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Skelton asks how to help communities provide residents safe drinking water
Skelton asks how to help communities provide residents safe drinking water

Congressman Ike Skelton
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 21, 2009) — Most Americans take for granted that the water coming out of the tap is clean and safe to drink. However, many communities, particularly rural communities, work very hard and often struggle to make sure that their water systems meet safety standards and comply with federal regulations.

Because of limited budgets and lack of technical expertise, small towns and rural communities frequently have great difficultly providing safe and affordable public drinking water and waste disposal services. The experience of dealing with these challenges has shown that one of the most cost-effective ways to improve and protect drinking water and waste water quality in rural areas is through technical assistance and compliance training.

Federal funding for technical assistance and compliance training allows small systems to access the technical resources needed to operate and maintain water infrastructure and treatment. So, I was, of course, pleased to cosponsor H.R. 2206, the Rural Water Technical Assistance Act. This bipartisan legislation would reauthorize the Safe Drinking Water Act’s technical assistance and compliance training provision for five years. Small towns and rural communities want to ensure quality water for their residents and want to stay in compliance with federal regulations. The Rural Water Technical Assistance Act would provide them the technical resources to do so. H.R. 2206 was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Technical assistance and compliance training programs provide real benefits for Missouri communities. Dozens of towns in the Fourth Congressional District have received technical assistance to help with wastewater plant operations, identify leaks, conduct diagnostic tests, and provide expert advice on water issues. Federal funding for technical assistance and compliance training allows these communities to receive prompt assistance from trained professionals at little or no cost. Communities can save thousands of dollars by utilizing these services, which makes a big difference to the tight budgets of small towns in Missouri and throughout the nation. Those savings are particularly important in today’s economy.

In order to make sure that small towns and rural America continue to receive the help it needs to protect public health, meet environmental requirements, and comply with federal regulations, I am hopeful that the House Committee on Energy and Commerce will act quickly on the Rural Water Technical Assistance Act and send it to the House floor for consideration. These programs have a proven track record of success and pay big dividends for rural water quality.

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at http://www.house.gov/skelton.

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