Rep. Capps Introduces New Climate Change Grants Bill for Water & Wastewater Systems

On August 1st, Representative Lois Capps (D-CA) introduced HR 2738, the Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Act of 2011.  The measure would authorize EPA to establish a new grants program for owners or operators of water systems to help with resiliency/adaptability to “ongoing or forecasted changes” to the hydrologic conditions of a region of the United States.  Under the bill, a “water system” is defined comprehensively to include the following:

a)   a community water system (as defined in section 1401 of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 USC 300f));
b)   a treatment works (as defined in section 212 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 USC 1292), including a municipal separate storm sewer system (as such term is used in the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 USC 1251 et seq.);
c)    a decentralized wastewater treatment system for domestic sewage;
d)   a groundwater storage and replenishment system;
e)   a system for transport and delivery of water for irrigation or conservation; or
f)    a natural or engineered system that manages floodwaters

Funds would be used exclusively for planning, design, construction, implementation, operation, or maintenance of a program or project for:  water conservation/efficiency; infrastructure modification or modification; water quality preservation or improvement – including measures to manage, reduce, treat, or reuse municipal stormwater, wastewater, or drinking water; design/construction of groundwater remediation, recycled water, or desalination facilities; enhanced water management through watershed preservation/protection; green infrastructure; enhanced energy efficiency or renewable energy; adoption/use of advanced water treatment, water supply management, or water demand management technologies, projects or processes; modification/replacement of existing or construction of new systems for existing communities currently in agricultural production to improve water supply, reliability, storage, or conveyance to promote conservation and preclude exacerbation of ecosystem stresses; improved irrigation systems, water banking, and other forms of water transactions, groundwater recharge, stormwater capture, groundwater conjunctive use, and reuse/recycled drainage water; reduced flood damage risk; studies or assessments that project how changing hydrologic conditions may impact future operations/sustainability of water systems; or developing/implementing measures to increase the resilience of water systems and regional and hydrological basins, including the Colorado River Basin, to rapid hydrologic change or a natural disaster (such as tsunami, earthquake, flood, or volcanic eruption).

Each awarded grant would have a 50% nonfederal cost share and no more than 20% of the total appropriation could be used for flood damage risk.  The bill would authorize $50 million for each fiscal year 2012-16 and has been referred to the House Energy & Commerce, Transportation & Infrastructure, and Natural Resources Committees.