U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senator Steve Daines’ bill that moves Montana rural water projects forward and ensures the completion of authorized projects across Montana today cleared the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
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 driven forest management projects that enhance watersheds and reduce the risk of wildfires. This is critical for Montana as there are approximately 1,393 watersheds encompassed by at least 25 percent of National Forest lands in the state.
“If I told you that today, over 22,000 Montanans lack access to a steady supply of water, you’d be shocked,” Daines stated. “That’s why it was important to me to include measures that will improve the efficiency of existing water supply infrastructures and protect water rights in this bill.”
“Through the impeccable leadership of Senator Daines, Dry-Redwater is proud to announce we have made significant strides toward authorization to bring clean drinking water to Eastern Montana,” Jerry Meissner, Chairman, Dry-Redwater Regional Water Authority stated.
Daines introduced this bill on May 9, 2016 and subsequently requested a legislative hearing that occurred on May 16, 2016.
The legislation includes Daines’ bill S. 1552, the Clean Water for Rural Communities Act. It authorizes two Bureau of Reclamation rural water projects—the Dry-Redwater Rural Water System and the 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.