The National Rural Water Association's 31,000 water and wastewater system members would like to thank Chairman Roberts, Chairman Conaway, Ranking Member Stabenow, Ranking Member Peterson and their staffs for crafting the 2018 Agriculture Improvement Act (HR 2). Rural and small communities owe a great debt of gratitude to you for your recognition and support of water infrastructure investments that are specifically targeted to communities with populations less than 10,000 persons. The increases in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Water and Wastewater loan and grant program will provide for the necessary resources to address critical rural water infrastructure projects. In addition, increasing the Circuit Rider technical assistance initiative, restoring the grassroots source water protection program and including wastewater technical assistance will allow for uninterrupted water and sanitation service to water utilities in small and rural communities across the country. No community can prosper or be sustainable without reliable and affordable water and wastewater service. With this investment, rural and small town America will be much stronger.
For over 70 years, Congress has authorized and strengthened USDA’s rural water initiatives which have made great advancements in the standard of living in rural America. Small and rural communities primarily rely on the USDA’s Rural Development Water and Waste Water Programs as the affordable choice to finance their utilities. Most U.S. water utilities are small; over 91% of the country’s approximately 50,000 drinking water systems serve communities with fewer than 10,000 people and approximately 80% of the country’s 16,000 wastewater systems serve fewer than 10,000 people. The rural water infrastructure provisions included in HR 2 will continue to be the engine of economic development and agricultural-related advances in rural communities. We commend Congress for yet again providing dramatic improvements to the quality of life, the environment and public health in rural America. NRWA has a long-standing, productive and successful relationship with the US Department of Agriculture and looks forward continuing to work together to benefit rural America and its residents.
HR 2 passed the Senate late last night 87-13 and the House this afternoon 369-47. The legislation now heads down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House for the President's signature- which is likely.