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Rural water development for marginal regions with a case study of South Dakota's Mni Wiconi Project

Cody L Knutson, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Since the 1930s, the federal government has played an increasing role in rural water development to assist in meeting the domestic water needs of rural America. Federal agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Indian Health Service have provided billions of dollars in grants and loans to rural individuals and communities for the construction of rural water systems. Despite this assistance, people in some rural areas still lack adequate quantities of quality water, in part, because their proposed water projects have been unable to meet the eligibility criteria of traditional federal funding programs. Beginning in 1980, the U.S. Congress has provided direct authorization and funding for the development of eleven major rural water projects in the western United States in an attempt to address the needs of these marginalized populations. One of the first and largest of the individual projects is the Mni Wiconi Rural Water Supply System in South Dakota. However, because of concerns over the manner in which these projects have been authorized and funded, Congress introduced four bills during 2003–2004 to formulate a new rural water program within the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. ^ In order to provide recommendations for future rural water development, this study presents a historical account of U.S. rural water development, an analysis of rural water projects authorized by Congress (including an in-depth case study of the Mni Wiconi Project), and proposals calling for a new rural water program. It is argued in this study that both historical precedents and contemporary concerns should be addressed in developing a new rural water program. Collaborative policy-making and a balance between local, tribal, state, and federal needs must be achieved in order to fulfill rural America's right to good, clean water. ^

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Knutson, Cody L, "Rural water development for marginal regions with a case study of South Dakota's Mni Wiconi Project" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3159549.