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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release July 13, 1998
                   COMMUNITIES WILL GET $155 MILLION 

Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore announced today that 87 rural communities in 38 states and Puerto Rico will get $155.8 million in federal funds to upgrade the quality, accessibility, and dependability of their drinking water.

"Safe, reliable drinking water is more than a matter of convenience," said the Vice President, who announced the combination of grants and loans that will be distributed under the Administration's Water 2000 Initiative. "It's critical to public health and economic development. Through Water 2000, we are helping to build and upgrade the basic infrastructure needed to sustain rural communities."

The federal funding announced by the Vice President will trigger another $56.5 million that local water districts, county governments, state agencies, and other federal sources will provide.

The Vice President was joined by Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and Carole Buckland from Binghamton, New York who wrote to President Clinton to seek federal help to improve the quality of her local drinking water. Binghamton will get over $1.3 million of the funds announced today.

"This Administration is determined to take on the challenges facing rural America, including expanding access to safe, clean water," Glickman said.

At least 2.2 million rural Americans live with critical quality and accessibility problems with their drinking water, including an estimated 730,000 people who have no running water in their homes. About five million more rural residents are affected by less critical, but still significant, water problems, as defined by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. These problems include undersized or poorly protected water sources, a lack of adequate storage facilities, and antiquated distribution systems.

Young children and the elderly are at particular risk from illnesses caused by unsafe, unclean drinking water. And towns without dependable community water systems cannot adequately protect themselves from the hazards of fire.

Launched by the Administration in 1994, the Water 2000 Initiative helps upgrade and expand drinking water service in rural communities plagued by some of the nation's worst water quality, quantity, and dependability problems. Water 2000 has already improved drinking water quality or provided a public water supply for the first time to some 2.5 million people in over 1,300 rural communities nationwide.