WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-MD) today announced a $2,462,000 loan and $1,037,350 grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program that will help the Town of Berlin, MD upgrade its wastewater treatment plant so that it no longer discharges wastewater into surrounding streams. The funding is one of 53 projects across the nation designed to improve water and wastewater service and benefit the environment that the USDA is supporting as part of its week-long celebration of Earth Day.
The Rural Development funding will be used to make crucial upgrades to Berlin’s existing wastewater treatment facility. The ongoing project will ultimately result in construction of a new irrigation system, which will enable the plant to completely halt discharging into the Hudson Branch. The Hudson Branch is currently the most polluted stream section in Maryland’s Coastal Bays watershed and building a new irrigation system at the Berlin plant will protect the environment of Worcester County and Atlantic Ocean Coastal Bays.
“Berlin’s current water infrastructure system is inadequate and is part of a nationwide problem in which many communities have outdated water and sewer systems that require greater investment,” said Senator Cardin, chairman of the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “This funding will help safeguard the health of Worcester County residents and Maryland’s fragile coastal areas. This week as we celebrate Earth Day, I applaud the USDA for recognizing the pivotal role that water infrastructure plays in safeguarding and improving our environment.”
“I am proud to work in the U.S. Senate to build communities and create jobs. This federal investment to improve Berlin’s sewer system will do just that,” Senator Mikulski said. “Maryland cities and towns need to upgrade their water and sewer infrastructure but they can’t do it on their own, and rate payers shouldn’t have to bear the full burden. This grant is a double value for the taxpayer dollar, creating jobs while improving health and safety and helping this community grow.”
The Maryland Department of the Environment requires Berlin to finish upgrades at the wastewater treatment plant by December 2012, in accordance with the State’s priority for the protection of waters. In addition to conserving the Hudson Branch, Berlin officials also expect the project to enable the town’s wastewater treatment plant to support further growth in Berlin. The current plant has stymied development in the area, but the new irrigation system will allow for controlled growth.
USDA’s assistance has been vital to Berlin’s upgrade efforts at the plant. The Department previously provided a $5,828,217 grant for the project in FY 2009.