Tester Helps Push Key Water Infrastructure Legislation Through the Senate

Water Resources Development Act Will Upgrade Drinking and Wastewater Systems, Invest in Flood Mitigation, and Preserve Pristine Montana Streams

(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester today helped push key water infrastructure legislation through the Senate.

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) authorizes critical water infrastructure initiatives that will update drinking and wastewater systems, as well as upgrade flood control infrastructure, and invest in stream and river restoration through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Program.

“If you don’t have access to clean water and modern infrastructure, you can’t have a strong economy,” Tester said. “Today we took an important step forward to help rural communities replace aging drinking water systems, reduce flood risks, and protect our world-class streams. Upgrading our ports and waterways will also help get Montana’s ag products to markets and put people to work. Now it is time for the House to pass a robust bill that will ensure these important resources are delivered to folks across Montana.”

Included in WRDA is the Blackfeet Water Rights Settlement Act, which authorizes the Blackfeet Water Compact and resolves all claims to water rights on the Blackfeet Reservation.

WRDA includes a series of provisions that will address the water infrastructure needs of Montana communities. The bill will:

  • Increase resources available to rural communities to upgrade safe drinking water infrastructure.
  • Establish new grants for communities to reduce and remove lead in drinking water.
  • Require that any infrastructure projects funded by WRDA use iron and steel that is made in America.
  • Establish direct funding to fix the contaminated water in Flint, Michigan.
  • Authorize 29 infrastructure projects to address flood control, improve ports and waterways, and restore ecosystems across the country.
  • Ensure watercraft inspection stations can be located outside of the Columbia River Basin to prevent the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species in Montana’s lakes and streams.
  • Improve snowpack and drought monitoring in the Upper Missouri River Basin-including Montana.
  • Establish a pilot program for innovative measures for preventing and mitigating flood damages associated with ice jams, with a priority on projects in Upper Missouri River basin states like Montana 
  • Authorize the Columbia River Basin Restoration program to support water quality, habitat and other restoration activities in Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon
  • Allow for partnerships in order to direct additional funds toward management of Corps of Engineers recreation sites 

WRDA also includes a provision Tester co-authored to provide local governments with information on cost-saving water system options like community well systems.

The Senate passed WRDA 95 to 3.