Tester adds clean water assistance for rural communities to Farm Bill

Fate of Montanans’ clean water now lies with the House

(U.S. SENATE) – A provision supported by Senator Jon Tester to improve water infrastructure in Montana’s rural communities is now at the mercy of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The amendment to the recently passed Farm Bill helps rural communities provide rural residents with clean water by providing grants for infrastructure upgrades.  The assistance will allow communities to meet the demand for safe and affordable water in towns across Montana.

More than 50,000 small communities nationwide are responsible for providing clean water, but many face difficulty securing the support needed to meet safe drinking water standards. 

Tester, a long-time supporter of clean water assistance for rural Montana communities, said clean water helps families stay healthy and allows local businesses to grow.

“When Montanans turn on the tap, they expect and deserve clean, safe water,” said Tester, who recently introduced a bipartisan bill to assist small, rural water systems.  “Clean water is critical for economic growth and helping Montanans lead their daily lives.  The House needs to get this done for our towns across rural Montana.”

Eight new water projects were funded by the Agriculture Department’s Rural Development office in 2011, including projects in Froid, Gallatin Gateway, Lodge Grass, Lame Deer, and Libby.

In addition to investing $50 million for clean water through the Rural Development office, the Tester-backed amendment also supports the future of Montana agriculture by investing in education, extension, outreach and technical assistance initiatives that help farmers and ranchers just getting started in agriculture.

Butte’s National Center for Appropriate Technology, the National Farmers Union, and the National Rural Water Association are among the organizations supporting the amendment.

The bipartisan Farm Bill, which reauthorized various food and farm initiatives for five years, passed the Senate by a vote of 64 to 35.  Tester said it “preserves a strong safety net for farmers while making long-needed reforms that save taxpayers money.” 

The bill now awaits a vote in the House of Representatives, along with the Senate’s bipartisan transportation and postal reform bills.

Tester’s Farm Bill amendment supporting clean rural water is available online HERE.