Congress Considers Major Water Efficiency Bills

Author: Bevan Griffiths-Sattenspiel

Thanks to the wonderful folks at the Alliance for Water Efficiency I learned this morning that Congress recently acted on major water efficiency legislation in the House and Senate, including the introduction of a new federal program that would provide $50 million dollars in funding for a water-efficiency and conservation rebate program.

As the Alliance for Water Efficiency explained in an email:

The Water Advanced Technologies for Efficient Resource Use Act was introduced by Reps. Holt (NJ) and Miller (CA) in the House on May 12, 2009, and provides for $50 million dollars in funding for state and local rebate and incentive programs that encourage the early adoption of water efficient products and services. Additionally, the bill authorizes WaterSense as a permanent EPA program, expands the scope of products covered under the program, and directs the federal government to purchase water efficient products and services. The bill, H.R. 2368, has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce as well as the Committees on Oversight and Government Reform and Armed Services.

The Water Infrastructure Financing Act, which passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on May 14, 2009 with overwhelming bipartisan support, contains authorization for EPA's WaterSense program and provides for up to $10 million dollars in funding for the program. In addition, the bill authorizes both the Clean Water and the Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRF), expanding eligibility for funding for storm water management projects, water efficiency or conservation projects and reuse and recycling projects. The bill, S. 1005, has been referred to the full Senate for action.

Over the last few months, the Alliance for Water Efficiency has been tracking Federal legislation that deals with water efficiency. For more information on the aforementioned bills, as well as continued updates on new legislation, check out the A4WE Legislative Watch page.

This is great news for river and watershed groups seeking to protect our freshwater resources by minimizing human water demands. Establishing WaterSense as a permanent program illustrates a long term commitment to using water more efficiently. While water legislation occasionally receives bipartisan support, try sending a letter, making a phone call or staging a demonstration to make sure your representative in Congress understands how important sustainable water supplies are.