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Rural Water Projects

Contact: Dan DuBray, (202) 513-0574


Current data indicates that millions of Americans still live without safe drinking water. Congress has specifically authorized Reclamation to undertake the design and construction of six projects intended to deliver potable water supplies to specific rural communities in the West. The projects that benefit tribal nations include, the rural water component of the Pick Sloan-Missouri Basin Program - Garrison Diversion Unit (North Dakota), Fort Peck Reservation/Dry Prairie Rural Water System (Montana), Jicarilla Apache Rural Water System (New Mexico), and Rocky Boy’s/North Central Rural Water System (Montana). The Mni Wiconi Project (South Dakota) is not listed as one of the six, because funding is only sought for operation and maintenance of tribal features following completion of construction. Other rural water projects include: Lewis and Clark Rural Water System (South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa), and Eastern New Mexico Water Supply (New Mexico).

Reclamation has been working diligently to continue progress on all of its authorized rural water projects consistent with current fiscal and resource constraints with the goal of delivering potable water to tribal and non-tribal residents within the rural water project areas.

Allocating resources for rural water projects involves funding for operation and maintenance (O&M) of the completed tribal features and progress on the unfinished construction projects. The first priority for funding rural water projects is providing sufficient funding for meeting the statutorily required tribal O&M component. Reclamation then allocated the funding for the FY 2016 rural water construction dollars using the Prioritization Criteria for Funding Rural Water Construction. The prioritization criteria include the following categories: 1) financial resources committed; 2) urgent and compelling need; 3) financial need and regional economic impacts; 4) regional and watershed nature; 5) meeting water, energy and other priority objectives; and 6) serving Native Americans. In addition, the process also took into consideration the ability of the projects to complete segments that would likely result in delivering potable water to their residents.


The FY 2016 Budget provides $36.6 million in funding for Reclamation’s Rural Water Projects. There are two components for rural water funding, construction and, where statutorily required, tribal operations and maintenance (O&M). This request includes $18.6 million for ongoing construction on authorized rural water construction projects. The total amount also includes $18.0 million for O&M of tribal features for two projects -- the Mni Wiconi Project and Garrison Diversion Unit. Funding in FY 2016 for the rural water projects is described below: