U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) have introduced legislation to assist rural and small communities with the challenge of complying with federal "safe drinking water" regulations.
The bipartisan bill, "Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act," S. 816, reauthorizes the "Safe Drinking Water Act's" (SDWA) assistance and training provision to provide competitive grants to assist small communities across the country.
"Small, rural communities in Mississippi often face significant challenges in complying with federal safe drinking water regulations," said Wicker. "The costs associated with meeting these mandates are burdensome, and access to technical experts is difficult to obtain. This bill will help level the playing field for our communities and ensure families in Mississippi continue to receive clean water."
"Communities across North Dakota work tirelessly to provide safe, clean water to residents. It is important that we provide them with technical assistance, so that we can ensure that North Dakotans have access to clean water and that our small towns comply with federal standards," said Heitkamp.
More than 50,000 small and rural communities, comprising more than 90 percent of the drinking water supplies in the country, are responsible for providing safe, clean water to their citizens. The Environmental Protection Agency's technical assistance and training provision, which has been operating nationwide for the past three decades, assists these communities in securing the necessary technical expertise to improve and protect their water resources. This initiative has been effective in ensuring successful implementation of SDWA in rural areas. In 2012, more than 20,000 communities received technical assistance or training.
The bill is cosponsored by Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Max Baucus (D-Mont.).
The Senate legislation is a companion bill to H.R. 654, introduced by Congressman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.).