WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 23, 2009 -- The House of Representatives passed H.R. 1145, the National Water Research and Development Initiative Act, by a vote of 413 to 10. The bill is intended to coordinate national research and development efforts on water and provide a clear path forward to ensure adequate water supplies for generations to come.
"In tough economic times, it is imperative that we use every dollar we spend efficiently. This bill will ensure that we have a clear water strategy that uses federal research and development dollars efficiently and eliminates redundant programs," said bill author and Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). "Coordination of federal agency activities and a stronger partnership with state, local and tribal governments will ensure that federal programs are focused on areas of greatest concern, and that our efforts are complementary and effective."
Water supply problems have substantial economic impacts, resulting in potential job losses and increased costs to businesses and families. According to a 2000 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, each of the eight water shortages over the past 20 years from drought and heat waves resulted in $1 billion or more in monetary losses. The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) reported in Apr. 2008 that California is now losing income and jobs due to the state's water supply crisis.
"Forty states expect to experience significant water shortages by 2013. Severe water shortages create substantial economic impacts, and we need a new federal commitment to ensure that the United States can meet the water challenges of the future," said Gordon.
Over twenty federal agencies carry out research and development on some aspect of water supply, water quality or water management. An increase in the number of water shortages and emerging conflicts over water supplies suggest that the U.S. is still inadequately prepared to address the nation's water management issues.
The bill requires the president to establish or designate an interagency committee with representation from all federal agencies dealing with water to implement a National Water Research and Development Initiative to improve federal activities on water, including research, development, demonstration, data collection and dissemination, education, and technology transfer.
The interagency committee would be charged with developing a plan to accomplish the following research outcomes: the implementation of a national water census, the development of new water technologies and techniques, the development of tools to facilitate water resource conflicts, the development of information technology systems to enhance water quality and supply, the improvement of hydrologic prediction models, an enhanced understanding related to ecosystem services, and an analyses of the energy-water nexus.
In an effort to provide technical and administrative support, the bill creates a National Water Initiative Coordination Office. The Office would disseminate information to the public and serve as a point of contact for the Initiative.