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Mr. JOHNSON of South Dakota. Mr. President, today I am introducing the Mni Wiconi Project Act Amendments of 2013 to facilitate completion of a rural water supply system that was first authorized in the 100th Congress. As a freshman Member of the House of Representatives, I introduced legislation authorizing construction of the Mni Wiconi Project to bring quality, treated Missouri River water to several Indian reservations and a large, rural area of my State. Prior to Mni Wiconi, these areas faced insufficient and, too often, unsafe drinking water.
In the authorizing statute, Congress found that the United States has a trust responsibility to ensure that adequate and safe water supplies are available to meet the economic, environmental, water supply, and public health needs of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Rosebud Indian Reservation, and Lower Brule Indian Reservation. Treated drinking water from the Missouri River now reaches most areas on these three reservations, as well as the 7 county area of the West River/Lyman-Jones Rural Water System.
Nearly 25 years after it was first authorized, this critically important project is very close to completion. Because appropriations failed to keep pace with projected timelines, however, additional administrative costs have cut into construction funding. As a result, the project needs an increase in the cost ceiling and extension of its authorization in order to be completed. Without these adjustments, some portions of the Oglala Sioux Rural Water Supply System and Rosebud Sioux Rural Water System will remain incomplete. The legislation I have introduced today addresses this shortfall and also directs other Federal agencies that support rural water development to assist the Bureau of Reclamation in improving and repairing existing community water systems that are important components of the project.
Our Federal responsibility to address the need for adequate and safe drinking water supplies on the Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Lower Brule Indian Reservations remains as important as ever. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this legislation.
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