The Village of Verdigre (pop. 575) has proven that a small village can accomplish big tasks. The village’s wastewater treatment plant, constructed in 1971, was being operated well beyond its intended life expectancy. The inefficient and outdated system led to significant maintenance costs for the Village and was not meeting the requirements for upcoming permit revisions. Verdigre leaders recognized the urgent need to solve this problem. In cooperation with WLA Consulting, a Wastewater Facilities Plan, which proposed a package treatment plan, was prepared in November 2005. Unfortunately, the proposed project’s high cost prevented the Village from obtaining any loan funding.
Village leaders worked together with the village engineer to identify project alternatives and concluded that a new lagoon treatment system was the best option for Verdigre. Funding the project was the next critical piece. The Northeast Nebraska Economic Development District (NENEDD) assisted in the preparation for grant applications. In October 2008, Governor Dave Heineman awarded Verdigre with a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) of $250,000. Verdigre provided matching funds with assistance from USDA Rural Development.
The community of Verdigre provided an abundance of collective support and input for the project through participation in public hearings, a community attitude survey, and the strategic planning process. The Village’s hard work paid off, they now have a new and upgraded village wastewater treatment facility which meets the needs of the entire community, upholds regulations, and no longer discharges waste into the Verdigre Creek. More than 500 Verdigre community members have benefited from the project, including over 300 low-to-moderate income residents.
The CDBG assistance really helped make the project attainable for the Village of Verdigre. CDBG funding enabled the community to complete the wastewater treatment project and reduce the size of the loans needed from outside sources. This, in turn, reduces future loan payments and monthly utility bills for residents.