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House and Senate Work on Water Issues

ASDWA has updated the Legislative Charts and Narrative information on our website.  To see the most recent listings of bills introduced, hearings and markups held, and a narrative summary of a particular bill’s content, please visit www.asdwa.org and click on the ‘Legislative’ at the top of the home page.  Both the House and Senate have taken action in the past two weeks on water infrastructure issues, as summarized below.
In the House, Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and five of his Democratic colleagues have introduced House Resolution 142 which has been referred to the Committees on Natural Resources; Energy & Commerce; Agriculture; and Transportation & Infrastructure.  The nonbinding Resolution expresses the sense of the House that “…in order to better understand water availability, sustainability, and security at a national scale, the United States should prioritize the assessment of the quality and quantity of surface water and groundwater resources, and produce a national water census with the same sense of urgency that was incorporated in the ‘Man on the Moon’ project to address the inevitable challenges of ‘Peak Water’.”  The Resolution continues to expand on the issues and concludes with a call for a rapid transition to a sustainable, secure water economy that prioritizes ecological flows; the fostering of a national and regional understanding of water use, availability, and sustainability through coordinated efforts; and the prioritization and assessment of the quality and quantity of surface and groundwater resources.
In the Senate, on March 16th, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced S 741, the Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Act to provide grants to owners and operators of water systems to “increase the resiliency or adaptability of the systems to any ongoing or forecasted changes to the hydrologic conditions of a region of the United States.”  The measure broadens the definition of “water system” to include:  community drinking water systems; POTW wastewater systems, including separate storm sewer systems; decentralized wastewater treatment systems for domestic sewage; groundwater storage and replenishment systems; water irrigation and/or conservation transport systems; and a natural or engineered system that manages floodwater.  The bill authorizes funding for the grant awards at $50 million for each fiscal year 2015 through 2019.  However, not more than 20 percent may be made available for flood risk and vulnerability or flood damage reduction.  This legislation mirrors that introduced earlier in March by Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA).