural Lane County, Oregon. This development will serve approximately 125 residents through expanded access to the economic, educational, health care, and public safety opportunities afforded through high speed internet. In addition, as part of this project, the community will enjoy at least two years of internet access free of charge at a local community center.

Biggs Service District in Sherman County will use a $898,000 loan and $290,000 grant to complete significant water system improvements. This project will allow the service district to install a main water line which will serve all district users and provide the necessary fire flow for community growth. In addition, the service district will purchase two formerly private wells and upgrade them to provide a backup water source.

The City of Dufur in Wasco County is receiving a $2,442,000 loan and $1,625,000 grant to make wastewater system improvements for their community of about 600 people. This project includes multiple components which will expand storage, improve treatment, and make significant upgrades which will not only have a positive impact on water conservation, but also support the city’s planning efforts.

City of Falls City in Polk County will use a $30,000 SEARCH grant to conduct a Preliminary Engineering Report for the city’s wastewater system. The existing system is in need of improvement and the completed report will inform the city engineer on necessary future upgrades.

Vilsack highlighted 359 investments totaling $5.2 billion that USDA is making in seven programs designed to help people in rural areas access high-speed internet, clean water and dependable electric power. These programs include Community Connect Grants, Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program, Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans and Loan Guarantees, Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program, Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees, Water and Waste Disposal Technical Assistance and Training Grants and Water and Waste Disposal Predevelopment Planning Grants.

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. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page

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