Tester Unveils Bipartisan Bill to Update Rural Water Systems

Legislation Will Provide Upgrades to Water Systems That Serve Fewer Than 10,000 Residents

(U.S. Senate)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester today sponsored bipartisan legislation to update Montana’s aging rural drinking and wastewater systems.

Tester’s Rural Community Clean Water Technical Assistance Act will provide rural water systems that serve fewer than 10,000 residents with technical assistance to ensure drinking and wastewater infrastructure meets important safety guidelines. Rural water systems often don’t have enough resources to keep up with routine maintenance and are subject to the same federal guidelines as large metropolitan water systems. Additionally, small water systems face funding challenges compounded by lower household incomes in rural areas and higher water rates.

“Without access to clean, reliable water you can’t have healthy families or a healthy economy,” Tester said. “This bipartisan bill provides folks in rural communities with the support needed to ensure that every household has reliable access to clean water.”

Tester’s bill will provide rural water systems with $15 million over five years for technical assistance and upgrades, which will bring drinking and wastewater infrastructure into compliance with current federal and state safety guidelines.

Tester’s bill will also allow states to use up to two percent of their State Revolving Fund to provide technical assistance for rural wastewater treatment facilities within their state. Similar initiatives within the State Revolving Loan Fund have been highly effective and successful in assisting communities with essential infrastructure upgrades.

Tester last year helped get a bipartisan water infrastructure bill signed into law that increased investments and established new grants for rural water systems.