Wicker, Heitkamp Introduce Rural Water Bill

Bipartisan Proposal Would Enable Small Communities to Meet Safe Drinking Water Standards

March 3, 2015

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., have introduced bipartisan legislation to help small and rural communities comply with “safe drinking water” regulations.

“Many communities face daunting costs when attempting to meet the terms of federal drinking water rules,” said Wicker. “These mandates are further complicated when access to technical experts is limited. This bill would enable municipalities to attract funding and technical assistance in their efforts to provide safe, clean drinking water to their citizens.”

“Connecting North Dakota communities is at the heart of what it means to be at home in our state, and making sure our rural towns have the resources they need to access clean drinking water is a key part of that connection,” said Heitkamp. “Growing up in a small town like Mantador, I’ve long understood the challenges in making a few resources go a long way. That’s why I’m working with Senator Wicker today to reauthorize a critical program that engages our federal government with our rural communities by giving small towns across this country the technical assistance they need to improve and protect their water supplies. We can keep our rural communities connected to safe, reliable drinking water systems, and I’ll keep building relationships with our federal partners, and working toward practical policy measures to make that a reality.”

The “Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act,” S. 611, would reauthorize the “Safe Drinking Water Act’s” (SDWA) technical assistance and training provision for $15 million per year over the next six years. Wicker and Heitkamp introduced similar legislation during the 113th Congress.

More than 50,000 small and rural communities, comprising more than 90 percent of the drinking water supplies in the country, are responsible for providing safe, clean water to their citizens. The Environmental Protection Agency’s technical assistance and training provision assists these communities in securing the necessary technical expertise to improve and protect their water resources. The initiative has been effective in ensuring implementation of the SDWA in rural areas.

The bill is cosponsored by Senators John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Roy Blunt, R-Mo., John Boozman, R-Ark., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Al Franken, D-Minn., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Jim Risch, R-Idaho, Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Jon Tester, D-Mont.