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Maryland Department of the Environment

Maryland agencies fund infrastructure improvements in Eastern Shore community


Departments of the Environment, Housing and Community Development, provide grants for drinking water system upgrade in Pocomoke City; MDE grant is first under “WIIN” act to help disadvantaged communities

BALTIMORE (Nov. 30, 2021) – More than $1.4 million in grants will allow an Eastern Shore community to replace its aging drinking water distribution system. The grants include the first secured by Maryland under a federal program for infrastructure improvements in disadvantaged communities.

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) will provide $777,000 to Pocomoke City for the replacement of water lines. MDE received that money in response to a grant application from the department’s Water Supply Program to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under a section of the Water Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation (WIIN) Act for disadvantaged communities. That grant requires a 45% match by states, which in this case was met through a $635,727 Community Development Block Grant from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

“This is good news for Pocomoke City and it wouldn’t have happened without our federal and state partners,” said MDE Secretary Ben Grumbles. “Water equity is a key component of our work for environmental justice in Maryland and so much of it relies on sustainable infrastructure for clean, safe, and affordable water.”

“This project supports the mission of the Community Development Block Grant program by improving the lives of Maryland citizens living in rural areas” said DHCD Secretary Kenneth C. Holt. “DHCD is proud to partner with the Maryland Department of the Environment and provide this much-needed funding, which will help ensure clean and healthy drinking water for Pocomoke City residents.”

The grants will help Pocomoke City, in Worcester County, replace a distribution system that has aged, causing water that is rusty, with an unpleasant taste and odor due to internal corrosion of the aging pipe system. The planning, design, and bidding phases of the project will occur within a year, with construction starting soon afterward. The project’s total estimated cost is $1.5 million, with a local cost share of $87,273.

“This investment in our infrastructure will greatly improve the quality of life for the citizens of our community. Their health and safety is our number one priority and this grant awarded by the Assistance for Small and Disadvantaged Communities Drinking Water Grant Program offers the opportunity to make those badly needed changes,” said Pocomoke City Mayor Susan Marshall-Harrison. “On behalf of the citizens of Pocomoke City, we are thankful.”

The mission of MDE’s Water Supply Program is to ensure safe and sustainable supplies of water for drinking and other purposes to meet current and future needs of communities and ecosystems. This mission is accomplished through proper planning for water withdrawal, protection of water sources that are used for public water supplies, oversight and enforcement of routine water quality monitoring at public water systems, regular onsite inspections of water systems, and prompt response to water supply emergencies. The Water Supply Program’s activities help to ensure safe drinking water for more than 5.7 million Marylanders.

MDE is placing an increased emphasis on environmental justice in Maryland. In December 2020, the department issued its Environmental Justice Policy and Implementation Plan. MDE also supports and staffs the Maryland Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities. MDE’s mission in regard to environmental justice is to emphasize improvements in quality of life, economic development, and environmental protection for all communities.

DHCD administers Maryland’s Community Development Block Grant Program. Community Development Block Grant Program funds help strengthen Maryland’s communities by expanding affordable housing opportunities, creating jobs, stabilizing neighborhoods and improving the overall quality of life.

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