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Federal Grant Will Help Safe Water Flow to Rural Residents

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WARREN COUNTY — Safe drinking water is an afterthought to many of us, but nearly a million people in rural communities have unsafe or no running water at all.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman was in Warrenton Monday to announce a new series of grants to get many rural residents hooked up to water lines. It is all part of President Clinton'sWater 2000initiative.

The USDA is giving a total of $226 million in grants and loans to 41 states.

In North Carolina, that means more than $12 million is on the way to parts of Wilson, Warren and Vance Counties. The money will pay to replace underground wells with access to city water.

In Wilson County, that means 72 miles of water lines that will pump clean water to more than 1,100 families.

"We believe poor well construction may be the worst cause of the contamination. It allows sediment and organic matter to get into the wells, especially when it rains," says Ellis Williford, Wilson County manager.

The federally-funded program is voluntary. Homeowners who do not want to hook up and pay for the water do not have to participate.

For Louise Nixon, the decision is a no-brainer. She has been reluctant to drink her water for so long, she is more than happy to sign up.

"I can drink it and feel safe and be happy about it," she says. "This will be one of the problems that you don't have to worry about."

Other North Carolina counties have benefitted in the past:
  • 1997:Halifax County was awarded $1.2 million.
  • 1998:Martin and Bladen Counties received more than $5 million each.
  • 1999:Northampton County received nearly $3 million, while Robeson County received more than $13million.
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    Brian Bowman, Reporter
    Brian Bowman, Photographer
    Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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