Daines Introduces Rural Water Projects Legislation

U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senator Steve Daines today introduced legislation that would move Montana rural water projects forward and ensure the completion of authorized projects across Montana.

The Western Water Supply and Planning Enhancement Act is a bill that would help improve the efficiency of existing water supply infrastructure, ease the regulatory burden on new projects and protect water rights that are critical to the prosperity of the western United States. 

The bill also accelerates implementation of Montana-made forest management projects that enhance watersheds and reduce the risk of wildfires. 

“If I told you that today, over 22,000 Montanans lack access to a steady supply of water, you’d be angry,” Daines stated. “That’s why I introduced legislation that will provide a steady supply of water supply to irrigate our crops, water our livestock and generate clean energy through hydropower.” 

Daines also sent a letter today to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) requesting a committee hearing on the bill. The signed copy of the letter can be viewed here. 

The legislation includes Daines’ bill S. 1552, the Clean Water for Rural Communities Act. It authorizes two Bureau of Reclamation rural water projects—Dry-Redwater Rural Water System and Musselshell-Judith Rural Water System.  Daines’ bill received its first Senate hearing on June 18, 2015.  

Daines’ bill will collectively facilitate water treatment and delivery to 22,500 residents in Dawson, Garfield, McCone, Prairie, Richland, Judith Basin, Wheatland, Golden Valley, Fergus, Yellowstone, and Musselshell Counties in Montana and McKenzie County, North Dakota.   

The Western Water Supply and Planning Enhancement Act also includes the IRRIGATE Act, which Daines introduced last year. The IRRIGATE Act would create an Indian Irrigation Fund that would help facilitate irrigation projects, particularly those with deferred maintenance, throughout Indian Country.