Chairman Gordon calls for national water initiative to help ensure water supply

Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) introduced H.R. 6997, a bill to create a National Water Initiative. The Initiative will coordinate and support federal water research, education, and technology transfer activities to address changes in water use, supply, and demand in the U.S. It includes support to increase water supply through greater efficiency and conservation...

WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 23, 2008 -- Today, Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) introduced H.R. 6997 a bill to create a National Water Initiative. The Initiative will coordinate and support federal water research, education, and technology transfer activities to address changes in water use, supply, and demand in the U.S. It includes support to increase water supply through greater efficiency and conservation. This legislation will help to engage stakeholders at all levels of government, academia, and industry to create a national strategy to ensure adequate water for the 21st century and beyond.

"Sound water management is essential if we are to meet the water needs of municipalities, industry, agriculture, recreation, and power," said Gordon. "A new commitment is necessary to ensure that the United States can meet the water challenges over the next twenty years and onward."

In the United States, over 50,000 water utilities withdraw approximately 40 billion gallons of water per day from the nation's resources, to supply water for domestic consumption, industry, and other uses. When severe water shortages occur, the economic effect can be substantial. According to a 2000 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, eight water shortages from drought or heat waves each resulted in $1 billion or more in monetary losses over the past 20 years. Thirty-nine states are expected to experience droughts in the next five years.

"If we are to avoid water crises in the future, we need an effective research and development effort that provides tools and information to manage our water resources effectively," said Gordon. "The National Academies have reported that the United States is not getting its money's worth on water resources research because of a lack of coordination. During tough budgetary times, we need to ensure that taxpayer money is getting the best return on investment."

The Committee recently held a hearing to get stakeholders' opinions on draft version of this legislation. H.R. 6997 builds on recommendations from a 2004 report by the National Academies entitled, Confronting the Nation's Water Problems: The Role of Federal Research.

The House of Representatives also recently passed two pieces of water legislation that originated in the Committee on Science and Technology: H.R. 3957, The Water Use Efficiency and Conservation Research Act, and H.R. 2339, The Produced Water Utilization Act.

For more information, including the Section-By-Section of this legislation, please visit the Committee's website.

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