Bureau Outlines Criteria for Rural Water Program

The Bureau of Reclamation has published the interim final rule which establishes the criteria for the Rural Water Supply Program, a new program at the agency. The Rural Water Supply Act of 2006 authorizes the bureau to participate in projects to develop and deliver potable water supplies to rural communities in the Western United States.

Rural water supply projects are designed to serve a community or group of communities, including Indian tribes and tribal organizations, each of which has a population of no more than 50,000 people, with domestic, industrial, municipal, and residential water.

Under the Program, states, Indian tribes and entities, created under state law, with water management authority can seek financial and technical assistance to undertake appraisal investigations and feasibility studies to explore potable water supply needs and options for addressing those needs.

While the act provides the bureau with the authority to undertake appraisal investigations and feasibility studies, it does not provide authority to undertake the construction of water delivery facilities recommended for development under the program. Those require a specific act of Congress.

The bureau is seeking comments on the rule by Jan. 16, 2009 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Since the rule was published as an Interim Final Rule, it becomes effective on Dec. 17, 2008.

To submit a comment, go to www.regulations.gov and search the docket identification number BOR-2008-0002 and follow the instructions for submitting a comment. You may also submit by mail to the Bureau of Reclamation, Denver Federal Center, P.O. Box 25007, Building 67, Denver, CO 80225, Attention: Avra Morgan, Mail Code 84-52000.