Congressman John Shimkus of the local 15th congressional district led the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act. The bill, which was passed Monday, helps smaller and rural communities deal with the technical and financial challenges of regulations under the Safe Water Drinking Act.
“A major source of financial stress for small and rural drinking water supply systems is compliance with a number of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations,” Shimkus explained. “These communities depend heavily on federal and state grants, as well as subsidized loan programs, to finance their needs.”
He explained though that many times simply giving communities more money is not the answer. Shimkus said some communities may need access to technical professionals to help find the most cost-effective way to comply with EPA standards. “Technical assistance offered by EPA allows small, public water authorities to identify affordable repair and replacement options for their systems,” he said.
The bill authorizes the EPA’s technical assistance program through 2020 for small, public water systems and maintains the existing annual funding level of $15 million. It also authorizes funding used by non-profit organizations to provide technical assistance to small, public water systems.
The legislation unanimously passed the Senate this summer and will now go to President Obama for his signature to become law.