U.S. Representative Kristi Noem today applauded a new agreement on the Water Resources and Reform Development Act (WRRDA).  The agreement between leaders in the House and Senate includes a provision championed in the House by Noem that aims to improve communication between the Army Corps of Engineers and the public as well as a 10-year prohibition on the Army Corps of Engineers’ proposal to charge South Dakotans and others for surplus water taken from Missouri River reservoirs – a provision Noem championed in the House.

“I’ll never forget the fear many people had when I was sandbagging in Pierre a few years ago because they just didn’t see it coming,” said Rep. Noem. “I’m proud the new agreement includes a provision I wrote to improve communications between the Army Corps of Engineers and the public.  This way, when the Corps knows, you should know.”

During the 2011 flood, Rep. Noem hosted current Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, who has jurisdiction over water policies like this, in Pierre to show him the damage and to seek his assistance in addressing this issue.  Rep. Noem first introduced the Army Corps of Engineers Communications Accountability Act in May 2012.  She reintroduced the legislation in 2013 and continued her work with the House Transportation Committee to include the language in the WRRDA bill.

In addition to her work on Army Corps communications practices, Rep. Noem championed a provision to stop the Corps from taxing South Dakotans to use their own surplus water.  Noem has been extremely active on this issue over the last few years.  In August 2012, the Congresswoman attended and spoke up against the fee at an Army Corps of Engineers’ forum in Pierre (read more on her remarks here).  Additionally, Noem had an amendment included in the FY2014 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which passed the House, and introduced H.R. 2741 – a broader policy proposal to address the issue.

“It’s unacceptable that the federal government is trying to come into South Dakota and charge residents for the water that exists on our lands.  They have no authority to do that,” said Rep. Noem. “I’m proud to have championed a provision to make sure South Dakotans are not charged for water that is rightfully ours.  I strongly urge both the House and the Senate to take up this final agreement quickly and put it on the President’s desk for his signature.”

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