WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the selection of more than $123 million in water and environmental projects that are being funded immediately through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The projects will help provide safe drinking water and improved wastewater treatment systems for rural towns and communities in 24 states.

"The water and wastewater projects announced today support the Obama administration's goal of rebuilding and revitalizing our country's rural infrastructure and putting people to work by doing the work that Americans want done." Vilsack said. "These Recovery Act investments will provide reliable drinking water and sanitary waste disposal while creating and saving jobs in rural America."

The 24 states where projects are located include: Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

In Gulf County, Fla., the City of Wewahitchka has been selected to receive $5.44 million to provide funding for a centralized water system for the residents of Stone Mill Creek community and to replace the city's 30- year-old storage tank. The centralized water system for Stone Mill Creek community will ensure quality drinking water and provide adequate water pressure for fire protection.

Meanwhile, Johnson City in Washington County, Tenn., was selected to receive $869,000 to extend safe, reliable water service to an area outside the city limits where household wells and springs have become unreliable for a significant part of the year. A majority have also already tested positive for bacteria and other contaminants. The new water mains will deliver service to about 75 existing households in the Hartmantown area and enable the city to meet the needs of other families and businesses as this rural community on its doorstep continues to grow.

USDA Rural Development's Water and Environmental Program provides loans and grants to ensure that the necessary investments are made in water and wastewater infrastructure to deliver safe drinking water and protect the environment in rural areas. Funding of individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.