Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senators Johnson and Thune today announced a provision that was included in comprehensive water resources legislation that would help expand the water system that serves the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation and surrounding areas. The Water Resources Development Act of 2007 is a comprehensive water resources bill which includes several provisions that will be particularly beneficial to South Dakota. The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 81 to 12.

The legislation authorizes $65 million for water related infrastructure to upgrade the Mni Waste Rural and Municipal Water System which serves the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and 14,000 people in four South Dakota counties. For years, an antiquated and severely undersized water system has limited economic development opportunities for the thousands of residents living on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and surrounding counties. Exacerbating the situation is a multi-year drought causing an acute water supply crisis and prompting the Tribe to seek U.S. Corps of Engineers emergency assistance to relocate the water intake from the Cheyenne River into the mainstream of the Missouri River.

"Clean drinking water is crucial to not only the health of people, but to the economic opportunities and future growth of the region. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Water and Power, I am pleased we could include this provision for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe," Johnson said. "Overall, the water management initiatives in the bill will do a great deal to improve the ecology of the Missouri River in South Dakota."

"The multi-year drought affecting all of South Dakota is having an especially severe impact on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and others in the region. This authorization for the Mni Waste Water System will help to address the critical water needs for thousands of South Dakotans," said Thune. "This legislation also includes additional provisions that I advocated last Congress as a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee which will help us harness, protect and improve the Missouri River for future generations."

"This is great news, the severe limitations of our present water system have basically created a moratorium on new home construction and have hurt business and ranchers. Last weekend's breakdown at our treatment plant is just the most recent example of how much our system is in need of replacement," said Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chairman Joseph Brings Plenty. "The whole South Dakota delegation has worked very closely with the Tribe and our Housing Authority on this and we appreciate their efforts to address this critical infrastructure problem."

The House of Representatives passed the bill on August 1st by a vote of 381 - 40. The bill now goes to the President for his signature.