Sending Office: Honorable Colleen Hanabusa
Sent By:
Elizabeth.Songvilay@mail.house.gov

        Request for Signature(s)

Support Funding for Small and Rural Water Projects

FY 19 Programmatic Requests

Endorsing Organization: Rural Water Association

DEADLINE: COB March 12

FY19 cosigners (72): Hanabusa, Katko, Adams, Bordallo, Bergman,
Blunt RochesterBustosButterfieldCapuano, Cheney, Cleaver, Clyburn, Collins, Connolly, Costa, Crawford, DeFazio, DeGette, DelBene, DeSaulnier, Ellison, Faso, Gabbard, Garamendi,
Gottheimer, 
Graves, Gutierrez, HarperHartzler, Hastings, Heck, Jones, Jackson Lee, Kelly, Kennedy, Kihuen, Kildee, Kind, Kuster, Larsen, LawrenceLawson, LoBiondo, Loebsack, Luján, Lujan Grisham,
Lynch, Sean Patrick Maloney, McGovern, McNerney, 
McKinley, Moore, Moulton, Nolan, O’Halleran, Payne, Collin Peterson, Raskin, Rosen, Rouzer, Sablan, Bobby Scott, Sewell, Shea-Porter, Soto, Tenney, Bennie Thompson, Tonko, Tsongas,
Vela, Walz, Welch

FY18 Ag letter cosigners: Hanabusa, Katko, Adams, Blunt Rochester, Bluemenaur, Bordallo, Bustos, Butterfield, Chaffetz, Cheney, Cleaver, Clyburn, Chris Collins, Cramer, Crawford, DelBene, DeSaulnier,
Dingell, Ellison, 
Faso, Gabbard, Garamendi, Gottheimer, Graves, Hartzler, Hastings, Heck, Jones, Keating, Kelly, Kennedy, Kihuen, Kildee, Kind, Kuster, Larsen, Lawrence, Loebsack, Lujan Grisham, Maloney, McGovern, McKinley, Moulton, Neal, O’Halleran,
Peterson, Plaskett, Bobby Scott, Shea-Porter, Speier, Soto,
 Raskin, Richmond, Rouzer, Sablan, Sewell, Tenney, Tonko, Tsongas, Welch, Walz, Vela

 

Dear Colleague:

Please join us in urging the Agriculture and Interior Appropriations Subcommittees to include robust funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Water and Sewer Loan and Grant program, the Circuit Rider program, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) Grassroots
Source Water Protection program, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – Safe Drinking Water Act technical assistance in their FY 2019 appropriations bill.

Small and rural communities have an important public responsibility of complying with all applicable federal Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act regulations in order to supply the public with safe drinking water and sanitation.  Most U.S. water utilities
are small; over 91 percent of the country’s 50,259 drinking water systems serve communities with fewer than 10,000 people and approximately 80 percent of the country’s over 16,000 wastewater systems serve fewer than 10,000 people. 

Unfortunately, due to limited economies of scale and lack of technical expertise, small and rural communities often have difficulty complying with federal mandates.  USDA’s Water and Sewer Loan and Grant, Circuit Rider, FSA Grassroots Source Water Protection,
and EPA technical assistance programs are essential in helping small and rural communities overcome their limitations in providing safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation.

Please join us in signing onto two letters (text below) by contacting Elizabeth Songvilay on Rep. Hanabusa’s staff at Elizabeth.Songvilay@mail.house.gov or Jennifer Wood on Rep. Katko’s staff
at Jennifer.Wood@mail.house.gov.  Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

Colleen Hanabusa                                                       John Katko
Member of Congress                                                   Member of Congress


Letter to the Agriculture Subcommittee:

Dear Chairman Aderholt and Ranking Member Bishop,

We would like to thank the Members of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee for their continued support of vital water infrastructure and technical assistance funding for rural and small communities through programs under the U.S. Department of Agriculture
(USDA).  As the subcommittee moves forward with the consideration of agriculture appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2019, we write to respectfully request the following funding levels:

            USDA Water and Sewer Loan and Grant program: at least $600 million
            USDA Circuit Rider program:  at least $18 million
            Farm Service Agency (FSA) Grassroots Source Water Protection program: at least $6.5 million

Small and rural communities have an important public responsibility of complying with all applicable federal Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act regulations in order to supply the public with safe drinking water and sanitation.  Most U.S. water utilities
are small; over 91 percent of the country’s 50,259 drinking water systems serve communities with fewer than 10,000 people and approximately 80 percent of the country’s over 16,000 wastewater systems serve fewer than 10,000 people.  Unfortunately, due to limited
economies of scale and lack of technical expertise, small and rural communities often have difficulty complying with federal mandates.  Collectively, the USDA Water and Sewer Loan and Grant program, the USDA Circuit Rider program and the FSA Grassroots Source
Water Protection program are essential in helping small and rural communities overcome their limitations in providing safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation.

