Rounds, Klobuchar Introduce Legislation to Fast Track Construction of Rural Water Systems

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) today introduced legislation to reauthorize the Reclamation Rural Water Supply Act of 2006. Reauthorization would now include an authorization to the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) to undertake the design and construction of rural water supply projects, delivering potable water supplies to rural communities in western states.

In order for large scale water projects to move forward, they require two types of federal authorization: the authority for feasibility studies and the authority to construct these projects. In 2006, Congress authorized the Rural Water Supply Program to allow the BOR to develop and recommend rural water supply projects. This program, which lapsed in 2016, replaced the process of authorizing feasibility studies on a case by case basis by Congress. This legislation would reauthorize the program for 8 more years. 

“Access to clean water in rural areas is critical for South Dakotans,” said Rounds. “Authorizing each project individually causes these systems to get bogged down in unnecessary bureaucratic processes. Renewing the Bureau of Reclamation’s authority to study and authorize rural water systems will help deliver clean water by eliminating the need to authorize each project individually. I’m pleased to introduce this legislation with Senator Klobuchar to make it easier for America’s most rural residents to access the water they need.” 

“Rural communities have been disproportionately impacted by poor water infrastructure systems, making it increasingly difficult for them to dependably access clean potable water. We need to change that,” said Klobuchar. “That’s why I’m joining Senator Rounds to introduce this bipartisan legislation, which will help accelerate the deployment of critical rural water supply projects.”

Particularly for South Dakota, this reauthorization would help move along three major rural water improvement projects: the Water Investment in Northern South Dakota (WINS), the Western Dakota Regional Water System and the Dakota Mainstem which are all looking to spread water from the Missouri River throughout the state.

This legislation is endorsed by South Dakota Association of Rural Water Systems and the National Rural Water Association.

“Senator Rounds’ approach to reauthorizing the Rural Water Supply program exemplifies a no-nonsense strategy to streamline the federal process, ensuring more efficient and effective support for rural communities in South Dakota,” said Jeremiah Corbin, Interim Executive Director of the South Dakota Association of Rural Water Systems.

Click HERE for full bill text.