Just Three Months Ago, Senator Introduced Bipartisan Legislation to Make Sure Rural and Small ND Towns Have Safe, Clean Drinking Water
WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 10, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today announced the Senate unanimously passed her bipartisan legislation to make sure small towns and rural areas have the technical assistance and training they need to help protect and improve their water supplies.
Just three months ago, Heitkamp and Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi introduce legislation to support rural water systems in North Dakota and across the country. The Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act would address difficulties small and rural towns often face in complying with federal drinking water rules, as they often lack the resources for the latest technology or access to the technical assistance to do so. Heitkamp and Wicker’s bill would help offset these costs by providing $15 million in annual technical assistance and training to help small towns and rural areas provide their residents and businesses with safe, clean drinking water. Less than two months ago, Heitkamp and Wicker’s bill unanimously passed in the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
“We need to make sure all North Dakota families and businesses have access to clean and safe drinking water – including those living in rural communities,” said Heitkamp. “Last night, the Senate unanimously passed our bipartisan bill to reauthorize a program that helps make sure rural communities can provide residents with clean and safe drinking water – a vital lifeline that too often we take for granted. Folks who grew up in small towns understand, as I do, that clean water builds rural communities, helping make them stronger, more likely to thrive, and more protected for generations to come – and this bill will help accomplish that goal.”
“We are grateful for Senator Heitkamp’s help and assistance to the country’s over 50,000 small and rural communities that are trying to provide safe and clean water to their citizens every day,” said Eric Volk, Executive Director of the North Dakota Rural Water Association. “The Senator’s bill ensures that the most helpful and environmentally beneficial initiatives are available to rural communities. This approach is truly unique in the federal effort to protect the environment because it accomplishes progressive environmental protection with the support of the local communities. Small communities comprise more than 90 percent of the water supplies in the country. However, due to a lack of economies of scale, it is often more difficult for small towns to comply with federal rules, afford the latest technology, and have access to technical experts.”
Heitkamp has long worked to foster relationships encouraging increased resources and assistance for rural areas. In November, Heitkamp met with Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Acting Administrator Jasper Schneiderto discuss the need for targeted investments, like water infrastructure, in rural communities across the nation. On the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Heitkamp serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy – which oversees RUS.
The 2014 Farm Bill, which Heitkamp played a leading role in crafting, places a strong emphasis on supporting rural development projects. The bill authorizes programs that help upgrade and improve rural water systems, invest in expanding rural high-speed Internet, provide loans to consumers to improve energy efficiency through the new Rural Energy Savings Program, and reauthorize several other existing programs that are critical to supporting economic and community development in rural America.