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April 22 Earth Day

Investing in Our Planet – and People in Rural South Carolina


Over the past year and a half, members of the SC Rural Development Executive Leadership Team have crisscrossed the state meeting with community leaders to ensure our programs and the benefits of our program are equally accessible to all, particularly our disadvantaged communities in the state. The question that has driven us is, “Do we care, enough?” We have spent a lot of time simply listening to the voices of the communities we serve and have come away from each conversation inspired to work together to meet unmet needs and to lift our rural communities economically so that they not only survive but thrive. 

This week is Earth Week and people all over the globe are celebrating the ways we can all make our world a better place. The theme for 2023 is “Invest in Our Planet.” 

In South Carolina, we are thrilled to celebrate Earth Day this year and every year as just one of the many ways we show how much “we care.” A lot of people don’t realize that investing in our planet is something that we do at USDA Rural Development every single day, while creating good jobs for rural people across the country. For us, it’s our mission to invest in our planet – and people across rural America. 

Under the Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America agenda, USDA Rural Development partners with rural and Tribal people to build brighter futures in rural America – by investing in our planet while creating good jobs for generations to come. We do this critical work in many ways all around the country.  USDA is doing this work by helping to:

  1. Expand access to safe drinking water, clean energy and reliable wastewater infrastructure for rural people everywhere.
  2. Reduce energy costs and create jobs for rural Americans through the Inflation Reduction Act.
  3. Help people make the transition to biobased products across the nation.

The success of rural America is critical to the success of the rest of the country and the world. So, when we invest in projects that create good-paying jobs and advance clean infrastructure in rural communities, we create a ripple effect that impacts everyone. This is what President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is about – to strengthen communities that for too long were left out or left behind.

For example, The Town of Santee received a $11.8 Million Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant to improve and expand the town of Santee Water Waste Treatment Plant (WWTP) which services the town and areas adjacent to the town by converting from an outdated aerated lagoon system to a Sequencing Batch Reactor system with capabilities to expand the system in the future.  This project will involve an expansion of Santee’s water waste treatment plant from 0.713 million gallons per day (MGD) to 1.5 MGD with an ability to further expand to three MGD when the need arises. The expansion of the Santee WWTP is necessary to ensure that wastewater discharged into the Santee Wastewater System continues to be properly treated and the region has the ability to serve current and future economic development.  This investment will help over 1500 people have access to safe water and waste disposal systems.  

Projects like this one invest in our planet, create jobs for rural people and they ensure that the resources and wealth we build in South Carolina stay right here in South Carolina.

Under the leadership of President Biden, Vice President Harris and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, USDA Rural Development is committed to ensuring that the people who live in rural areas have every opportunity to succeed – and that they can find those opportunities right at home in places like rural South Carolina.  

USDA is proud to celebrate Earth Day to show how we are investing in locally driven solutions to expand access to safe water and reliable wastewater infrastructure, renewable energy and essential services that create jobs, build critical infrastructure and create sustainable futures for rural America. We are committed to unleashing the potential of all rural and tribal communities to build a secure and successful future for all, as SC Rural Development, “One Team, One Voice!”

For more information and to contact your local USDA Rural Development office, please go to To learn about USDA RD’s water programs, go to here.

Dr. Saundra Glover

South Carolina State Director

USDA Rural Development