Tester, Daines Introduce Bill to Improve Montana’s Rural Water Infrastructure

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines today introduced a bipartisan bill to provide much-needed authorization for Montana rural water infrastructure.

The Clean Water for Rural Communities Act, authorizes two Bureau of Reclamation rural water projects-Dry-Redwater Rural Water System (DRWA) and Musselshell-Judith Rural Water System (CMRWA). The bill will collectively facilitate water treatment and delivery to 22,500 residents in Dawson, Garfield, McCone, Prairie, Richland, Judith Basin, Wheatland, Golden Valley, Fergus, Yellowstone, and Musselshell Counties in Montana and McKenzie County, North Dakota.

“Our rural communities need clean and reliable water in order to thrive,” Tester said. “Whether it’s watering our fields or providing drinking water to our homes and schools, Montanans need clean water. This authorization is the first step to delivering safe water for our rural communities.”

“If I told you that 22,500 Montanans lacked steady safe drinking water you would be angry,” Daines stated. “Water is a basic need of life: we depend on a steady supply to irrigate our crops, water our livestock and provide energy through hydropower and that’s why we need to roll up our sleeves and pass this bill.”

Monty L. Sealey, Project Administrator Central Montana Regional Water Authority, Musselshell-Judith Rural Water System: “The Central Montana Regional Water Authority Board of Directors is grateful for the assistance of our Senators in Washington; as this legislation is essential to the success of our Musselshell-Judith Rural Water System. We look forward to this bill becoming law.”

Jerry Meissner, Chairman, Dry-Redwater Regional Water Authority (DRWA): “Good health starts with clean water. Eastern Montana water quality is below average health standards and we need Senator Daines and Senator Tester speaking for us in Washington every day.”

Though several rural water projects have already received Congressional authorization, they struggle to receive the funds needed to complete construction in a timely and efficient manner. Between 1980 and 2007, Congress directed the Bureau to undertake 11 specific rural water supply projects, some of which remain uncompleted. There currently is no predictable funding for the remaining projects, because construction funding must be secured annually through the appropriations process and there is a significant backlog in construction funding for these projects.