Republican News

Republican News

Washington, D.C. – Senate Energy & Natural Resources Chairman Pete V. Domenici today called on Congress to pass a bipartisan water bill he and Senator Jeff Bingaman authored that creates a new federal program designed to help rural communities, water associations and tribes provide the rural public with reliable water infrastructure.

 

Domenici and Bingaman in April introduced the Reclamation Rural Water Supply Act of 2005 (S.895.) The bill was developed in conjunction with the Administration to authorize the U.S. Department of the Interior, through the Bureau of Reclamation, to establish a program to plan, design and construct rural water supply projects. The bill incorporates the best ideas of three similar bills filed during the 108th Congress.

 

Domenici issued the following statement regarding rural America’s water challenges. The energy committee today held a hearing on S. 895 and the promise it offers rural America. The committee received testimony from representatives of rural water associations, tribes, small towns and the Administration.

 

Chairman Domenici issued the following statement following the hearing: 

 

“I consider it tragic that millions of Americans still live without safe drinking water in this day and age. This privation is unacceptable in a country of our wealth and resources.  This problem is especially prevalent in rural America where some small towns and counties can’t afford to build new or upgrade deteriorated water infrastructure. The USDA has estimated that more than 1 million people in the United States have no water piped into their homes, and more than 2.4 million have critical drinking water needs that are not being met.

 

In my state alone, the New Mexico Finance Authority estimates more than 100 rural communities don’t have sufficient water supply and water treatment facilities.

 

“While Congress has authorized various programs to address the problem over the past 30 years, there isn’t enough federal money in these programs to meet the great need in rural America. The EPA estimates that $75 billion needs to be spent on rural water systems around the country in the next 20 years to bring them up to current standards. Many areas of the country can’t afford the needed improvements.

 

“The bill I have written with Senator Bingaman establishes a federal loan guarantee program within the Bureau of Reclamation that would allow rural communities access to the money they need while respecting the limits of the Reclamation’s budget.  It also expedites the appraisal and feasibility studies which allow these communities to assess how best to address their water supply needs and act accordingly.”