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Federal budget includes more money for rural water program

TEA, S.D. — With House passage Tuesday and Senate passage Thursday, Congress approved the FY20 budget, which includes an additional $117.4 million for the Bureau of Reclamation’s (BoR) Rural Water Program.

This is $18.6 million more than Congress approved last year. When combined with the slight funding increase proposed by the administration, it brings overall FY20 funding for the Rural Water Program to $132 million; a $19.5 million increase compared to FY19.

Because of the earmark ban, it is now up to BoR to determine how to allocate the additional funding among five authorized rural water projects, including Lewis & Clark. It is anticipated Lewis & Clark will receive roughly the same percentage of the additional funding as last year, which would bring the project’s FY20 funding to approximately $18 million. That compares to $15 million in FY19.

An announcement from BoR on the allocation of funds is expected sometime between mid-January and early February.

“We are not going to count our chickens before they hatch, but the increased funding for the Rural Water Program should provide a big lift for Lewis & Clark as we keep construction moving forward,” said Lewis & Clark Regional Water System Executive Director Troy Larson. “A big thank you to the tri-state congressional delegation for their continued strong support and leadership! We would not be where we are today without them.

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“Thanks as well to our great partners at the Bureau of Reclamation,” he added.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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