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By Mr. JOHNSON of South Dakota:
S. 3464. A bill to amend the Mni Wiconi Project Act of 1988 to facilitate completion of the Mni Wiconi Rural Water Supply System, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Mr. JOHNSON of South Dakota. Mr. President, today I introduced legislation to facilitate completion of the Mni Wiconi Rural Water System. The Mni Wiconi Project provides quality drinking water to three Indian Reservations and a non-tribal rural water system in western South Dakota that have historically faced insufficient and, in too many cases, unsafe drinking water.
I have been involved with this project for the entirety of my 25 year congressional career, including sponsoring authorizing legislation that was ultimately enacted in 1988. In authorizing the project, 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. With treated drinking water from the Missouri River now reaching most of the three reservations, as well as the 7 county area of the West River/Lyman-Jones Rural Water System, we are very close to completing this critically important project.
Unfortunately, appropriations have failed to keep pace with projected timelines, and additional costs have cut into construction funding. Accordingly, the project requires an increase in the cost ceiling and extension of its authorization in order to be completed and serve the design population. Without an adjustment to the cost ceiling, 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 other important aspects of the project. The legislation 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 tremendous need for adequate and safe drinking water supplies on the Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Lower Brule Indian Reservations remains as important today as it was 25 years ago. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this modest but important legislation.