The USDA Water and Sewer Loan and Grant program helps to construct water and wastewater infrastructure through grants and loans provided at reasonable rates and terms.  The current backlog for the USDA Water and Sewer Loan and Grant program is approximately
$3 billion.  This backlog represents small and rural community water infrastructure projects that are unable to access alternative sources of funding.  Without this assistance, many communities would not have the means to construct new water systems, expand
existing systems, or comply with federal mandates.  Thus, we respectfully urge the subcommittee to include $600 million in the FY 2018 appropriations for the USDA Water and Sewer Loan and Grant program to address the current USDA backlog.

The USDA Circuit Rider program is a hugely successful USDA local initiative that uses appropriated funds to provide the necessary technical expertise and training to rural communities.  This program provides the primary support for communities to operate
safe and clean drinking water systems and helps to ensure compliance with current water regulations.  Circuit riders are in the field every day helping these communities with water system compliance, operations, maintenance, management, and training.  This
assistance protects the federal government’s sizable investment in rural water infrastructure.  We respectfully request the USDA Circuit Rider program to be funded at a minimum of $18.0 million to continue maintaining the number of full-time employees necessary
to fulfill the important mission of this program.

The FSA Grassroots Source Water Protection Program provides our rural communities with the technical assistance necessary to improve water quality and provide safe drinking water.  The source water program provides each state with one full-time staff member
to coordinate and assist our rural communities in the implementation of source water protection plans.  Without adequate funding for the FSA Grassroots Source Water Protection program, water quality in rural communities across the nation will be at risk. 
Thus, we respectfully request that the subcommittee continue funding this program at $6.5 million.

State rural water associations have continually utilized the resources provided under these programs to serve millions of Americans across the nation, including the U.S. territories.  Failure to fund these programs at the requested levels will cause irreparable
and long lasting harm to community water systems throughout the U.S. and the Americans who rely upon them.  We appreciate your consideration and your immediate attention to these programs.


Letter to Interior Subcommittee:

Dear Chairman Calvert and Ranking Member McCollum,

We respectfully urge the subcommittee to fully fund the recently enacted Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act (Public Law 114-98) in the fiscal year (FY) 2019 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill at
$15 million.  The Act authorizes technical assistance for communities with small public water systems with compliance with federal regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Over the last six fiscal years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reduced the level of on-site assistance available to small public water systems.  The Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act’s “preference” provision
corrects this problem by requiring that EPA follow Congressional intent and use appropriated funds for water systems assistance that will be most helpful for small and rural communities. 

Most U.S. water utilities are small; over 91 percent of the country’s 50,259 drinking water systems serve communities with fewer than 10,000 persons.  These communities, many of which are small and rural communities, often have difficulty providing safe
and affordable drinking and water and sanitation due to limited economies of scale and lack of technical expertise. 

The type of assistance authorized under the Act is on-site services provided by circuit rider-type technicians or technicians who can provide in-field services shared within a state.  The circuit rider concept was designed by Congress to allow small communities
access to technical expertise that is available to larger communities.  Each community’s water infrastructure is unique, which means technical assistance must be available to address a community’s particular problem. 

These small public water systems and the community they serve rely on on-site technical assistance for meeting federal training regulations, complying with EPA regulations, navigating EPA fines, and operating their drinking water utilities.  Of the billions
of dollars provided to EPA by Congress each year, smaller communities who lack access or resources to obtain this kind of technical expertise will tell you the most benefit comes from the dollars provided to on-site technical assistance provided by circuit
riders.  In addition, the value of this funding is amplified as these staff members often educate and train others to maintain these water systems. 

All communities want to ensure quality water and stay in compliance, and this is more easily achieved with the necessary technical resources that this funding would provide communities with small public water systems.  Some communities have just one person
available to provide this technical assistance, so this funding is critical in ensuring access to safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation.

We appreciate your consideration.

Related Legislative Issues

Selected legislative information:Agriculture, Appropriations, Consumer Affairs, Economy, Environment, HealthCare, Natural Resources, Science

icon eDC logo e-Dear Colleague version 2.0