Wicker’s Rural Water Bill Receives Hearing

Legislation Aims to Help Small Communities Comply With Federal Wastewater Standards

WASHINGTON – A bill authored by U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., was the focus of a legislative hearing conducted today by the Senate Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife. Wicker’s legislation, S. 518, would establish a “Clean Water Act” technical assistance and training program to assist small public wastewater treatment systems, those serving not more than 10,000 people, in complying with federal standards.

“For many small and rural communities, addressing local water needs and complying with federal water standards is not easy,” Wicker said. “These services are central to safeguarding public health and improving residents’ quality of life – not to mention providing long-term economic development. The goal of my bipartisan legislation is simple, and it builds on the success of legislation I authored last Congress. My bill would provide technical assistance grants to small wastewater treatment facilities that need a little additional help.”

Specifically, the proposal would authorize $15 million a year over five years for technical assistance, involving “circuit riders,” to deal with the operation and maintenance of small wastewater utilities and compliance for permits. Circuit riders are technicians who travel to small communities facing wastewater issues. They can also assist small communities in completing all the paperwork for funding programs, including state revolving funds.

Wicker’s legislation would also authorize states administering the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to allocate up to two percent of their state grant to fund technical assistance initiatives to small wastewater treatment works.