USDA chief announces funds to help local water, sewer and power systems on Wisconsin visit

By: - December 17, 2021 6:10 am
Tom Vilsack

Tom Vilsack speaks in Wilmington, Del., after being nominated as Secretary of Agriculture in December 2020. Vilsack visited Wisconsin Thursday to announce a aid to a series of communities for water, sewer and electric power projects. (Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images)

Rural Wisconsin will get $114.5 million in investments for water and electric power, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on a visit to the state Thursday.

The funds come from the USDA’s Rural Development programs through the recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Projects include $27.6 million for the city of Bloomer to replace lead service lines and water mains with lead joints as well as sanitary sewer mains; $21.1 million to replace a wastewater treatment infrastructure in the city of Waterloo; $10.1 million to renovate and expand a wastewater treatment plan in the village of Wonewoc; $20.7 million for the city of Chetek to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant; $21.8 million for the village of Turtle Lake to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant and sewer system, including reducing excess phosphorus and chloride; and a $13.2 million loan for Scenic Rivers Energy Coop to build new line and a new headquarters. The cooperative provides electric power to 14,289 customers in seven south central and southwestern Wisconsin counties and two northwestern Illinois counties.

In a statement, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) cheered the announcement, pointing out her own support for the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

“Every Wisconsin community needs access to clean drinking water, an environment free of toxic chemicals, high-speed internet, and stable electricity,” Baldwin said, adding that “the Biden administration’s commitment to rural communities will help make that reality, while also creating good-paying jobs across the state.”


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Erik Gunn
Erik Gunn

Deputy Editor Erik Gunn reports and writes on work and the economy, health policy and related subjects, for the Wisconsin Examiner. He spent 24 years as a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine, Isthmus, The Progressive, BNA Inc., and other publications, winning awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, beat coverage, business writing, and commentary. An East Coast native, he previously covered labor for The Milwaukee Journal after reporting for newspapers in upstate New York and northern Illinois. He's a graduate of Beloit College (English Comp.) and the Columbia School of Journalism. Off hours he is the Examiner's resident Springsteen and Jackson Browne fanboy and model railroad nerd.