Examples of Community Infrastructure Projects
Increasing Water Capacity for a Growing Industry: Letart Water Line Project
Each year nurseries and greenhouses in the Letart area of Meigs County produce over $5 million in tomato plants, hanging baskets, and flower flats. These products, sold primarily to large national retailers such as Wal-Mart and Kmart, have become a substantial part of the local economy. Recently, however, community officials became concerned about the large quantities of water required by these businesses and the potential water shortage these requirements might engender for farms and residents alike. With support from the Appalachian Regional Commission, Meigs County officials solved the problem by completing the Letart Water Line. With its larger water pipes and a new pumping station, the project has helped ensure that the nursery industry can continue to grow and create new jobs.
Eastern Kentucky has long been plagued with pollution problems that affect residents' health and quality of life, and that undermine the region's appeal as a host for businesses and tourists. In many mountain areas illegal trash dumps pollute hillsides and waterways, and raw sewage from straightpipes and failing septic systems contaminates streams.
Pollution is a regional problem. Hundreds of streams, creeks, and rivers connect communities in the region. So even if one community cleans up its hillsides and waterways, pollution and waste can still flow downstream from neighboring towns.
In 1997 Congressman Hal Rogers and the late General James Bickford launched PRIDE: Personal Responsibility In a Desirable Environment. PRIDE is a non-profit group that encourages citizens to take responsibility for protecting their environment.
The initiative brings together volunteers from numerous counties to clean the region's waterways, end illegal trash dumps, and promote environmental awareness. In addition, PRIDE offers grants to eliminate straight pipes and failing septic tanks, construct sewer systems, and eliminate dumpsites. PRIDE programs include an annual Spring Cleanup and environmental education programs.
Making Drinking Water Safe: Western North Carolina Straight-Pipe Elimination Project
In Madison County, North Carolina, the discharge of raw sewage into local streams threatened water basins serving 75 percent of the county's residents. These discharges came primarily from residences without septic systems or with failing systems. To deal with this health problem, local officials surveyed the area to locate these residences and worked to raise public awareness of a state amnesty program that encouraged straight-piping households to report themselves. Officials then worked to obtain funds to provide loans to help lower-income residents install new septic systems or repair old ones, and last summer the county began following up on the hundreds of people identified as possible candidates for the loans. The program was so successful that North Carolina expanded it to a number of the state's other Appalachian counties. ARC will support a major survey of the counties and the establishment of three revolving loan funds to help residents improve their septic systems.
Many people in Appalachia live without basic amenities, such as clean drinking water and safe wastewater disposal facilities. Chronic water and waste problems threaten public health and environmental quality, and consume resources that might otherwise contribute to family security. The conventional solution is to extend public water and sewer lines. But such systems are often too expensive for rural areas, such as Virginia's southwest coalfields.
The Commonwealth of Virginia, through a program called Self-Help Virginia, is working with selected communities to reduce the cost of environmental infrastructure by an average of 64%, while bringing water and wastewater to people who otherwise would never receive basic services.
Staff members in the state's Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) begin by helping communities assess their readiness and capacity to succeed. Once a project starts, residents swing into action with help from local professionals. Volunteers from the community commonly work with local water providers to haul materials, install pipe, and provide traffic control. All facilities are professionally designed to meet or exceed state construction and permitting standards. Projects are typically completed less than one year after the initial contact with state staff. Eligible projects can receive up to $350,000 in CDBG and/or ARC grant funds.
Working Together for Mutual Benefit: Rainsville Industrial Park Infrastructure
With the closure of five textile plants in De Kalb County during a recent two-year period, local community leaders recognized the need to attract other industry to the Rainsville Industrial Park. By improving the park's water supply and sewer capacity, community leaders were able to develop a $10 million facility to make interior and exterior plastic parts for a new Honda assembly plant in nearby Lincoln. Officials expect at least 120 new jobs to be created at the new Rainsville Technology, Inc., plastics manufacturing site, a subsidiary of Moriroku Company Limited of Japan.
The new plant would not have been possible without the cooperation of two municipal governments—the town of Section, which owned the water system, and the city of Rainsville, which ran the sewer system. Although some municipal governments can be territorial about their water and sewer services, these two municipalities agreed to work together to develop the new plant. As a result, both communities are now enjoying the benefits of that cooperation.
Working Together for Public Health: Randolph and East Randolph Wastewater Facilities
Recognizing that poor sewage disposal was threatening the health and economic well-being of many area residents, the small adjacent villages of Randolph and East Randolph in Cattaraugus County decided to work together to resolve the problem. Surveys showed that residences, businesses, and schools in both communities relied on individual septic tanks for sewage disposal. Tight soil and a high water table resulted in the frequent failure of these septic systems. Together the communities hired an engineering firm to design a wastewater system to meet their needs and were able to obtain state and federal funds for construction. The partnership resolved a serious public health problem, eliminated runoff into adjacent waterways, and generated new commercial and residential development.