Oct 13, 2009

Bill Introduced to Support Water Research

HR 3727 would devote resources to protecting water supplies from climate change impacts

A bill that would provide water utilities critical information on preparing for climate change impacts on the nation’s drinking water supply is making its way through the Senate and House. HR 3727, the “Drinking Water Adaptation, Technology, Education, and Research (WATER) Act,” was recently introduced by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo).

The Senate version of the bill, S 1035, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in May, has recently been incorporated into a climate change package sponsored by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.).

The Water Research Foundation, a nonprofit foundation devoted to drinking water research, would be one of the primary entities to conduct critical climate change research being funding through the Drinking WATER Act bill.

“Water availability is the canary in the coal mine with regards to climate change. The consensus among climate scientists is that one of the first and most critical impacts of climate change are shifts in precipitation patterns that affect water availability,” said Robert C. Renner, executive director of the Water Research Foundation.

“We commend Representative DeGette and Senator Reid for recognizing that climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing our nation’s drinking water supplies,” Renner said. “Water utilities are charged with providing safe, affordable and abundant drinking water to Americans. They need information to plan and prepare for the inevitable impacts of climate change.”

“The availability of water is predicted to be one of the most serious effects of climate change in the United States. It’s imperative for our country to devote resources to study this issue and better understand how to protect our drinking water supplies from the impacts of climate change,” said Rep. DeGette.

The bill would authorize $25 million annually for 10 years for applied research, in cooperation with the nation’s water utilities, into strategies addressing the impacts of climate change. The research to be funded and directed through EPA, in cooperation with the Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Interior, would focus on changing water quality and quantity, infrastructure needs, the impact of carbon sequestration on groundwater supplies, desalination, reuse, alternative supply technologies, energy efficiency, regional and hydrologic basin cooperative water management solutions and water conservation.

Water utilities are extremely concerned that extended changes in precipitation will lead to extended periods of drought in some regions while others experience fewer but more intense storms. Many regions in the country are witnessing the effects of extreme weather patterns around the country with severe drought in the South and West to flooding in the central states.

The bill has been endorsed by the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) and many of the nation’s largest water utilities.