Senate Agriculture Appropriations for FY 15 Includes Enhanced Water Funding

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its funding measure for FY 15 (S 2389/SRpt 113-164).  Of particular interest to state drinking water programs are funding included in three USDA program areas:  the Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Rural Utilities Service.  A thumbnail sketch of each follows:

  • The Farm Service Agency covers a range of programs including the Conservation Reserve Program and the Emergency Conservation Program.  The Senate Appropriations Committee supports funding the Farm Service Agency at $1.58 billion, including $6.5 million to support the work of state rural water organizations under the Grassroots Source Water Protection Program.
  • The Natural Resources Conservation Service works with conservation districts, watershed groups, and state agencies to conserve soil and water resources.  For FY 15, the Senate Appropriations Committee would fund this service at $849 million but would eliminate $12 million in separate funding for the watershed rehabilitation program.
  • The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) has long been the funding vehicle for assistance to and circuit riders for water and wastewater utilities.  This year is no different.  FY 15 funding approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee would provide $19 million for water and waste technical assistance and $15.9 million for the circuit rider program.  The RUS account would also provide $1 million for small water and waste revolving fund loans and $993,000 for water well system grants.

The House Appropriations Committee, as of this writing, is still working its way through the FY 15 funding plan for the Department of Agriculture.  ASDWA will continue to monitor progress for these programs.