Escambia River Electric Cooperative receives $2.4 million
Special to The Advance
Investment in infrastructure has far reaching impacts on the quality of life of residents and the health of the natural environment. With financial assistance from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, residents in western Escambia County are set to benefit from improvements to the local water system. Officials from Escambia River Electric Cooperative, Inc. and local, state, and federal representatives were on hand for a ceremonial check presentation representing funding for system improvements.
Walnut Hill Water Works is located in rural northwest Escambia County along the western tip of the Florida panhandle. The existing water facility includes three wells and two elevated storage tanks serving 699 connections. In 2005, the system began experiencing problems when well #1 began to fail. Additionally, the well houses for wells #1 and 2 need physical and mechanical repairs, and overall system water losses average 19% over the last six years. The system is also experiencing various areas of low pressure and areas of high pressure, and storage capacity is deficient per the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
With Rural Development financial assistance of $2.4 million ($1,621,000 loan and $866,000 grant), system improvements will include a 200,000 gallon elevated storage tank, repairs to the existing well houses and associated operating equipment, and replacement and looping of existing lines to improve water pressure. On hand delivering the $2,487,000 check for improvements to the water system was Rural Development State Director Ronald G. Whitfield. “USDA Rural Development is pleased to work in partnership with Escambia River Electric Cooperative to improve the water system and safeguard the health and safety of area residents,” said Whitfield.
USDA Rural Development is committed to the future of rural communities and is the lead Federal entity for rural development needs, administering financial and technical assistance through Rural Housing Programs, Rural Business-Cooperative Programs and Rural Utilities Programs. Further information on Rural Development can be obtained by contacting any USDA Service Center or by visiting USDA’s web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/fl.