News Briefs: White House Announces $10 Billion Rural Infrastructure Fund

In this week's news, investors eye up rural opportunities, seawater threatens a treatment plant and a Canadian researcher takes on a biosolids project.
News Briefs: White House Announces $10 Billion Rural Infrastructure Fund

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Rural infrastructure will receive a financial shot in the arm, thanks to a $10 billion private fund aimed at creating jobs and growing rural economies. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and CoBank CEO Robert Engel announced the fund during the two-day Rural Opportunity Investment Conference, held in Washington D.C., on July 23-24 to unite investment firms, government officials and business leaders.

CoBank, a cooperative bank that serves rural areas, will act as the fund’s anchor investor, and Denver-based investment firm Capitol Peak Asset Management will manage the fund and recruit investments.

“This fund represents a new approach to our support for job-creating projects across the country,” says Vilsack in a Rueters article. “Many major investors in urban centers aren’t always aware of the significant investment opportunities in rural communities.”

Target investments will include community assets and infrastructure such as power companies and water and wastewater systems.

Source: Reuters, CBS

Could Wastewater Facility Become Homeless Resource Center?

In Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., an unused wastewater treatment facility could become a resource for the area’s homeless population. Community Solutions, a group of church, commerce and community leaders, will present a plan to the city to lease the 8-acre property in hopes of converting the buildings to centers where the group can feed and house those in need.

The facility is nearly empty, and is only used by one sewer crew for pump repairs. According to an NWF Daily News article, the old plant has not been deemed surplus property because of its low market value.

“The location of the plant property for use as a community resource center and shelter is perfect,” City Manager Michael Beedie told the Daily News. “The size allows for future expansion, and the existing condition of the property allows for almost immediate use as a cold-night shelter and food-service facility.”

Source: NWF Daily News

Governor Visits Treatment Plant To Highlight Climate Change

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee recently visited Seattle’s West Point Wastewater Treatment Plant to learn more about the effects of climate on the state’s wastewater infrastructure. During high tides, the plant has been fighting saltwater intrusion, which causes problems with pumps, piping system and the plant’s biological processes.

Inslee spoke about the high costs of infrastructure upgrades that are needed to deal with anticipated rising sea levels.

“We don’t have a [cost] estimate at West Point, but we know it’s significant because we know it’s not just this plant, it’s all three ancillary pumping stations that are going to have to be if not rebuilt, refortified to deal with the sea water intrusion,” said Gov. Inslee in a KUOW report.

Source: KUOW

Biosolids Research Targets Alkaline Stabilization

A Canadian researcher is taking a closer look at emerging substances of concern (ESOCs) as they pertain to biosolids, the agricultural system and food sources. Dalhousie University researcher Dr. Gordon Price will use lab, field and modeling approaches to investigate how alkaline stabilization affects the concentration and transportation of ESOCs through soil, plant biomass and groundwater.

The project will collect and analyze biosolids with and without alkaline stabilization and then report on the soil concentration of ESOCs before and after treatment.

Ultimately, Price hopes results of the study will aid an understanding of alkaline stabilization processes and help direct government policies on biosolids management in agriculture.

For more information on Price’s study, click here.


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