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Washington, DC —  Senator John Thune today sent a letter to White House Office of Management and Budget Director Rob Portman requesting that the Administration include $35 million in funding for the Lewis and Clark Rural Water Project as it finalizes the fiscal year 2008 budget, which will be submitted to Congress in early February:

"I'm hopeful the White House will honor my request and include this necessary and overdue funding so the Lewis and Clark water project can be completed and a safe and reliable water supply secured for thousands of South Dakotans. I understand the budget for the coming year will be considerably leaner, but increased funding for this project is a top priority for South Dakotans," Thune said. "Senator Johnson and I have consistently pushed for increased Lewis and Clark funding and I'm confident he will join me in supporting this request upon recovery."

A copy of the letter is below.

January 5,2007

The Honorable Rob Portman
Office of Management and Budget
Old Executive Office Building
Washington, DC 20503

Director Portman:
I am writing to ask for your support of the Lewis and Clark Rural Water Project. This project, when complete, will provide safe, reliable drinking water to citizens in South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. As you complete the Administration's fiscal year 2008 budget for submission to Congress, I urge you to include $35 million in the Department of Interior's Bureau of Reclamation budget for construction of the Lewis and Clark project.

When completed, Lewis and Clark will provide safe, reliable drinking water to approximately 200,000 people and 20 communities and water districts in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa. The three states involved in the project face regional water problems, including shallow wells, aquifers prone to contamination, compliance with federal drinking water standards, and increasing water demand due to population growth and economic expansion. Lewis and Clark represents a unique regional approach to these common water resource problems in a more effective and cost-efficient manner than each state could accomplish alone.

While the Fiscal Year 2007 House Energy and Water Appropriations bill included $22 million and the Senate bill included $23.5, these numbers will obviously not be realized until Congress acts on the bill. Thus, it is even more important that full funding be provided in the President's upcoming budget for fiscal year 2008.

Additionally, my colleague, Senator Tim Johnson, has been a strong supporter of the Lewis & Clark Rural Water Project since its inception, and I have every confidence he will join me in our strong support of the project and this request upon his recovery from his recent hospitalization.

I appreciate your assistance in this matter and look forward to continuing to work closely with you
and your office.

Kindest Regards,

John Thune
United States Senator