The 2018 Farm Bill, also referred to as the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, passed with overwhelming bipartisan and bicameral support. Congress recognized that local decision making for community water supplies is a necessary ingredient in determining their future.
With input on specific issues from a broad spectrum of organizations and entities, the Farm Bill process is complex. One of the contested issues was the sustainability of rural community water supplies around the nation. Some entities, many times for self-serving purposes, promoted forced consolidation that were primarily directed at rural America. The National Rural Water Association (NRWA) with over 31,000 members, has always supported consolidation when the decision is made at the local level after consideration of all options to enhance long term sustainability.
In addressing this issue within the Farm Bill, the following language, promoted by NRWA, was included in relation to sustainability issues within a rural or small water and/or wastewater facility: ‘‘(iv) identify options to enhance the long-term sustainability of rural water and waste systems, including operational practices, revenue enhancements, partnerships, consolidation, regionalization, or contract services;”
This provision in the Farm Bill will allow the agency to support third- party entities without financial stake in the outcome to review all available financial and operations options to make a sound fiscal and policy decisions. This will result in the best long-term interest of the community and their customers. We applaud Congress and the President for supporting this effort.