LAKE ARIEL -  An announcement that coincided closely with Earth Day, occurred April 24 at The Hideout Lodge, where the USDA announced a $20 million sewer and water grant.
        The Assistant Administrator from the Water and Environment Program from the USDA Rural Development, Jacqueline M. Ponti-Lazaruk said the grant will, “protect the environment, help sustain rural community” and make the area a healthy place to live and work. The funding will provide a long term and fixed rate financing for the South Wayne County Water and Sewer Authority in the northern section of The Hideout Community. As part of the project, the old sewage collection system and water lines within the community will be replaced.
    Ponti-Lazaruk said the South Wayne County Water and Sewer Authority project is just one of 116 projects underway in 40 states and Puerto Rico as a result of funding from the Farm Bill. Across the country with water and waste programs, she said the USDA has funded $387 million in projects. The Farm Bill contributed $150 to those specific projects. Since 2009, she said the USDA has given $9.5 billion in water and waste infrastructures with $380 million going to Pennsylvania. That, she added is, “a testament not only to the good work that's done here by state office, but by the leadership.” A few benefits to the project, she explained will be the reduction in costs associated with operations of system, usage, capacity that is currently being used for the sewer system. Although it may not seem important, she added that it is “an opportunity,” because if someone is added to the new system that is costly. The approach that is happening, Ponti-Lazaruk called “very smart.”
    This level of funding is unique she said, and so the work done by members of Congress was  enormous because of the funds that were set aside from the Farm Bill.
    With water coming from five wells in the Hideout, Jack Lennox, the general manager of Roamingwood said 60 percent of the water is lost in the environment because of the bad pipes. He called the loss, “crazy.”
    Tom Williams from the USDA said the collaboration between the federal government and the state for the, “extremely and important projects,” are essential. In addition to the sewer and water project, without any elaboration, Williams said there will be “another major announcement,” in a few weeks regarding something in the area. Of the funding, Williams broke it down and explained that $13 million is a loan and over $7 million is the grant which he called, “really big and really good.” All of the grant money, he added came from the Farm Bill. In rural America, Williams said sewer and water is important because “it makes it all grow.” The USDA Rural Development, is about the opportunity to do such a project he said, and last year in Pennsylvania, the USDA committed over $1 billion to projects that helped “everything that exists in rural community.” He added, “we are here to stay, we are here to do these projects.”
    Betty Sullivan, the board president of the Roamingwood Water and Sewer Association said the project has been a “vision,” of many people. Sullivan thanked all those involved because the project will, “help protect and preserve the very sacred water supply and wastewater system that ultimately affects the Chesapeake Bay and our waterways.”
    Senator Lisa Baker said in order for people to turn on their facets and have clean water, it takes “a lot of commitment and resources,” to work properly. The project, she said is “very significant,” as it will “ensure that this pristine area remains the way it is.”  
    With this project,  Ponti-Lazaruk said an opportunity for the future of the community has been made, as costs will be affordable in the future, which was one of the “major purposes of this program.” The leadership behind the success, she called a “gift to families of the future of this area.” Speaking for the USDA, she concluded that, “we want to see rural American not just survive, but thrive and have wonderful, healthy communities for people to raise their families and to grow the economy.”