Water-Use Efficiency Technologies Focus of Subcommittee Work
(Washington, DC) Today, the U.S. House Committee on Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment held a legislative hearing on H.R. 3957, The Water-Use Efficiency and Conservation Research Act of 2007. The hearing evaluated the need for research and development of technologies and processes to enhance water-use efficiency and water conservation.
The dwindling supply of water in the U.S. has made headlines across the country in recent weeks and has served to echo increasing concerns at all levels of government.
“By encouraging research and development of technologies to improve water-use efficiency, we are in fact increasing our nation’s water supplies without having to identify a single new source of fresh water,” said Subcommittee Chairman Nick Lampson (D-TX).
Since 1950, the U.S. population increased nearly 90%. In that same period, public demand for water increased 209%. Americans use an average of 100 gallons of water per person each day. This increased demand has put additional stress on water supplies and distribution systems, threatening both human health and the environment.
Thirty-six states are now anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013.
In the long run, conserving water can provide significant cost savings for water and wastewater systems. H.R. 3957, authored by Committee Member Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) would establish a research and development program and a technology transfer program within the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development (ORD) to promote water-use efficiency and conservation.
"Utah is the nation's second-driest state. In the face of rapid growth, drought and climate change predictions, if we want to keep the taps flowing tomorrow, we need to take advantage of every available water efficiency technology today," said Rep. Matheson.
H.R. 3957 expands the scope of EPA’s water research programs and directs EPA to address the nation’s water supply crisis. Issues of water supply and water quality are closely linked and EPA should have the tools to address water issues in a comprehensive fashion. By expanding EPA’s R&D program the Agency will be able to offer innovations in water storage and distribution systems, as well as a better understanding of the behavioral, social, and economic barriers to achieving greater water-use efficiency. In addition, the program will research technologies and processes that enable the collection, treatment and reuse of rainwater and grey water -- waste water from sinks, baths and kitchen appliances.
Dr. Glen Daigger, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at CH2M Hill testified, “The United States led the world in developing and implementing revolutionary water management systems throughout the 2nd half of the 20th century. The question before us is whether the U.S. is going to give up its leadership in this critical area. This is path that we are on, but it can be reversed with a fairly modest set of actions by the federal government.”
There is great potential for expanding water supplies through conservation. EPA estimates that if all U.S. households installed water-efficient appliances, the country would save more than 3 trillion gallons of water and more than $17 billion dollars per year. In addition, the average American household could save 20,000 gallons of water per year if it installed an inexpensive low-flow showerhead. A low-flush toilet could reduce their water use by an additional 34 percent.
The bill also directs EPA to create a clearinghouse of technologies, practices and products within their purview that could help stakeholders at the local, regional and state government level better manage their limited resources and achieve greater adoption of technologies and policies on water conservation.