House Acts to Help Prevent Looming Water-Use Crisis
(Washington, DC) – Today, the House of Representatives passed two bills to foster technological innovation, efficiency and conservation in an effort to head off an impending shortage of water.
“Dwindling water supplies looms as a major disaster on our nation’s horizon,” said Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “In an effort to protect the country from an impending water scarcity crisis, the Committee has begun to search out ways for the federal government to spur new technological innovations in water research and development.”
Water utilities across the country withdraw roughly 40 billion gallons of water per day for domestic consumption, industrial processing, energy production, and fire protection. Americans now use an average of 100 gallons of water per person every day. Demand is increasing, with population and energy use, and water shortages are a growing issue. Thirty-six states are anticipating water shortages within the next five years.
H.R. 3957, The Water Use Efficiency and Conservation Research Act, was introduced by Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT). H.R. 3957 establishes a research and development program within the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development to promote water-use efficiency and conservation.
Through this program, the EPA will develop and encourage the adoption of technologies and processes to achieve greater water-use efficiency, thus helping to address the water supply shortages. In addition, H.R. 3957 directs EPA to disseminate information on current water-use efficient and conservation technologies. This information will include incentives and impediments to development and commercialization.
“Many experts are starting to see water as ‘the new oil’ in terms of what a precious commodity it is. The key to avoiding future scarcity is more efficient use, reuse and distribution. We need the best minds tackling this challenge and then we need to ensure the information is readily available to the public,” said Matheson.
H.R. 2339, The Produced Water Utilization Act was introduced by Committee Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX). This bill creates a research, development, and demonstration program to promote the beneficial reuse of water produced in connection with oil and gas extraction. In the United States, up to 2.3 billion gallons per day of produced water is generated. Unfortunately, this water is not of sufficient quality to be used. This legislation will provide innovative treatment technologies that will enable the reuse of this water in an environmentally responsible way.
“Water is essential to everything we do and there is no substitute for it,” said Gordon.
The Committee also recently held a hearing to explore the Chairman’s draft legislation that would create a National Water Initiative aimed at coordinating and improving federal research related to water.
For more information, please visit the Committee’s website.