Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  U.S. Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and John Thune (R-SD) today introduced the Mni Wiconi Rural Water System (RWS) Supply Extension Act to ensure the project is completed in the next five years. The authority to appropriate funds for the project expires on December 31, 2008 and the authorization needs to be extended to ensure completion of the entire system.

The South Dakota congressional delegation, the project sponsors, and the Bureau of Reclamation have agreed that based on average annual appropriations the project can be completed by 2013.

"When completed the project will provide safe, reliable drinking water to several South Dakota communities and Indian tribes and I am committed to seeing this vital project to completion. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I worked to include bill language in the Fiscal Year 2008 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill to extend the project deadline," Johnson said. "I am pleased to work with Senator Thune on this bill to pursue every route possible to make sure that this vital project stays on track to completion."

"South Dakota is suffering through a multi-year drought and the need for the Mni Wiconi system to be fully operational cannot be overstated," said Thune. "I look forward to working with Senator Johnson to see this vital project through to completion."

As Congress works to finish the budget, Senators Johnson and Thune chose to introduce this stand alone bill as they did last Congress, to ensure that the water system will reach completion.

The Mni Wiconi Rural Water System is a regional water system that when complete will serve approximately 51,000 South Dakotans over an area larger than the state of Connecticut. The project is approximately 70 percent complete and involves the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe and West River/Lyman Jones Rural Water System.

The water system was originally authorized in 1988 and already delivers clean and reliable drinking water to thousands of South Dakotans.