Senate Committees Move Three Bills Forward

Within the past month, three bills — the Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act (S 611; SRpt. 114-47); the Water Resources Research Amendments Act (S 653; SRpt. 114-48); and the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (S 754; SRpt. 114-32) — have all completed their respective Committee processes.  The first two are now awaiting Senate Floor Action and the third has had its Senate Report completed.  The following is a thumbnail sketch of each:
The Grassroots Rural and Small Community Assistance Act reauthorizes §1442(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act to provide $15 million in annual appropriations to third party assistance providers to help meet small drinking water system needs.  As new language to be added to the section, the measure requires that EPA consider the preferences of small community water systems for training and assistance providers when making funding determinations.  Existing language already required that EPA give preference to nonprofit organizations that are the most qualified and experienced in providing such training and technical assistance.
The Water Resources Research Act authorizes a new $50 million grant program for FYs 2015-19 for 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, groundwater storage and replenishment systems, irrigation and/or conservation transport systems; POTW wastewater systems; and decentralized wastewater treatment systems for domestic sewage.
The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act calls for greater Federal information sharing, including classified information, with appropriate private sector entities for further cybersecurity.  It also provides legal authorities for private companies to “…monitor their networks, or those of their customers upon authorization and written consent, for cybersecurity purposes; take defensive measures to stop cyber attacks; and share cyber threat information with each other and with the government.”