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Washington, DC —  Senator John Thune sent a letter to the Acting Secretary of the Department of the Interior expressing his support for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for $1 million. This funding would be used for a critically needed access road, which leads to a new emergency water intake being constructed on the Missouri River. Due to the persistent drought in our state, a new water intake that is located in deeper water is necessary to ensure that 14,000 South Dakota residents will continue to have drinking water. If the BIA contributes the requested $1 million, the Tribe will have reached the goal of raising $16 million to pay for the project, a significant accomplishment.

The following are excerpts from Senator Thune's letter:

"This new intake, when completed, will tremendously improve the Tribe's drinking water supply. However, in order for the construction of this intake to be completed, it is necessary that improvements to the road be made.

"Once the construction of the water intake is completed, the improvement of this road will also ensure that the water intake can continue to be maintained. In addition to allowing fishing access to the river, the improvements of this road will also serve existing home sites and landowners in the area, and will allow installation of new power lines that will require continued maintenance."

Since March of 2005, Senator Thune has worked closely with the South Dakota congressional delegation and top officials at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the need for a new water intake. As a result of those efforts, Senator Thune worked to secure $8.45 million in emergency funding from the Army Corps and the Tribe has worked with other federal agencies and the Governor's office to secure $6.55 million towards the project's $16 million cost. Currently, Phase 1 of the intake project is underway and if the remaining $1 million is secured, the new water intake should be operational by the end of the summer or early fall.