Rural Water Problems:

An Overview

CED-80-120: Published: Aug 19, 1980. Publicly Released: Aug 19, 1980.

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An overview is presented of the difficulties faced by 28 rural communities in 10 States in obtaining drinking water. Many existing central water systems have deteriorated and need to be repaired or replaced. Other systems need to be expanded. In some areas, additional systems need to be developed. Water shortages have prevented the development or expansion of some central systems, but the most important factor inhibiting the development, expansion, repair, and replacement of central systems is the lack of funds. While both Federal and State Governments provide financial aid for rural central water systems, rural needs are greater than the funds available. Nationally, the United States has an ample supply of water, but regional and local shortages exist because of intensive use and competition, lack of developed water supply facilities, financial difficulties, and water scarcity. The full extent of rural water development problems or the cost of solving them is not really known. Federal efforts currently being made to improve water management programs include two Federal studies to be completed in the fall of 1980. Additionally, efforts have been initiated that include making Federal programs more accessible and better suited to rural communities, improving coordination of the various Federal programs, and further stretching limited budgets. GAO raised the following questions for consideration by Federal and State agencies in the planning and administration of rural water development: (1) should the Federal Government take a more active role in rural water management; (2) should the Farmers Home Administration revise its loan program; (3) should the Federal Government require greater State participation in refinancing rural water systems; (4) should Federal rural water developmental efforts and programs be consolidated under one agency; and (5) what additional role, if any, can the Federal Government play in developing water supply facilities, particularly in water-short areas?

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