The Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA), new legislation that provides critical investment in water infrastructure and includes support for water reuse, was introduced in the Senate on April 26 and passed by the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee on April 28. The legislation cites a Water Environment Federation (WEF) and WateReuse Assn.-sponsored economic study that demonstrates the value of robust funding for State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs.
U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK), chairman of the EPW Committee, and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), ranking member of the Senate EPW Committee, introduced the legislation, which is the main vehicle for authorizing water projects to be studied, planned and developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is also the legislative vehicle for implementing policy changes with respect to the Corps’ water resource projects and programs.
Some of the provisions of the bill that support increased water reuse include:
- A WaterSense program to identify and promote water efficient products, buildings, etc., including reuse and recycling technologies;
- An Innovative Water Technology Grant Program to accelerate innovative technologies, including reuse and recycling, to address water challenges;
- A task force to draft national drought resilience guidelines, including provisions for reuse; and
- Additional assistance for use of innovative technology in Clean and Drinking Water SRFs.
Although WRDA is intended to be biennial legislation, there have been gaps between measures.
“We are happy to see such an important bill making progress,” said WateReuse Assn. Executive Director Melissa Meeker. “While the bill isn't perfect, we appreciate the committee’s continued support for reuse and water infrastructure during such a crucial period. We look forward to working with Congress and the administration on the next steps”
The legislation still needs to be voted on by the full Senate and the House of Representatives must pass its own version.