A Community Development Block Grant helped to modernize the village of Pilger’s water system (pop. 378). The Department of Environmental Quality had deemed the wastewater treatment plant inadequate, and beyond that determination, sewer mains were collapsing in the southern part of the village. The western part of Pilger used septic tanks because the area was not connected to sewer lines. With the project’s driving force coming from the village board, utilities superintendent, a consulting firm and concerned citizens, Pilger applied for CDBG funds. CDBG funding is nothing new to this northeastern Nebraska community with a population of 375, Pilger has been awarded previous grants for with water/wastewater, planning and housing.
The newest CDBG funds were used to construct a three-cell wastewater lagoon, replace the sewer lining and install sewers into west Pilger. Prior to the additions and updates, the sewers in the southern part of the community had to be cleaned frequently to remove sand and the ground surrounding the mains was collapsing. In west Pilger their septic systems regularly overflowed. The new sewer mains that were installed will not be infiltrated by ground water, the updated wastewater facilities are more than adequate and the village no longer relies on septic tanks. The new lagoons and wastewater plant are less labor and capital intense. The citizens of Pilger no longer worry about pumping septic tanks, or encountering sewage backup due to collapsing sewer mains. The facilities are an added asset to Pilger’s infrastructure.
During the process of applying for and receiving the grant funds, information was made available to the public through public meetings, allowing for feedback from the citizens. The community of Pilger also received a United States Department of Agriculture loan and grant to help with the costs of the water/wastewater project. The community’s wastewater system is more reliable and efficient thanks to help from the Department of Economic Development and the USDA.
Pilger is not new to Community Development Block Grants, and the new water/wastewater grant that they received updated and added new infrastructure to their community. The improvements may help to draw new families and businesses to the area, along with a renewed sense of community pride that is felt throughout the community.